Before Resuming International Travel, Make Sure the Economy Has Improved
12 Nov 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has dragged on for months, thrown our world into turmoil, and cast a cloud of uncertainty over our lives. But recent news has given everybody reason for optimism. Pfizer and BioNTech have announced that a vaccine they’ve been developing can prevent infection in over 90% of people, with 50 million doses expected to be available by year’s end.
The news has improved the overall outlook for everyone’s health and safety regarding Covid-19. But it has also been a welcome boost to people who’ve been yearning to escape their homes and resume a life of travel.
Understandably, the first thing many of us would want to do is book a flight somewhere far away and enjoy a well-deserved vacation. But before you resume international travel, think again. It may not be enough for the threat of the coronavirus to be lifted wherever you’re headed. You may want to check the state of the local economy first.
Local businesses are closed
Even during the pandemic, some intrepid souls have continued to avail of opportunities to head overseas. The rise of remote work has given us far greater flexibility, not only in terms of how but even where we choose to work.
Why work from home when you can pack your bags and relocate for a few months? Living the dream of a digital nomad was not only within reach. It even made sense given recent circumstances.
While coronavirus cases surged in the US, other countries seemed to have relative success containing its spread. People confined to their homes were feeling isolated and stressed. Each new day would blend into one monotonous existence.
Unfortunately, many newfound digital nomads encountered problems. Some of them were related to the coronavirus, but not all. Simply put, travelers found fewer amenities wherever they went. And that’s not entirely a result of Covid-19.
In many countries, the pandemic triggered a recession that may take years to recover from. It forced the permanent closure of many businesses. And it continues to imply that starting new ones will be difficult.
We travel to experience variety. Heading off to a beach resort with only a handful of food and drink options or other diversions isn’t variety. You’ll just be replacing your native scenery with something exotic, and the novelty will fade soon.
A reduction in services
Establishments providing food, entertainment, and shopping options aren’t the only ones affected during an economic downturn. In general, local services will struggle, and that poses a problem if you ever face an emergency.
If you’re in the US and your car breaks down, any mechanic will do. Even heavy-duty parts for a CAT engine can be replaced reliably with aftermarket pieces. There is a high level of trust in both labor and vendor.
Now suppose you’re in a foreign country, and you drop your camera. If you’re in Japan, you’re in luck. Elsewhere? You might face subpar quality or even worse damage because the store doesn’t have the best skills or components for replacement.
The same thing goes for your phone or laptop. And if you’re thinking about buying a new gadget from local manufacturers? Best of luck, especially if you’re in a non-English speaking country and don’t know the local language.
It’s no secret that people get a little desperate during difficult times. A struggling economy widens the gap between the wealthy and the poor. And poverty, in turn, feeds into a higher crime rate.
Not to cause undue alarm, but it’s a sensible practice to stay away from countries where a bad economy leads to higher crime rates. Crime doesn’t discriminate. A US visa doesn’t protect you from pickpockets.
Would-be criminals also have different methods of attack. They may resort to credit card skimming or identity theft. Compromised devices or Wi-Fi networks can amplify the risk.
None of these downsides or risks should deter you from traveling. There are many countries where economic recovery might occur more rapidly, maybe even outpacing the release of a working vaccine. They will remain attractive destinations for international travel. You can also choose to limit your adventures to domestic destinations.
Refraining from international travel is not about refusing to support another country’s economy or travel industry. That’s not the responsibility of any individual or travelers as a collective. It’s up to local governments to ensure safety, improve the economy, and make their countries an attractive destination once again. Until that happens, play it safe, or keep those dollars at home.