Northern Italy, China, South Korea, Japan. We know where NOT to go in this season of the coronavirus, but where CAN we go, safely, when our passion for seeing the world outpaces our patience with staying home? How do we move past fear without being foolhardy?
In the scary, fast-moving news cycles of this virus outbreak, our readers have offered suggestions, many of the “closer-to-home” variety. “My husband and I are going to stay in the 🇺🇸 this year. We decided not to travel abroad. There are so many wonderful things to see in this country,” writes reader Jeanette Myers. “With the coronavirus raging it’s smarter to stay home than travel anywhere. I’ve been to 71 countries [and I’m] 88 years old. So I’ll just stay at the lake and enjoy nature,” says Lola Orza. My favorite note comes from Wendy Davy: “I truly hope people see the beauty in their own backyards.” Agreed!
Other readers have offered advice and perspective. Retired university professor Sue Carter cautions that statistical information about the outbreak must be interpreted in the context of other epidemics. At any rate, “Travel precautions that promote safe health are always top of mind. Certainly, while there are no absolute guarantees, there are ways to minimize infections including cautions such as wiping down airplane surfaces, vaccinations, avoiding intimate contact and maintaining a three-foot distance from others as much as possible,” she writes.
Some adventurous readers have offered a go-where-it-isn’t approach, but we suggest keeping constantly updated (here's how coronavirus could become a pandemic); buying trip insurance and being prepared to cancel if things change; and researching your destination (including available medical services) before departure. In a few weeks, we will likely know if warming temperatures will dissipate this frightening new virus. In the meantime, we’ll keep on top of its development, emerging treatments, and best practices—like where is the safest place to sit on a plane?
TODAY IN A MINUTE
• Beyond coal: Mike Sharp’s dad was a coal miner. Mike makes his living on the river, as a guide for the tourists who want to experience Appalachia’s world-class rafting. He represents the promise of Fayetteville, West Virginia, and its fast-moving New River, writes Stephen Starr for Nat Geo.
• Wildflower season: These tourists got a special treat when exploring California’s Joshua Tree National Park: an explosion of wildflowers. Alex Pulaski, writing for the Los Angeles Times, called it “the frosting on the cake.”
• Worth the paddle: That’s what writer David Brown calls a trip to Georgia’s Sea Islands. Many of the history-rich barrier islands, such as Sapelo, are only accessible by water. As one Sapelo resident tells the Washington Post: “Nobody bothers you out here. No need to lock your house. ... No crime. No police. No government.”
• Book club: Our in-house travel book club’s next read is Disappearing Earth, by Julia Phillips. As NPR wrote: It’s a mystery set in volcanic Kamchatka “in transition from its Soviet-era sleepiness into post-Communist Wild West-like corruption.” Read along with us!
—curated and edited by David Beard
THE LAST GLIMPSE
A precarious exile: When the Mediterranean island of Elba couldn’t hold Napoleon, the Waterloo-defeated French leader was sent in 1815 to the isolated Atlantic island of St. Helena. He died there in 1821. Above, photographer Robert Ormerod captures the island’s capital, Jamestown, nestled between volcanic mountains.