Risk analysis for Spring 2022
July 5, 2021 8:29 AM   Subscribe

I live in Scandinavia and want to go to Italy for a workshop next year. I just read Ed Yong's piece in The Atlantic about Covid variants, which will be with us forever. If I skip this workshop, there's no replacement. It is a pricy gift to myself. I don't get my money back if I cancel. No one can predict the future but I am trying to. What should I do?
posted by Bella Donna to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: GO!
You can be vaccinated and everyone is going to be more careful going forward.
posted by mumimor at 8:47 AM on July 5, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Are you vaccinated? I am optimistic about vaccines' ability to resist variants, and, living in the US, I am also optimistic about my families' ability to have access to booster shots when (and if) they become necessary.

We also know that masks, handwashing, good ventilation, and social distancing are effective, even moreso for vaccinated people—reducing an already low risk.

I'm not sure if your concern is about travel, or about what happens when you're at your workshop. I hope that by Spring 2022, the chaos of the current travel landscape will have abated. I don't know if you would be flying, traveling by train, or driving, but in each scenario there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

I am looking forward to a conference in July of 2022. It's not a once-in-a-lifetime event but I usually go every year and I've missed it two years in a row. I don't see anything that would prevent it from happening, or that would keep me from going, even though here in the US we are saddled with a huge segment of the population that won't get vaccinated. I am looking forward with great pleasure to next summer's travel. I think you should, too.
posted by Orlop at 8:47 AM on July 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Variants might mutate to the point where the vaccines don’t help. We almost might just have another totally unrelated pandemic. I’m not sure which is more likely, but at a certain point either we all just give up and never leave our houses again, or we accept the uncertainty and trust the vaccines enough to keep living our lives.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:48 AM on July 5, 2021 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Book, but take out trip insurance. If future outbreaks cause disruption to international travel that prevent you from attending, you will at least be able to get your money back.
posted by Hogshead at 8:54 AM on July 5, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I would say book. I don't know if it's realistic to be able to purchase insurance for pandemic-related cancellation, but you never know. My mom and I cancelled a trip to the UK in May 2020 knowing that it means we probably won't ever see my grandad again and that sucks more than the money. We did eventually get our money back, but for a long time, we only had the promise of being able to reschedule without charge--fat lot of good that does us if my grandad's dead. I tell you this story because for however many months it was before we got refund, I really didn't care that I was out however many hundreds of dollars--I'd spent the money months earlier, it was gone. It'll suck if you're not able to go, but I think the length of time between spending the money (i.e. now) and needing to make the decision to not to go reduces the risk of the sunk cost fallacy.
posted by hoyland at 9:09 AM on July 5, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I don't think anyone can reasonably predict the virus situation 9 months from now. I end up concluding that if universal COVID is a thing, the world will adapt. There is no reasonable world where people stop traveling between countries indefinitely. Maybe the world will adapt with conferences that move virtual, or planes that are physically partitioned between passengers. I do not think the world will stop.

Right now, vaccines work. Efficacy is amazingly high, and pharmaceutical companies are already starting to make second rounds of vaccines. Even better, with the experience we've had, they can be spun even faster!

I would plan on a trip in Spring 2022. Not because I think it's necessarily "safe" - an ambiguous metric that no one will ever truly satisfy - but because the alternative - a world without any international passage - is worse.

take out trip insurance

Without entire disagreement with this suggestion, be aware travel insurance now will cover COVID infection or COVID pandemic precautions disrupting travel plans, but not COVID fears. In other words, if OP is more cautious than the government, travel insurance won't help them.
posted by saeculorum at 9:12 AM on July 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

Book the plane and hotel tickets that allow cancellation with full refund for any reason up to 24 hours beforehand. They will cost (maybe a lot) more, but you won't have the "but I'll have wasted my money!" anxiety if the situation isn't great for travelling. Posters above are right that insurance probably won't be helpful here - but the more expensive "flexible" bookings will.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:24 PM on July 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Do research the option on purchasing trip insurance. In the US, you can get plans at all different levels of coverage including some that will let you cancel for any reason (not just illness). It might also cover conference fees.
posted by metahawk at 4:08 PM on July 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Also stock up on KN95 masks or similar. As opposed to early pandemic when real PPE was impossible to get, it is now purchase able and so things are less dire in case of future flareups just because of that.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:33 PM on July 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

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