To travel or not to travel has been swirling around my head the past few days.  I find myself in the same situation I’ve been counseling my clients on. 

I’ve been looking forward to a special invite to explore for two weeks South Africa, Botswana and Vic Falls staying primarily at &Beyond lodges, renowned for quality and conservation.  I’m to depart this Saturday 3/14 for a 24-hour journey from Denver to Cape Town, connecting in Atlanta and Johannesburg.

Last Sunday I had decided not to go (spoiler alert:  I later changed my mind).  This was my thinking at that time:

  • It’s irresponsible to undertake non-essential travel at this time.
  • I should be here to help my clients navigate their own “to travel or not to travel” dilemmas, not taking off to Africa.
  • I should demonstrate sensitivity, gravitas, not posting photos of safari in Botswana.
  • What if I catch coronavirus and get sick while on this trip? Or have to be in quarantine, or, even worse, transmit it to others?
  • In my early 60s, I’m not in the high-risk group but still more at risk than younger people.
  • Will I be so nervous in airports and on planes that the trip will be agonizing?
  • Africa will always be there…better to play it safe and go another time.

After further consideration, I’ve changed my thinking and decided TO GO because:

  • Once I’m in Africa, the risk of being exposed to the virus is probably less than here in Denver. Botswana has no reported cases so far; South Africa fewer than Colorado.  A colleague’s husband had lunch at a nearby Denver restaurant with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19 a week later.  She and hubby have no symptoms, but the virus is nearby.
  • I imagine the highest risk will be on the flight and in airports. Colleagues who have recently flown reiterate how much planes and airports are being disinfected.  And the plane air circulation and filter system is similar to ones used in ICUs. 
  • If I did come down with COVID-19, I’m in good health with no serious underlying conditions to believe I wouldn’t recover.
  • I will still be working from Africa and available for my clients.
  • As you might imagine this has evolved into a slow time for travel advisors…from a work standpoint it’s a good time to take an exploratory trip to another part of the world. Most of my upcoming client trips have been resolved, many as cancellations. 
  • This is a super personal decision. I’m not a bad person if I decide to go.
  • I’d like to support my suppliers, partners and others in the travel industry by taking this trip. Close travel colleagues have been encouraging me to go.  The other 4 US agents who were to accompany me haven’t pulled out yet…
  • Two weeks is not a long time. I’ll be home before I know it.
  • Africa will be amazing and I feel inclined to embrace this magical opportunity rather than retreat and be fearful (while fully recognizing the severity of the virus…).

So last week I had my first regular flu shot in years, have a good supply of alcohol wipes, and unless something changes in the next couple of days, will head to the airport with my safari duffle bag, excited about being out in the bush, close to nature.  For me the coronavirus underscores how important it is to respect and take care of nature, which keeps our world in balance and healthy while providing our basic needs. 

I’ll post on social media updates on what it’s like to travel internationally during this time and of course, some inspirational travelogues from Africa for those who have plans to go on safari or it’s on their bucket list.  Wishing you good health and see you end of March 😊