Home » Discussion: is it unethical to travel right now?
Is it unethical to travel right now? A popular Reddit thread is discussing this topic right now and it has (unsurprisingly) produced some very polarized opinions. We highlight a few and weigh in the discussion.

Discussion: is it unethical to travel right now?

by Jeremy B

Is it unethical to travel right now? A popular Reddit thread is discussing this topic right now and it has (unsurprisingly) produced some very polarized opinions. We highlight a few and weigh in the discussion.

COVID rages

Coronavirus infections are on the rise again. News reports about highlighting the stresses being once again placed on hospitals. People are clearly experiencing pandemic fatigue. They miss their loved ones. They are tired of wearing masks. Many are tired of the easily-found examples of hypocrisy in their leaders. Oh yeah…and conspiracy theories still abound.

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Bing.com COVID US Infections Map

Is it unethical to travel right now?

Most states and governments are still strongly suggesting that people avoid non-essential travel (leisure travel), but aside from a few countries (like Greece, who have to text the government to even leave their homes), there are still few travel bans in place on non-essential travel.

The subreddit /SoloTravel is asking this very question right now and the opinions, much like most of the United States these days, are polarized. Here’s the initial question where /killthenerds gets the conversation going.

Then the fun begins.

First, a few innocuous comments.

a screenshot of a chat

Then it picks up.

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a screenshot of a social media post

A few more measured responses suggest it is unwise to travel right now.

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a white background with black text
a screenshot of a white text

The conversation pretty much devolves after this point. So much so that the subreddit is now closed for further comments. You can see the full thread here.

So, is it unethical?

In the early days of the pandemic, many countries implemented near-total travel bans and implemented mass quarantines. So much was still unknown about the coronavirus at the time and many (probably rightfully so) made a compelling case that it was unwise and probably unethical to travel at that time.

However, now, much more is known about this illness. Treatments and therapies are far more successful, fatality rates have declined and it’s now factually known that simply wearing a face mask dramatically reduces your chances of contracting the virus – even on a plane.

Here at the CBoardingGroup we’ve traveled a few times during the pandemic, both for work and pleasure. We’ve done both air travel and road trips (to be clear, we are definitely not traveling anywhere near as much by at least 80%). We were incredibly responsible each time, wearing masks, washing hands, wiping down surfaces, socially distancing, etc. No issues whatsoever and we never contracted the virus. We also felt relatively safe too. Was it unethical?

In our opinion, that’s a definite no. In fact, a case could be made that traveling is an ethical thing TO DO, given the massive devastation wreaked on the travel industry with countless numbers of jobs lost. We are confident making this statement for the following reasons:

  • The risk of death is very low
  • Travel (particularly air travel and road trips) are very safe – if you follow the rules
  • We are not in a high-risk category
  • We explicitly follow the rules including socially distancing and wearing masks – we also go a bit anal on the hand sanitizer and wiping surfaces down
  • If we don’t travel the industry will collapse and we believe playing even a small role in propping up this industry is important
  • When we return, we follow the rules by self quarantining, testing, mask-wearing, etc

Definition of unethical

According to MW, unethical is, “not conforming to a high moral standard: morally wrong.” Other definitions include:

  • not morally correct (Google)
  • lacking moral principles; unwilling to adhere to proper rules of conduct. not in accord with the standards of a profession (Dictionary.com)

Google says that “morals” are defined as, “concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character.”

In our opinion, it is NOT unethical to travel right now. It may be unwise (perhaps), but unethical? Yeah, no.

What say you? Weigh in below!

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Dean November 15, 2020 - 11:58 am

You are referencing reddit? The website where the dumbest people on earth go to complain about living in 2020?

I’m an American, traveling in Europe, right now. Have been for months.
About to head to South America for 4 months.

Anyone AVOIDING traveling now, is utterly selfish.
The lack of travel industry is ruining lives of poor people all over the world.

Everyone locking themselves in their homes – with their delivered food, computers and internet – should be fined, or at least publicly humiliated.

“Save yourselves, who cares about the poor or less fortunate who rely on travel, or tourism, to feed their families” – reddit users

Selfish people there, just awful creatures.

Christian November 15, 2020 - 12:15 pm

While leisure travel is almost completely unethical at this time, there are a few exceptions:

Visiting a terminally ill relative or friend who understands the risk but wants to see you anyway. Sometimes, waiting for a vaccine is literally just too long to wait.

Visiting a place when you have undergone repeated testing and still quarantine for a couple of weeks after arriving. Australia does something like this, which is why our friends down under can live their lives in a largely normal fashion.

Road trips can also work given serious precautions, although given the limitations or closings of museums, amusement parks, etc., it makes for a much more limiting experience.

A lot of people will throw out a red herring by saying things like how they are in low risk categories. This would make a lot of sense if the only person affected was themselves. Unfortunately, people are perfectly capable of feeling fine while still passing on the disease to lots of others, some of whom may face work loss, hospitalization, or even death for themselves or a loved one.

As unpleasant as it is, the moral and rational thing to do is wait. I get it, waiting sucks. The thing to do is wait for a vaccine, then go. I’m itching to travel too; it’s just not the time yet.

Skaner November 15, 2020 - 4:30 pm

Could care less. Biz award availability is wide open to any destination, now is the time to go places. I’m about to head overseas for the second time this year and I don’t feel a lick of guilt.


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