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Why I’m Not Traveling

In the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, part of the solution is avoiding trips.

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I’ve always been a proponent for traveling more, seeking discomfort, and unearthing the wonders of both the self and the world.

A related mission of mine, however, is that I want people to travel smarter, both so that they can get more out of their experience and so that the act of traveling can serve as a net positive for the places they go. When disaster strikes around the world, those two missions—to travel more and to travel smarter—can feel at odds with one another.

And right now, they are.

Condé Nast Traveler, I wag my finger at you for publishing this article titled “Why We’re Still Traveling.”

Your financial losses are showing.

Indeed, the coronavirus has introduced a new level of complexity to our lives right now. And as travelers, we love uncertainty, but we should never throw caution to the wind. Not when it comes to our health.

You should avoid travel if you can, and if you absolutely must travel, then you should be smart about how you do it.

That means what it always means: traveling consciously, with awareness and respect for the place you’re visiting. In the case of this epidemic, it means taking State Department advisories and the advice of industry professionals seriously, and of course, exercising the common sense precautions every major news outlet has been offering.

We are all in this together, which is exactly why you shouldn’t be traveling right now.

Even if you are in the young and healthy demographic who aren’t likely to fall ill or worse, you can still carry—and transmit—COVID-19 to others.

By choosing to travel in the midst of a pandemic, you not only put yourself at risk, but worse, you put those around you at risk.

If you travel from a congested city, where you are more likely to come into contact with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, you risk carrying it with you.

There is no time better than a global crisis for people to come together and show the good nature of humanity through thoughtful acts of compassion and empathy.

Travel for travel’s sake is a selfish privilege and one for which I’m, admittedly, a glutton. But we should never risk our own safety and especially not the safety of others. We should be helping those around us, carrying our weak and holding up our ill.

Instead, some are choosing to take advantage of flight deals, jaunting off to new countries, where they risk spreading the virus further.

It’s not about whether or not you’re at risk. It’s about whether you’re putting others at risk.

And if you travel, you likely are.

You should not be traveling. Not right now.

Right now, I dare say, the world is off-limits. This is not a time for sightseeing and mojitos. This is a time for us to come together.

That means we may need to stay in our corners of the world for a short while, but it certainly won’t be forever. Stay still for now, for there is plenty of time.

UPDATE: As of 1:30pm EST on March 11, Condé Nast beauty network will be working from home until March 31st or later. They are no longer accepting deliveries to their offices at 1 WTC for containment reasons.

Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today.

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14 Responses

  1. Hi Jeremy. I am a frequent traveler from the Philippines and am currently, like almost everyone else, staying at home responsibly.

    Like travel agents here who took the chance to dust up their offices and filing cabinets while the office queue is empty, I am now back to painting, reading books, editing old travel photos, and drafting a series of unpublished travel stories (oh, and I went into this millennial crazy Tiktok stuff for fun, arrgh).

    Which brought me to your blog. I traveled through Egypt, Israel and Jordan in 2017 and like you, was amazed at the diverse culture and religions. I wanted to trace my Catholic roots and ended up learning about all the others, sub religions included. Even in conflicting statements of two possible areas where Christ was buried, both have devoted tourists flocking like crazy. I am happy when you traced your roots in Israel. I am crazy about hummus too, and their food is simply healthy heaven. Another fascinating thing is their Sabbath day where no one is at work. There is this one empty working service elevator in the hotel that takes you up and down each floor automatically.

    I won’t take much of your time. Just sending positive vibes from this side of the world and hoping the travel industry will recover after this crippling crisis. We need to keep spreading good vibes in our stories now.

    I do plan to write a series about my China trips too because it deserves a positive focus in these times of hurtful discrimination. It is a beautiful country which needs comfort as much as ours do.

    Sadly, we forget that to survive as a human race, we need to spread love and stop the hate.

    Sending virtual hugs your way and kudos to all fellow travelers who are staying home as well. Thank you for spreading love, not the virus.

    Jojie Alcantara

  2. I was just about to email you Jeremy and find out where you are, but thought I’d check here first. I’m holding off booking any flights for a while. Fortunately I live on the very outskirts of London and avoid the center like the plague, even without CV19. A large 45 hectare country park is nearby so I can exercise and not come in contact with anyone.

    Other than that I’m homing it and rewriting some code in my blog software.

    Totally agree about the stupid idiots who think they can do a lot of major travelling at a time like this.

  3. Absolutely right.

    I live in Berlin and cancelled many events and conferences that I was supposed to attend, including a conference in Italy and visits to Slovakia, Bosnia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Ireland and the UK!

    I believe that I’m one of the very few travel bloggers to actually suggest NOT travelling at the moment, and you’d be surprised at the hate that other travel bloggers spout when you recommend that. Incredible!

    However, my website is my own, and I’m of the habit of saying exactly what I feel like saying regardless, so no worries.

    At the moment, I’m recommending a staycation if it’s allowed, and if not, just stay at home right now until the WHO or individual national governments say otherwise.

  4. Words of wisdom which I wish I could read and hear more around me Jeremy.

    As a fellow traveler I have cancelled my plans because I absolutely do not want to contribute to the spread of a disease even if it doesn’t directly put my life in danger.

    This is a test of truth for many people to learn to be in full control of themselves, their habits and their desires and think of what matters the most.

    1. Thank you, G! I applaud your decision and love the last line of your comment. Indeed, this is about self-control and getting to choose what really matters to us. That’s a privilege far too few even have in the first place.

  5. I don’t think the CN article was as negative/irresponsible as you are portraying it to be. You pretty much quote their article which says:

    “In the case of this epidemic, it means taking State Department advisories and the advice of industry professionals seriously, and of course exercising the common sense precautions every major news outlet has been offering.”

    I’m an international school teacher who lives in Beijing, but I have been traveling for the past 6 weeks due to the CoVid-19 situation. My husband and I have been taking the WHO and State Department advisories seriously and exercising common sense precautions.. I definitely think that people who have trips planned ought to take things seriously and cancel if they were planning on going to any high-risk areas. However, that doesn’t mean that every single person needs to be shamed for not staying put.

    I totally respect your point of view and I enjoy reading lots of your articles. However, I’m having to side with CN more on this one..

    1. Hey Karen,

      Thanks for your input. I did, indeed, quote their article a couple of times. I wrote the piece as I felt they should have written it—they made many great points but argued the opposite of what I feel is the responsible thing.

      Also, thanks for opining in a respectful manner. We all have the right to our opinions, and I appreciate having you here.


    1. Hey Penny! I don’t mind at all. Please just note that some of the words are not mine and are copied from CN. This was essentially a rewrite of their article as I felt they should have written it.

  6. This is an awesome article. I know people who are still traveling and so chilled about it. And they are going to countries that are affected by Corona. I find this so selfish and also shows the ugly and cruel side of human beings.

    1. I think we all like to believe that “it can’t/won’t happen to me.” It’s a nice thought, but it’s not realistic.

      As Giovanni, another commenter here said, “This is a test of truth for many people to learn to be in full control of themselves, their habits and their desires and think of what matters the most.” I think that sums it up perfectly.

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