When will we be able to travel?
Posted on August 28, 2020

I think we’re all in suspended mode – or should be – about our travel plans. I wrote in this post that Experiences equal Happiness, and Patti and I would agree with that. For us new experiences = travel. Patti and I really look forward to international travel. We like the whole process: making a bucket list, deciding what’s at the top of the list, planning the details, and anticipating the trip once we’ve committed to it. This post describes how we and some others I’ve talked to are thinking about travel in the future. Patti and I have basically shifted what we had planned for 2020 to the last part of 2021, and that’s what most of our friends have done. But 2021 could be another lost year.


== Sands of time ==


Missing this year is more painful for us than it may be for you. Patti and I are in our mid 70s. While we’re in good health, I don’t think that Patti and I will be traveling nearly as much when we are in our 80s. Skipping 2020 could be 1/5th of the years we’ll have the health and energy to travel.


== Who will have us? ==


We obviously have our own concerns about travel, but some places we want to travel to won’t have us. They only want people entering from countries where the virus is suppressed. Our new case rate is too high, and that’s a real problem.


We always plan a trip to the UK. We love the walking there. The UK now requires entering travelers – even UK citizens – to quarantine for 14 days if they are arriving from a country with new case rates of greater than 20 new cases/1 million/day. That equates to less than 7,000 new cases for the US and we’re six to seven times that now. Something BIG has to change for our rate to get as low as the better countries of the world. (The source for this graph is here.)


US average rate of 126 new cases is +7X the rate of 17 in UK.


== Where is it safe to travel? ==


The flip side of who will have us is to decide on where it is safe to travel. We would not want to travel to a country with a high infection rate. And obviously we have a concern about healthcare in another country. If we get COVID-19 there, we know we could not come back to the US for care.


We would not consider travel to Spain or France now. Spain welcomed travelers in August and their new case rate exploded by a factor of 32 times; it’s no greater than the US.. Let up on it, and it can explode. France is about 3 times the UK line of 20.


Using this same filter of infection rates, it is not safe for us to travel to parts of the US. The US rate is two times that of France, for example. If we won’t travel to France, that means we’d only travel to places in the US where the rate of new cases is well below the US average. (The new case rate in our county is about 1/3 the US.) Some states – like Mississippi – are two times the US rate. Orange and Red on this map are OUT. (See here for source for this graph.)



== Treatments and Vaccine==


I’m optimistic about treatments that can reduce the effects of the virus: they can’t come soon enough. I’m optimistic about a vaccine, but there are a lot of uncertainties. Will it be tested enough to ensure it is safe? How effective will it be? When will enough be available to vaccinate 100s of millions of people? Where will Patti and I fall in the priority of who will be vaccinated? Will enough people decide to be vaccinated to provide ensure herd immunity, an added measure of safety?


Patti and I will not travel until we are vaccinated. Other friends – similar to us in age – are not as rigid as we on this point. They’ll decide closer to the time they will travel.


== The Shift ==


Patti and I have shifted our plans from 2020 to 2021. Top priority for us is the UK and we’re thinking staying longer than we typically stay. We’ll go to the Lake District again, but we’ll extend to walk at least the key parts of the National Trail along Hadrian’s Wall. The point we’d start is only about an hour train ride away from our usual haunts.



We made a deposit on a trip to southwest France. Patti wants to spend a week at a school in Tours to practice French. I got interested in human evolution a few years ago, and I want to visit the caves at Lascaux. We booked a walking trip and visit to Lascaux though an organizer based in France. We obviously cancelled that. They hold our deposit but will refund it if we don’t use it by fall 2021. Now we’re thinking Patti might might extend the time in or near Tours and explore the Loire Valley.



Conclusion: We aren’t travelling in 2020. We don’t have to think about new places to travel in 2021, since we’ll just follow through – hopefully – on our 2020 plans in 2021. But we still enjoy thinking about the details of how long we would stay and what we will do. We still get pleasure from anticipating the trips.

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