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Taking the Kids: Traveling through the COVID-19 crisis

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

"I was worried about not getting back from Italy," said Wendy Schechter. "I'm not worried about getting sick in or quarantined in LA. And if it happens, there are worse places to be stuck and I know that I'm still in the U.S. with access to the best healthcare."

Still, be forewarned that "Restrictions -- like mandatory quarantines or entry denials -- can be imposed without warning," said Scott Hume, Global Rescue's VP of Operations.

Nor will travel insurance come to the rescue if you are quarantined, according to a spokesman for Allianz Global Assistance, a leading travel insurer. If you have travel insurance and get sick, you will be covered but, the spokesman said, "Epidemics are a general exclusion for most travel insurance policies." There are much more expensive "Cancel for Any Reason," policies but they typically only provide reimbursement for 50 percent to 75 percent of the trip cost and that must be purchased within 21 days of your deposit. "The situation changes daily," the spokesman said, noting "There are multiple meetings every day about coverage as we're working with our partners to figure this all out. (InsureMyTrip is providing daily updates on its Coronavirus & Travel Insurance resource page.)

This is a case where you will want to work directly with your travel agent, airline and hotel if you want to postpone or cancel a trip. Follow airlines and hotels on social media for the latest on flexible change policies. (The Washington Post is tracking which airlines are offering what.) A tip: You may get a faster response if you Tweet at airline customer service rather than call, especially as they scramble with millions of passengers changing their plans and with flight cutbacks.

Of course, some travel providers and destinations are as busy as ever. The adventure company OARS, for one, reports bookings are up over the same period of last year while the deluxe tour operator Abercrombie & Kent reports most of their guests are planning to travel as scheduled, though some have shifted plans to alternate destinations.

Travel advisers who are part of the Virtuoso network report travelers are opting for closer to home locations, including the Caribbean and Mexico.

Orlando was as busy as ever, I discovered last week, with the opening of Walt Disney World's latest attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad -- incidentally the first ride-through attraction that features Mickey and Minnie. Star Wars fans were gamely arriving at Hollywood Studios by 7:30 a.m. to get a pass to ride Rise of the Resistance in the park's much buzzed about new land, Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.


"There were more cases at home in Wisconsin than here," said Nancy Dolittle, a longtime Disney fan, here with her daughter, son-in-law and 2-month-old granddaughter.

"We're not worried," said Crystal Myers, visiting from North Carolina with her family, including two young sons, though she added, "We're washing our hands as much as possible."

Good advice wherever you are going this spring. And don't forget the Happy Birthday song, twice.


(For more Taking the Kids, visit and also follow "taking the kids" on, Facebook and Instagram where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments. The Kid's Guide to Philadelphia, the 13th in the kid's guide series, will be out this spring.)




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