If you don’t know, in addition to being the founder of AssistU and being a business and integrity coach, I also work with people at, or preparing for end-of-life in some context or another.
Since March 2, 2020, I’ve done several sessions with young(er) family members who are worried about their parents and grandparents traveling during the COVID-19 outbreak. Rightly so, I say, as data out of China suggests that the death-rate from COVID-19 doubles with each decade past the age of 60 (at 60, it’s a 5% death rate, by 80, it’s nearly 20%).
The decision for people to travel at any age isn’t, in my experience, usually one of certainty about the experience, but about expanding in order to experience greater aliveness. And for elders, that’s no different. In fact, aliveness and opportunity may outweigh everything else when deciding to travel.
Through the questions I’ve received and the conversations I’ve had, I’ve created a list of questions for travelers to ask themselves when deciding whether to travel.
While created for people in higher-risk categories, they would be smart questions for anyone to entertain because no one is immune from this virus or its impact and disruptions. I’m offering them here in case they’d help you decide about upcoming business travel for yourself, as well as to expand your view on what people might want to consider before traveling to an in-person event that you’re holding.
- Can this trip be rescheduled?
- If I rescheduled and ultimately wasn’t able to go for some reason, would not having this travel experience negatively impact my aliveness?
- Do I feel any civic responsibility to help flatten the spread of the virus?
- If so, does my traveling contribute to that, positively or negatively?
- Am I willing to get COVID-19?
- If so, am I willing to be sick away from home?
- If so, do I have the financial resources to pay for medical care (mostly a question for international travelers)?
- If so, do I know what I would do if I were unable to get the medical care I need (as is happening in Italy, and predicted to happen worldwide)?
- If so, am I willing to die away from home?
- If so, do I have my advanced directives in place?
- If so, does my family know what to do if I get sick or die, and do they have the resources they need (money, phone numbers, service providers) to arrange whatever I want them to arrange?
- And even if I don’t get sick, if I weren’t allowed to return home (closed borders, flights suspended, etc), do I know where I would stay, and do I have the resources (mostly money, but could also be meds, the ability to work, etc) to take care of myself away from home for possibly months?
- If I’m still working, would my job be held for me, and/or would my business survive if I were unable to work for weeks or more?
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the decision you make to go or stay isn’t one you make solely for yourself, anymore. It’s one you make for all of us. If there’s one thing to shift around, that would be it, I think.
And so, one final question to consider: If you thought that you might spread the virus to even one person who couldn’t get appropriate care, or who got care but died anyway, would you choose to travel?
And, if you’re considering this from a business perspective, as you decide whether or not to hold an event, if you thought that even one person at your event might get sick and die, would you still hold the event?
These seem to be, at least on the surface, hard answers to come up with. But I think that every one of us, deep down, knows what’s right. The final, final question is…are we willing to do that right thing?
(if you want to learn more about my end-of-life work, that’s here: www.agoodbye.com)
Note: Updated 3/12 to include link to article about Italy, and to change my closing statement; originally, I had said that if the questions could be answered affirmatively, people should travel as long as travel is possible. I see that very differently now because the world has changed a thousand times over since I originally wrote my post.