Charlene and I just got back from a 6 week trip around America. 8000 miles and 16 States. We have, over the years, traveled all over the world, but this trip may qualify as the weirdest of them all! See the sky in the photo to the right. That’s us driving into a storm in Kansas, it took us two hours to go 20 miles. I chose that as the first photo of this blog to make a point: Travel in America right now is a little more interesting but the simple fact is travel is always a little risky. The chances of that storm in Kansas killing us was about the same as the increased risk of us getting Corona Virus during our trip.
This blog is not about our trip. Which was amazing, but instead it is about the travel philosophy and attempting to logically analyze the risks of travel.
I know, I’m being weird. I haven’t written a blog in a while and you want some travel tips and you want to know as Geezers some travel advice. Well, today we’re talking travel philosophy because it is heavy on my mind. I think everyone has a different travel philosophy. Some of us want to travel in safety and comfort and some of us like to occasionally scare ourselves. That storm was plenty scary.
Char and I definitely fall into that second category. Give us a $50 Travel Lodge instead of that $150 Marriott, give us a train ride across Thailand instead of a quick 30-minute flight. We travel for the adventure we love the unexpected and we often go where many people would feel uncomfortable.
Back to that “travel philosophy thing”. In my college philosophy classes, this nut job professor would ask a question like, “Do you step in a field if you know snakes are in it?” and then expect a bunch of hungover freshman students to give him some kind of richly rewarding answer. Well, my question in this blog is to ask a bunch of cooped up, growing slightly stir crazy, possibly hungover retired seniors do you travel in these ominous times or continue to hunker down in your homes?
In that philosophy class, one of the brighter students might have asked, “how many snakes.” That’s a good question. In our dilemma, that question should be modified slightly to, what are the chances of me contracting the Corona Virus if I travel or stay home?
Well, this is where it gets complicated. For example, if Charlene and I stayed cooped up in our house in Florida my chances of getting the virus over a six week period was about .69 % or one chance in 145 (that’s based on 50,000 cases of the virus per day in America and a 45-day trip which means at that infection rate 2,250,000 Americans would be infected during my trip. I then took that 2,250,000 infected virus individuals and divided it into the 328 million people in the United States). OK, that’s the average risk, so if I do this trip stay in hotels, eat out and visit family how much does that behavior increase my risk of infection.
First, don’t let anyone tell you that it won’t increase your risk of infection. If you do a road trip your risk or getting the Corona Virus WILL increase. That’s not the issue. The issue is, like the snakes in the field question, how much? I think that a reasonable estimate is about double the chances of getting the virus. That takes the .69% chance of contracting the virus up to about a 1.38% chance of contracting the virus. I then had to calculate the chances of the virus being fatal, I am 66 and in my age group, the virus is fatal in 3.6% of the cases so the chances of me dying of the virus is: .o24% ( 24 times in 100,000) if I stay cooped up and .048% ( 48 times in 100,000) if I spend 45 days running and playing across America. For many that risk might be unacceptable. For Charlene and me it was acceptable, mainly because we were going crazy just sitting in the house.
We now have a logically developed numerical analysis of the risk of our 45-day road trip. Is it 100% accurate? NOPE but it beats allowing raw fear to dictate your behavior.
At all times during the pandemic, EVERYONE should mask, maintain social distancing, and practice proper hygiene. That’s a no brainer, on the trip we masked, we utilized social distancing and we washed and sanitized our hands constantly because we respect our fellow human beings and have no desire to put ourselves and the people we come in contact with at unnecessary risks.
When we travel to Africa, we weigh the risks and do the best we can to base our decision on fact and logic, not fear. Travel is an amazing part of the human experience. Whether you wonder 8000 miles or drive 10 miles and watch a sunset at the beach it will enrich your life but you really do need to make a sane, logical, and well thought out decision about the true risks of your travel decisions. If you allow only fear to dictate your decisions the quality of your life will be reduced and we all only have so many hours on this earth.
I promise to get back to travel deals in my next blog, thanks for letting me rant.