2019-2020 Commentary Slider — 29 January 2020
Stay safe, stay local

Coronavirus highlights dangers of travel

By Jackie Chen

On Jan. 19, a man who traveled back to Washington state from China looked for medical care and was discovered to have a new strain of virus that appeared in Wuhan, the city he traveled to. Although he was reported healthy by officials, according to an article from NPR, the virus had already infected 300 people and killed 8. Travel restrictions have already been placed to reduce the spread of the virus, which brings me to my point: traveling outside the country for a vacation is a bad option compared to staying around.

The virus that appeared in China was a sudden incident, but there are very known bugs and infections that have spread due to foreign travel. These symptoms can vary from stomach cramps, minor diarrhea and life threatening infections like malaria, which can be contracted in major parts of Africa, Asia, and South America according to a map from the Centers for Disease Control. Outbreaks of a severe illness have happened before. For example, in 2003, there was an outbreak of a respiratory infection called SARS that spread around the world, infecting 8,098 people and killing 774. 

Another problem I have with traveling is learning the area and the people. If you’ve never been to a location before, you most likely need to learn the customs and common courtesy that exists there. You also have to learn how to get around an unfamiliar location, and potentially get lost. 

If you traveled to a place that uses a different language, you’ll feel even more lost in hoping that someone can understand you if you ask for directions. If no one else is there to help you, maybe a family member traveling with you or one that’s already there, you won’t have the good time you’re looking for.

There might also be a sudden event in your vacation spot that you wouldn’t want to be in. If something like the appearance of that new virus strain in China appears, it might create a dent in your plans or ruin them entirely. By that point, there is no reason for you to stay, trying to salvage experiences that could’ve been avoided by staying around your own country.

Finally, something that really puts me off are the costs of a trip to a different country. Assuming you’re traveling by plane, you have to pay for those plane tickets, which can vary in price based on time and locations. If the country uses a different currency, you also have to get it exchanged. According to an article from The Balance, a financial advice website, if your currency happens to be valued less than the currency you’re exchanging it for, as when people travel from the U.S. to Europe, it’ll increase the costs of your trip overall. Businesses can profit off your visit into the country. 

If you have no one to stay with, you have to pay for a hotel, you have to pay for your own food, and you have to pay for transport. These prices pile up the longer you stay, but why spend a large amount of money to travel if you can just use that money locally, possibly with friends, and have fun together?

Even after all this, I can agree that there are some positive parts of travel. 

“I think people should travel to interact with others and experience places naturally, instead of by word of mouth or through a screen, to learn about the culture there,” said David White, an ESA history teacher who has led several trips to Central America. 

Dainery Escalera, an ESA sophomore, also mentioned that, “Traveling is a positive experience because you can experience new cultures. However, you should at least be prepared for the trip, and learn some of the language at that location. Learning about how other people live differently from you can definitely be an exciting experience, if negative moments of traveling don’t tower over it first.”

However, my opinion still stands: the experience of traveling pales in comparison to staying around for a vacation, due to the hassle it takes, prices, and risks associated with traveling elsewhere. 

Stay at home, or go outside with friends without traveling far, especially when California has long shorelines, thick forests, and bustling cities for a great experience. It’s better than feeling miserable in a foreign location while your money is being wasted.


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