Travel Smart: To Go Or Not To Go

When there’s a crisis, do you have to cancel your plans? Gourmet’s travel editor weighs in.
empty airplane

These days, it’s no wonder people are afraid to travel. If it’s not war in one territory, it’s an epidemic sweeping across another. How are we supposed to decide, Should I stay or should I go? I’ve never put much faith in the State Department’s travel warnings, which often seem either knee-jerk reactions to the obvious (no, sir, you won’t catch me on a cruise to Somalia) or totally lacking in nuance. Having lived in Colombia, I take the warning against visiting that country’s remote Pacific coast to heart, but I wouldn’t hesitate to return to the tranquil coffee-growing highlands outside Pereira, where some friends still have a farm. What about the Centers for Disease Control? It warns against all non-essential travel to Mexico on account of the swine flu. The E.U. has issued similar warnings to its citizens to avoid travel to Mexico and the U.S. (Hey, wait a minute.) With few exceptions, TV newscasters aren’t helping to make sense of it all, jumping all over swine flu like it’s the Super Bowl. Jon Stewart (one of the only major TV personalities who is acknowledging the pumped-up hysteria) ran clips on The Daily Show last week of four different reporters insisting, “We’re not trying to freak anybody out here.” As Stewart asked rhetorically: “Then what the hell are you trying to do?”

When our Vice President questioned the wisdom of getting on an airplane—any plane, headed anywhere—I realized how extreme the collective fears had become. Would I go to Mexico right now? Maybe not. But maybe my tolerance for risk isn’t as high as yours. The decision really comes down to your personal comfort level. As for flying at all—sorry, Mr. Biden—I just booked a trip to L.A., and I think I’ll be fine.

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