As reports continue to come in about the swine flu and travel, it's important to remind you that there's a great deal of difference between an abundance of concern and the worst four letter word that starts with f --- FEAR.
When it comes to travel to Mexico, we need to put all of this concern into some realistic historical context.
Remember the SARS "outbreak" and the SARS "crisis?"
Well, there was NO SARS outbreak. And the crisis happened because no one traveled to the region. It wasn't a medical emergency, but an economic one powered by fear. It didn't stop smart travelers from going, and when I traveled during that time to Hong Kong - when hotel occupancies hovered around 3 per cent - I had one of the best travel experiences ever.
How about the Avian Flu? As things developed, about the only people infected (and there were incredibly few of them) were those who actually worked on chicken farms.
And who can forget the hoof and mouth diseasescare in the United Kingdom? Did that stop you from traveling to London? And when you got off the plane, did any people frothing at the mouth greet you? Of course not.
And now we have swine flu. Should we be concerned? Of course we should. But concern should lead to proactive thinking.
Check with your doctor. Based on age, your own immune system and medical history (as in, do you have a pre-existing medical condition) - those should determine whether or not you travel- to Mexico, or for that matter...to Montana.
Then it gets down to your own personal hygiene routine. Do you wash your hands before and after eating? Before and after going to the bathroom? And when you fly, consider all the surfaces and fabrics you touch. Short of wearing a hazmat suit onto your plane (and considering the condition of the interior cabins or many airplanes these days, it might not be such a bad idea) you need to wash your hands before and after your flight. This is simple, basic, but effective common sense.
Now, having said that, should you travel to countries like Mexico? Embracing the above caveats, then the answer is...of course you can, and you should.
My philosophy is going to sound somewhat politically insensitive, but anytime there's a natural disaster, a civil disturbance or just a medical crisis such as this one, it’s often a great time to travel.
Because you’re traveling when everyone else isn’t, and you’re putting your travel dollars into a destination that desperately needs it. We’re talking great deals, great service, and great opportunities as travel providers roll out the red carpet for your arrival. And in some cases, it gives you an additional opportunity -- to give back. How many vacationers to New Orleans after Katrina helped in the rebuilding effort? Thousands. It was a win-win for all concerned.