Coronavirus: Travel Plans during COVID-19

A lot of people have been asking me about my thoughts and travel plan changes due to Coronavirus so I sat down and wrote them out first on facebook but now in a bit more detail here on my blog so it's easier to share. First off, I'm really glad that I'm not in my home country right now, not because of fears of getting the COVID-19 virus or dying, but because of how fearful and panicked everyone is.

Being a digital nomad and having location independence has a million benefits, including in times of crisis or fear. Just being able to work remotely from home, the beach, or here on my balcony in a small surf town while everyone else is freaking out and panicking back home is a huge benefit. And if things actually do take a turn for the worse and it does become a pandemic, I'm glad I am able to continue my life and earn money online while in isolation or hiding. But this is also an amazing time to go be able to travel to popular tourist destinations without the crowds at half the cost if that's a risk you're willing to take. For me, I have more of a balanced, rational mindset when it comes to traveling during the Coronavirus outbreak. Keep reading for my 8 thoughts and action plans.

1. Am I Worried?

No. There is a close to 0.0001% chance of me or most people I know dying from COVID-19. I only worry about things that are either in my control, or have a significant chance of actually happening. We are all much more likely to die from a car accident, or second hand smoke than we are from Coronavirus. I do worry about the elderly and those who don't have strong immune systems, but I also know that there are scientists working on vaccines for that and by me panicing or being fearful, it's not helping the situation.

2. Do I Take Precautions?

Yes. I wash my hands properly. I don't touch my face. I avoid coughing or sick people and large crowds. I will wear a mask if get sick to avoid spreading. I do this regardless if there is a news scare or not. It's a lifetime habit that I've developed. Also by being physically strong and having a healthy immune system, getting enough vitamin D from the sun, exercise and having low levels of stress will ensure that my chances of fighting the illness naturally are higher than the average person.

3. Does it Affect My Travel.

Maybe. It's annoying more than dangerous as right now it's completely blown out of proportion and fear mongering to get news headlines. The fatality rate itself doesn't affect my travel, the overblown reactions from the news spreading fear may. If things get bad, I will simply extend my trip here in Sri Lanka until it blows over, that could be by 1 month, or even 6 months or longer if needed.

Either way, I generally slow travel and only take a flight every 2-3 months anyways as a slow travel digital nomad (slowmad) which shouldn't be a big deal. But I would recommend staying away from a lot of crowded airports and planes if you are concerned. Another reason not to travel quickly and go in and out of airplanes often.

I recomend everyone stay where you are and stop traveling until this is over. Don't panic fly home for no reason or move to somewhere with more freedom. This is an excellent opportunity to see popular tourist sites especially in Italy without the crowds and at 50% off the cost if you are already there, just stay there.  Do not fly to Italy during this time out of a precaution, but if I was already there, I would happily stay for the entire 2 months and make the most of the trip.

4. Is China to Blame?

Yes. Mainland China itself and the government, the Chinese Communist Party is to blame by allowing terrible food and health standards all while continuing to promote a culture where people still think it's a health benefit to eat exotic animals. I've been to China in past years and saw how unsanitary their food was first hand and how little anything could be trusted as safe.

The government is to blame for covering up the problem instead of addressing it as well as keeping it's citizens ignorant starting with killing off anyone who was educated during great leap forward and today continuing to keep people ignorant of the outside world and any criticisms through the great firewall of China.

5. Are Chinese people to Blame?

No. I know this is tricky if you read point #4, but don't be racist to everyday Chinese or Asian people as 99.99999% had nothing to do with it, aren't sick or spreading the virus. Don't be ignorant yourself or allow others to be racist. If you want to take action, change the system itself, don't blame the citizens, and definitely don't be racist towards random American or Canadian born Asian people who have nothing to do with the problem just because they look the part.

Points #4 and #5 may be confusing as in this modern overly politically correct world we live in, we're told to never blame anyone and to keep everything in. The problem is that the core problems never get addressed, and tension slowly builds until there is a big over the top response which then often results in ignorant racism. Remember, if you want to take action, change the system itself, don't blame the citizens.

6. My Travel Plans.

My plan is to continue my travel plans as normal unless the situation gets worse, there are mandatory quarnetires or flights get canceled. Luckily each of my flights are spaced 2 months apart and I am fine staying where I am so there is no rush. The only thing that would affect it is if one of the cities or countries I fly into has a quarantine, canceled flights or if the country's citizens start becoming racist towards Asians or Chinese looking people as it would be annoying to deal with on a daily basis.

Here are my travel plans for 2020 which I plan to continue with. If I was planning a fast travel trip where I would move cities or countries every week, I would slow down my travel and stay in each place for at least a month so I don't risk spreading an infection without knowing. This is another key of why it's always a good thing to travel slow.

7. Plan B / Escape Plan.

If things actually get bad, I'll deal with it when that happens. It's a completely waste of time and energy worrying now, or following the latest news headlines. If things actually get bad, I'll just stay in Sri Lanka in my little surf town with a small population until it blows over.

I am currently living in a small beach town with a very small population, right on the beach. I spend most of my day sitting on a surfboard, or on my balcony overlooking the ocean while working on my laptop in relative self isolation. I have a flight to Kiev, Ukraine on April 1st, 2020, but already have a plan in place, to stay here longer if things get bad there.

Update: Ukraine has banned all foreigners from traveling into Ukraine for 2 weeks, meaning my flight will be canceled. I've already gotten a refund on my 6 week Airbnb booking, and will remain here in Sri Lanka until things clear up.

Here's the 30 Day Update on What Happened

8. Final Thoughts.

The news is toxic and is designed to keep everyone scared. No with social media, everything gets blown out of proportion. It's the fear itself that hurts us most. Turn off the TV, stop reading the news and go live your life.

Watch this video below for more in depth info on everything I just talked about above.

Wishing everyone well,

Johnny FD

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  1. Great article! Thanks for sharing. We have a vacation we are planning in April and I'm a little worried about flying across the country with two toddlers because people are crazy about coronavirus, but we'll see how it goes.

    1. Just keep an eye out on the airline and the country's websites for any cancellations, changes, as things are changing quickly. Personally, I would just monitor the situation and go as planned if nothing changes for the worse. But I'm sure others would have their own opinions as well.

  2. I've got friends in Chiang Mai who mentioned how empty it is there right now but they felt too it's blown out of proportion.

    Not going to let myself get deterred from returning there soon. In fact I saw a poll regarding the 2020 Chiang Mai SEO conference and the majority who voted felt the same way, too. :)

    That being said, I do hope this is over pretty soon. The exaggerated media coverage and people's perceptions make things a mess for the rest of us.

    1. A big part of why Chiang Mai is empty now is that March is also the burning season, where the air quality is bad. With Corona and the smog, most digital nomads have left for the islands or other countries. The ones who have stayed mostly stay indoors with filtered air conditioning.

      I'm sure things will be more than fine for November. I would personally go back anytime after April 13th when the air normally gets better.


  3. Can americans get a 6 month visa in Sri Lanka?

    1. Technically yes. Most countries, including Americans get 30 days on arrival with an (ETA - Electronic Visa). We can then extend, either by going into Colombo Immigration or doing it through an agent (like I did) and ask for up to 90 more days. We can do this twice before leaving the country, giving us a total of 6 months in Sri Lanka without leaving.

      However it involves paying $305 usd in total. Which isn't terrible, but it's still $50 a month. It's MUCH cheaper for non-americans. A German could do the same for $100 total. ($16 a month)


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