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Coronavirus Threatening Your Travel Plans?

Coronavirus Threatening Your Travel Plans?

We spend a lot of time traveling every year with our Spanish immersion programs. And when we’re not traveling, we’re usually working on some background detail for an upcoming trip. Needless to say, this Coronavirus outbreak (“brote” is outbreak in Spanish) is threatening tens of thousands of people’s travel plans.

If you work in healthcare, you’ve got a lens through which to interpret everything you’re hearing and seeing about this new virus. However, if you don’t work in healthcare, and all you do is watch the news and read the stories 24/7, you’re probably freaking out!

We’ve had our share of freakout moments here at Common Ground too because we have several trips planned for the summer. So we’ve done a good bit of research to find solid information. I thought I would share some with you today in case you’re thinking about upcoming travel plans over the weekend.

If you’re concerned about an upcoming trip, you might be asking yourself some of these questions this weekend:

Where can I figure out how bad it really is where I’m planning to travel?

At Common Ground, we use 2 sources to assess threat levels in countries where we travel with clients: the CDC for health concerns & the State Dept for security threats.

  • The CDC has a 3-tier health rating system. We have relied heavily on this over the last 2 decades of traveling with clients through Ebola, Malaria, H1N1, and Zika outbreaks. Level 1 is Practice Usual Precautions. Level 2 is Practice Enhanced Precautions. And Level 3 is Avoid all Non-Essential Travel. The CDC lists countries that fit each category of enhanced precautions & a brief description of what’s going on there. And for Level 1, it lists things you’ve maybe never heard of like “MonkeyPox in Nigeria” and “Chikungunya in Ethiopia”. So, check out the CDC travel site to get a no-nonsense & no-hype interpretation of health risks abroad.
  • The State Department has a 4-tier security rating system. We’ve used this in the past when the socio-political situation in Nicaragua went sideways a couple of years ago, when Mexico took a turn for the worse with an uptick in Narco activity, when there were protests in the streets last fall in Ecuador. Level 1 is Exercise Normal Precautions. Level 2 is Exercise Increased Caution. Level 3 is Reconsider Travel. Level 4 is Do Not Travel. Use the link above and enter the country you’re planning to visit to see what the State Department recommends on how to stay safe and have a fun trip.

How do I stay safe and healthy amidst the Coronavirus threat?

Every doctor, virologist, public health & infectious disease specialist we listen to or read articles from is saying the same thing:

  1. Stay away from sick people.
  2. Wash your hands often. If you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer.
  3. Keep your hands away from your face.
  4. Sneeze and cough into your elbow and not into your hands.
  5. Wash your hands often
  6. Wash your hands often
  7. Wash your hands often

Who is really most at risk for serious complications?

The data show that older adults and people with chronic illness are the most susceptible and most likely to have serious complications from the Coronavirus.

In fact the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology just published a journal article (2/17/20) stating that ≈ 80% of all cases of Coronavirus were mild cases. The chronic illnesses mentioned in the Chinese study (that contribute to serious complications) are: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease & hypertension.

Nobody wants to get sick, but the facts seem to be saying that young and healthy individuals are at lower risk for serious complications with Coronavirus.

What sort of travel insurance options do I have at my disposal to protect my travel investment?

Travel insurance is available, but tricky. There isn’t a standard travel insurance policy on the planet that will cover you cancelling your trip because of Coronavirus. There is, however, a policy add-on that some companies offer called Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage. It’s expensive, but it’s nice to have for peace of mind.

Here’s the trick – you have to purchase your CFAR coverage within 14 – 20 days of making your initial trip deposit (policy specific). So, if you booked your travel over Christmas break – forget about adding CFAR coverage now. However, if you’ve just booked or if you’re considering booking because you’re optimistic about summer travel, take a look at the policies that travelinsurance.com offers. This is who we use & recommend for CFAR coverages.

Where is it safe to travel?

The absolute best place to travel right now (in Coronavirus terms) is anywhere you like in Antarctica… but don’t forget to take your jacket and plenty of snacks. I hear it gets cold at night there and that good restaurants are pretty hard to find 😊.

Latin America is in pretty good shape at the moment as well, with many fewer cases than Europe. The added bonus for much of Latin America currently is that it’s not cold and flu season right now.

Obviously, if you’re looking for a top-notch Spanish immersion program, we’d be honored to work with you in either Ecuador or Costa Rica this summer.


I hope the above information is useful and helps you assess your upcoming travel plans. Comment below if we can answer any questions for you or help in any other way. Safe travels,

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Ecuador Spanish Immersion
Newest Program!
Spanish Immersion programs in Ecuador
In Otavalo & the Amazon

1-2 weeks in length

June 13 & June 20, 2020
Host family, hotel, or hostel
20 hrs/week language school
Tuesday – Thursday community service outreach projects
Great day trips
Optional backpacking, science & wilderness medicine course in Amazon!
Interprofessional mix of fellow travelers
Open to Adults, Families, High Schoolers, Undergrads, Grad Students, Teachers & Healthcare workers
24/7 CGI Leadership
Header icon
Costa Rica Spanish Immersion
Easiest Travel
Spanish immersion Program in Costa Rica
In Santo Domingo de Heredia

1-6 weeks in length

June 27 & July 4, 2020
Host family, hotel, or hostel
20hrs/week Spanish Classes
Tuesday – Thursday community service outreach projects
Amazing beaches, Volcanoes, Nat'l Parks, etc.
A great place to include your family or significant other for a post-trip vacation!
Interprofessional mix of fellow travelers
Open to Adults, Families, High Schoolers, Undergrads, Grad Students, Teachers & Healthcare workers
24/7 CGI Leadership

All Spanish Immersion Programs have space limits and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact Us to reserve a space for 30 days w/ no obligation.

Rory Foster
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Rory is passionate about the Spanish language, an expert instructor, and specifically energized by the practical use of language in industry & community settings.
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