For some, the answer to the question of whether its ethical to travel during a global pandemic is a clear “no”. It’s a no brainer. Travel, after all, is a leisure activity. Unless you must travel for medical reasons, have a family emergency, or it’s a requirement for your job, making the choice to travel in the middle of a global pandemic seems a counterproductive and selfish. For others, it may not be so black and white. There may be other considerations when deciding to venture out into the world.
This debate has been ongoing across social media. Both sides have presented valid points. We are sharing some of the main themes we’ve seen on both sides of the debate.
The Case Against Traveling During A Global Pandemic
Those who believe it’s unethical or downright not smart to travel during a pandemic point to a number of health and safety risks that present themselves when venturing out into the world but they also point to an altruistic view of how we are all connected and responsible for one another. We’ve seen three main points against traveling during a global pandemic:
1. We have a social responsibility to help flatten the curve
Despite precautions that can be taken, the best way for us to flatten the curve is to limit our exposure to others. Countries that have seen the best results in addressing the pandemic have taken this approach seriously and they started doing so early. The countries that are seeing their COVID related illnesses and deaths consistently increasing are the ones who are not taking this approach seriously **cough the US**
The viewpoint here is if we would all collectively just stay home and only go out when absolutely necessary, we can all get out of this faster and get back to normal living and the fact that people refuse to do so is extending our time in quarantine and negatively affecting everyone.
There are those of us who have been separated from our children for months, have not seen our parents all year, and many have lost loved ones and were unable to visit them before the end or even attend their funerals. To the people who have experienced losses due to COVID, it’s understandable that they would take what seems to be an extreme view of the ethics of travel during a time like this.
2. It’s Not Worth it to Put Yourself At Risk
If you aren’t that altruistic and the idea of social responsibility for the broader public does not resonate with you, then those who are opposed to the idea of traveling during a pandemic want you to at least consider that you’re putting yourself at risk. Truthfully, each time you come into contact with another person or even something another person has touched, you are putting yourself at risk. The question becomes, is that trip worth the risk?
3. You’re Putting the Citizens of Other Countries/States At Risk
Something else to consider is the current state and infrastructure of the place you’re planning to visit. Does that location already have a high number of cases? Does that location have the healthcare infrastructure to handle an outbreak? If it doesn’t, then visiting that country is actually putting its citizens at risk. You may be thinking “its not that big a deal, I’m only one person” but it only takes one person who’s been exposed to a virus to infect multiple people and those people infect multiple people. That is literally how an outbreak happens. If the country doesn’t have a stable healthcare system to support a large portion of its population becoming ill, their illness and mortality rates can and will rise significantly.
The Case For Traveling During A Global Pandemic
For some, it isn’t so black and white and there are logical reasons to continue traveling even during a global pandemic. We’ve essentially been in quarantine for six months as of this writing (well most of us, we’re looking at you Florida and Georgia) and people are restless, listless, and truly missing the freedom to move about the world and feel “normal”. The three arguments we’ve seen most often that support traveling during the pandemic are:
1. Mental health is as important as physical health
There is no disputing that being quarantined for extended periods of time can significantly impact mental health – solitude, drastic changes in routine, feeling trapped – are all contributors to depression. Layer on that many of us are working from home for the first time with companies who have not mastered a WFH culture and then layer on top of that bored children we now have to creatively entertain AND co-school from home and you’ve got a recipe for a depressive state.
Travel can be an escape, a reprieve from our daily struggles and challenges. It can be the refresh and reset that we need to feel alive and happy.
2. Help to boost global economies
Many view those who choose to travel during a global pandemic as selfish. But many of the people who choose to do so see themselves as altruistic as well because they are contributing to commerce. It’s no secret that many companies are failing during this time. Fears that this global pandemic will lead to a global economic crisis are not outrageous or unwarranted. Some countries are even creating incentives to get visitors to come to their country and spend tourism dollars. There are many cities, states and countries that rely heavily on tourism dollars and during a global pandemic, those countries find themselves in financial despair. Some travelers feel it’s their duty to travel responsibly and help boost the economy.
2. We must learn to live with a new norm
“We’ve literally stopped living our lives for a virus with a 96% survivability rate” was a comment on a thread in the Wandering Moms Facebook group. Many travelers have accepted that life has changed for all of us and believe we may as well get back to living. The hard truth, normal does not exist anymore, at least not what was normal before the global pandemic.
Those of us who are avid travelers have always lived by mantras that tell us to “live our lives to the fullest” and remind us that “this is our one and only life”. Well, if those mantras are part of your core values, it makes sense that you would be a person who is already adopting the new norm and pushing your life forward.
Regardless of where you sit on this debate, we are all in this together and trying to make our best in this unprecedented situation. We hope each of you is doing what is best for you and your family. If you choose to travel during the global pandemic we hope you plan to do so responsibly.
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