How does Coronavirus compare to other outbreaks throughout the years?
I’ve spent more than twenty years working in the travel industry, and I’ve witnessed many health concerns around the world – including SARS, MERs, Ebola, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, Zika Virus, and, most recently, the Norovirus. Each of these rightfully gave some travelers pause, in part because of how heavily they were covered in the media. During each, of course, millions and millions of people continued to travel safely – just as they’re traveling safely today.

The bottom line is that it pays to stay informed. If you’re traveling soon, make sure to continue to monitor the Coronavirus situation. As a travel expert, when it comes to adjusting travel plans based on health concerns, I listen to health experts.

How is this affecting current bookings, and will this affect future travel bookings?
Travel companies don’t want to and simply cannot afford to put their travelers at risk. They will do everything they can to alter itineraries and make appropriate adjustments in the interest of safety – they wouldn’t be able to do business, otherwise. Cruise lines, for example, have adopted very serious routines for disinfecting and sanitizing public areas to eliminate the spread of germs. It’s critical to stay educated, of course, and that’s where a good Travel Agent can make all the difference.

What should I do if I’m thinking of booking a trip but I’m hesitant?
As always, the decision to travel is yours and yours alone. Still, it’s helpful to speak to a professional who is keeping a close eye on the news and can lend some advice on the best option for you. Many Travel Agents have gone through this before with past health concerns, so they know where to get the latest, reliable information – like what’s going on minute-by-minute on the cruise lines. They can also help you navigate trip insurance.

It’s important to know that the Coronavirus is considered a documented event and will not be considered a covered reason to cancel a trip under some insurance policies. That’s why cancel-for-any-reason insurance is a good alternative for added peace of mind.

What is your biggest concern about the Coronavirus?
The travel business is the people business: We help people have marvelous experiences. On any day of the week in any month of any year, our biggest concern is always the safety, wellbeing, and best interests of our members and customers. At a time like this, it isn’t our job to convince people to travel – because the decision to travel is always a personal choice. But it is our responsibility to provide clear, reliable information, educate the best we can, assist with plans made or those in progress, and help folks make informed choices.

As always, we’re here to help.

Sandra Marsian, Vice President
Membership, Travel, and Marketing
AAA Pioneer Valley