Has the virus changed your travel plans?

March 8, 2020, 3:27 PM · Okay, so now let's talk about your spring and summer travel plans.

In January, when the whole coronavirus thing was just beginning to hit the news, I asked What keeps you from traveling? The overwhelming response then was "money," with 66 percent of respondents citing financial reasons for why they did not travel as much as they might want.

Only three percent of respondents cited health concerns. But now, with events and entire theme parks being shut down all over the world, are health concerns driving you to change your travel plans?

Tokyo Disney, Universal Studios Japan, and other theme parks in Japan remain closed through March 15. In China, Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland remain closed indefinitely. Cruise lines are canceling sailings, and passengers on at least two ships have faced quarantines. Airlines have announced that they will waive all change fees on tickets purchased this month, as they look to encourage passengers to keep booking flights.

Conventions are canceling, dropping occupancy rates at hotels. Speaking with people in the travel industry, I keep hearing the same story - advance bookings have all but stopped, as people wait to see what will happen next.

Theme parks and other travel destinations are stuck in the same planning purgatory, too. I've been waiting for word about nearly a dozen opening dates and press events that I had been expecting to have been announced by now. But parks don't want to commit to launching their new attractions if no one is going to want to - or even be able to - come experience them.

At this point, I haven't seen widespread discounting on airfare, cruises, or theme park tickets. Travel businesses seem to be, again, waiting for some direction. Will this crisis pass, and people resume booking? Or will this virus keep spreading, forcing businesses either to close for a while... or to discount in order to entice virus-fearing visitors to come?

There's a lot of fear out there right now. Some of that fear is of the virus, but there's also quite a bit of fear about its economic impact. Without widespread testing, we simply do not know the true extend of the Covid-19 crisis. It seems like everyone remains on the back foot, reacting to rumor and fear, rather than taking sound action based on real data... because that data, at this point, simply doesn't exist.

That's not an environment that encourages people to commit thousands of dollars toward travel plans. Or toward anything other than panic-buying toilet paper and hand sanitizer, it seems.

So, what are you thinking right now? Has the Covid-19 virus caused you to change your travel plans?

I'd love to hear your stories, in the comments.

Replies (15)

March 8, 2020 at 4:09 PM

My family and I leave on a cruise tomorrow. No worry whatsoever. I understand the elderly and those with weakened immune systems being cautious. However, stories of hoarding toilet paper and other basic goods suggests reason has been thrown out the window. I am worried that we may be creating a recession that could have been avoided. In the long run that may negatively impact a lot more people than this virus.

March 8, 2020 at 4:53 PM

The only way my girlfriend and I aren't going to WDW 4/23 is if it is closed. Visiting WDW is nothing compared to what I will be facing a few weeks after our trip. I work for an Indycar team and will be exposed to hundreds of thousands of people for the two weeks of the Indy 500. Its my livelihood and I would never refuse to do my job in fear of a virus. In the grand scheme of my life, being around tens of thousands of people to recharge my magic is a small risk.

March 8, 2020 at 6:11 PM

Have a cruise to Bermuda booked for September of this year. After reading all the recent COVID-19 concerns about cruise vacations, I went back on the company's website to see how bookings were doing, and saw that the prices had really dropped. So, I called up our agent and upgraded our room at cost, which now came with $150 on-board spend money, free internet package, a free specialty dinner and a $50 credit for shore excursions.

I hate to be a opportunistic vulture, but when people start panicking, bargains are to be found. I got an incredible weekend package in Toronto after that city was hit by SARS in 2003. Went to both Disney and New York City in 2002, with dirt-cheap flights and packages, and the places were empty.

I guess that might make me come off as rapacious, but I just don't get caught up in cultural panics. Way I see it, if it's time for the big ol'finger of death to point at you, you might was well be riding on a boat, eating a churro and watching animatronic pirates.

March 8, 2020 at 6:54 PM

My mom is a nurse of 30 years yet still prepping a WDW trip with her grandkids in May. She is naturally concerned but thinks we're not at the "start hoarding and cancel public events" stage just yet. Guess if she's not that worried I shouldn't be.

March 8, 2020 at 8:41 PM

It has had zero effect on me. I'm right where I expected to be for 2020 travel plans, and am actually going to be firming up details for spring & summer travel in the next two weeks. If we reach the point where major tourist attractions are closing, then I might start rethinking travel. Until then, I'm treating this whole thing like a worse than usual flu season and going about all the stuff I'd normally do with a couple extra hand washes thrown in for good measure.

March 9, 2020 at 8:39 AM

My brother is going on a Disney Cruise in a few weeks. Nothing has changed, but Disney is testing people as they get on the ship. They were already super cautious when it comes to sickness on their boats, but this virus has really ramped it up!

Unless something huge happens, there are plenty of more common issues that could ruin a vacation in FL than this virus! :) No change of plans, but we aren't going until the end of July!

March 9, 2020 at 8:51 AM

We booked a trip to Tokyo Disney last fall and cancelled our trip 2 weeks ago. Totally upset about not going. We have airfare credit that we must use by Jan 2021 so our plans are to go next spring. This summer my mother, who is through chemo, was planning a trip to Barcelona but cancelled because her immune system is pretty much non existent.

March 9, 2020 at 9:04 AM

Something interesting Anthony is saying:
"....but Disney is testing people as they get on the ship"
I wonder how they do that !? One need to know that the only available lab test which can tell you've got the Corona virus yes/not, takes 2 days (!!!) to conclude in the lab. Everything else seems to be fake. Is Disney doing "placebo" tests ?.. faking to their customers they are OK, just to serve to avoid panic?

March 9, 2020 at 12:21 PM

Everything we were planning for this spring and summer was going to be within driving distance, so we don't yet have any skin in the game that would cause us to worry or panic about the current situation. Obviously, if the status changes, or parks we are planning to visit suddenly change their stance on the outbreak, we would be forced to make changes.

I would say that we're in a holding pattern, but don't plan to change anything between now and the end of the summer unless we're forced to by governments or the theme parks themselves.

I also agree with Herwig that any pre-boarding testing being completed by cruise operators is just a panacea. The only way such testing would protect people would be to allow an entire cruise ship to be quarantined because of a single positive test completed beforehand. That benefit would be to the greater society, but not much of a benefit to those who boarded the ship and stuck offshore for 2+ weeks.

March 9, 2020 at 12:31 PM

I suspect the pre-boarding 'testing' is something as simple as a temperature check and a questionnaire about whether you've had any symptoms such as a dry cough... Anyone registering a fever is likely to find themselves denied boarding. I've heard of it happening at certain airports before you can board a flight. It's not a 'test' for the virus as such but it is more effective than simply letting anyone walk on board.

March 9, 2020 at 12:34 PM

As of today our plans for our April 15 trip have not changed. However we are considering driving instead of flying. That would cost us 1 day at WDW but it is probably worth it for my wife's peace of mind. If the situation gets worse we may have to cancel the Disney portion of out trip.

March 9, 2020 at 3:19 PM

I didn't cancel my trip, but my trip as planned was canceled due to attractions closing. I am looking at alternatives because I will still take a trip somewhere this summer, but it may have to be planned last-minute to avoid possible future closures.

March 9, 2020 at 3:29 PM

I am so torn and confused. We have plans to visit Orlando on May 1st. But I think I might cancel. I am very concerned about this virus. Thinking about going in September instead and hoping it has cleared up by then...

I was going to go step by step of traveling and hitting the airports, Hotel resorts, Theme parks but you all know all of that already…

I am mostly thinking about the 20,000 you will be exposed to when visiting a park. That is a large number and I am sure at least one of them will have had exposure to this vicious virus. Many people from many countries.

The resort has a no cancellation policy, but I bet if I call and fight a bit, I can get something back. Actually they have not changed by card yet so now I am wondering if I can simply bock this before they charge it.

This is highly contagious and is spreading fast.
Don't worry if you blast me about, I can take it..


March 9, 2020 at 3:36 PM

The virus scare doesn`t seem to be affecting crowds at Disney`s stateside parks at all

March 10, 2020 at 6:43 AM

I was at DHS & Epcot on Saturday, and I can confirm that the virus is having no effect on the Disney crowds. Both parks were packed. It's all a matter of common sense and an extra 'layer' of cautiousness.

My vacation plans are not until September, so right now I'm still in the lightly pencil-in stage. It will mean flying this time, but I'll pay a few extra $$$ and go business to miss out on cattle-class if the need arises.

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