COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Travel
Just like that, things changed, and it affected everyone
I’ve spent several decades circling the sun, and inevitably things change. Some things change slowly, like the flow of the river smoothing the surface of a rock. Other things change at a faster pace, such as the construction of a house. Still other things change, just like that.
When my daughter was born, things changed just like that. Outside my family and friends not many people were affected.
With COVID-19, things changed just like that, but this affects everyone.
I work for a global company and several of our divisions travel over 50% of the time. By Mid-February we banned all international travel. This affects everyone. At the same time, we canceled three major customer events between April and June. This affects everyone.
Monday, March 9th I drove to Atlanta instead of flying. I decided to drive because no where on my bucket list is an item labeled, “Spend time in an airplane with a threatening virus on the loose”. This affects everyone. My parents, both in the eighties, live near our Atlanta office. When in town I always stop in for a visit, not this trip as they’re both in their eighties. This affects everyone.
By Friday, March 13th (they say timing is everything) all company travel was banned.
Typically, my travel is planned out at least two weeks in advance, and over the weekend here’s what I canceled. Two flights, four hotel stays totaling eight nights and one rental car. Those cancelations impacted airline pilots, airline ramp agents, airline gate agents, hotel desk clerks, hotel housekeeping, hotel maintenance, rental car reservations agents, rental car mechanics and rental car detailers. This affects everyone.
Here’s the domino effect of those cancelled travel plans. At minimum there will be eight meals that I won’t eat in restaurants. That impacts hostesses, hosts, chefs, wait staff and dishwashers. This affects everyone. In turn the restaurant won’t require as much food to sell. This impacts the food distributors, truck drivers that deliver the food, processing plants and farmers. This affects everyone.
According to Global Business Travel Association, 1.3 million business trips are taken in the US every day. The previous two paragraphs outlined my two trips over the course of two weeks. I’m sure there’s some sort of a mathematical formula that shows the impact of 1.3 million canceled daily business trips over two weeks. This affects everyone.
I’m based out of Orlando, FL, and most of our city’s income is derived from tourists. Two of our kids work for one of the major theme parks here. Their last day at work was March 15th, and they’re not sure when they’ll be back at work. Disney World, just one of the major theme parks in Orlando, employs 62,000 people, making it the largest single-site employer in the country. This affects everyone.
I’m not a numbers guy at all, just ask my financial planner. Beyond the devastating health consequences from COVID-19 there are other things to consider. Nine months from now I’m willing to bet there’s an increase in child births. Six months from now there might be an increase in divorces, and two months from now many will have their financial world turned completely upside-down. This affects everyone.
My best advice to all is use tolerance and compassion.
Tolerance, if you’ve got it hidden away, it’s time to bring it out. Almost all of us have had their daily routines changed. The grocery stores will be under stocked with items you want, and conference calls will be interrupted with screaming kids and barking dogs. This affects everyone.
Compassion, you have no idea what someone is going through or what they're struggling with. I certainly didn’t coin that phrase, but it’s true. Possibly the person in front of you driving 20 MPH under the speed limit just got laid off due to COVID-19, or possibly their relative has been diagnosed with COVID-19. This affects everyone.
Right now, today, all of us can make a difference and who doesn’t want to make a difference? Stay home, channel your inner-introvert and stay home, if you don’t this will get worse long before it gets better. This affects everyone.
We all have a responsibility, not only to ourselves, but to everyone. The reason? This affects everyone.