Benson, a marketing strategist from Grand Rapids, Michigan, monitors official sources, such as travel advisories and State Department newsletters, and relies on an unofficial network of friends and contacts in its destinations. It has already scratched Romania from the list, because it is too close to the conflict.
“I would reconsider my trip if contacts in the area advised me to do so and if the unrest spreads to areas closer to where I plan to be,” she says. “To this day, I still plan to travel.”
Many Americans do the same. Just under half of American travelers (47%) are delaying travel plans to Europe because they want to see how the war in Ukraine is progressing, according to a survey by MMGY Global, a travel marketing agency. About the same number of people (50%) say they are concerned about possible delays and cancellations of flights, trains and cruises, as well as the possibility of border closures.
Amy Boyle, a Chicago photographer, began planning her trip by diving deep into her destination, as well as consulting State Department notices, local media, and social media posts. Like Benson, she prefers to go somewhere where she knows people on the ground. For her, that meant a trip beginning in England this spring. So far, all of his research suggests that his vacation will be safe.
“I don’t want to put myself or anyone else in danger,” Boyle says. “But I’m also confident that canceling all of our travel plans will continue to hurt the economies of other countries as well as the growing importance for us as humans to connect in person again. “
Apart from research, what can you do to protect your vacation from war?
“Insurance, insurance, insurance,” says Laura Heidt, insurance adjuster at Brownell Travel, a travel agency in Birmingham, Ala.
And not just any insurance. Most travel insurance policies are of the “named perils” type, which protect policyholders in limited circumstances, such as if you fall ill while traveling or if your airline loses your luggage. These policies generally exclude wars. But a cancel for any reason policy allows you to cancel your vacation if you don’t feel safe and get 50-75% of your prepaid, non-refundable expenses refunded.
“Cancellation for any reason” insurance costs more than regular insurance – usually between 10 and 12% of the value of your trip. “But it’s worth it in uncertain times,” says Heidt.
Lisa Conway, head of underwriting at travel insurance company Battleface, says insurers don’t yet consider most European countries to be war-affected areas in Ukraine. But people planning a summer vacation should take this into account.
“I recommend looking for travel insurance options that give you the most flexibility and choice based on your specific needs,” she adds.
Annie Erling Gofus, travel consultant at Wunderbird who specializes in booking trips to Central and Eastern Europe, says the biggest change she recommends to customers is that they add emergency evacuation plans to their travel policies. ‘travel insurance. Companies such as Medjet or Global Rescue can extract customers from a country if conditions become unsafe.
“If a client has planned a trip to Central Europe, I would suggest non-medical evacuation coverage,” she says.
The real benefit of working with professionals like Gofus is that they’ll be with you every step of the way. If something goes wrong, a knowledgeable travel consultant will work hard to get you home safely.
But experts say it’s not enough to tick all the boxes for a destination, making sure the State Department, your travel advisor and local news reports agree it’s safe to travel. It is the “what if” that is worth pondering. Specifically: What if the conflict extends beyond Ukraine? What if the oil import ban not only leads to higher gas prices, but also a full-scale energy crisis? Then there is the joker: the coronavirus. What if it caught fire again this summer?
“Consider your destination carefully,” says Narendra Khatri, director of Insubbuy, a travel insurance company. “No one can say for sure what this conflict will look like by the summer.”
So, is traveling in Europe safe? That’s what I was wondering, because it’s time for me to make arrangements to travel to Turkey and Greece this spring. Experts say it does – for now. Christine Petersen, CEO of SmarTours, a tour operator that offers tours in Europe, says you can safely visit Europe if you know where to go.
“A big mistake would be to lump all the countries in the region together,” she says. “It can be a common mistake to have a knee-jerk reaction and stop travel plans to other parts of Eastern Europe – or even Western Europe.”
Ukraine and Russia are of course red zones, says Harding Bush, head of security operations for Global Rescue. Poland and Moldova are yellow zones. (Poland because of the refugee situation, and Moldova because experts say it could also be drawn into the conflict.) Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, while safer, should still be” bottom” of your list, he said.
“War”, he says, “is not a tourist attraction”.
Prospective travelers should consider local and national public health guidelines regarding the pandemic before planning any travel. Information on travel health advisories can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s interactive map showing travel recommendations by destination and on the CDC’s travel health advisories webpage.