As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the community, the virus is doing what we can't - travel easily through the air. Governments across the world are restricting arrivals from certain countries where there are large numbers of coronavirus cases; planes are sitting on the ground as routes are cancelled for the foreseeable future; and one airline (European-based Flybe) has even collapsed completely.
The coronavirus is having a huge financial effect on the travel industry - probably more than any other sector of the global economy - and that's bad news for travellers, right? Well... it depends how you look at it.
With times tough for airlines and other travel companies, some of them are resorting to drastic sales and promotions to encourage people to book. American Airlines has been offering return flights from Sydney to Washington DC for just $698, for example, while United Airlines has had return flights to Miami for just $645. I think these are the cheapest flights I've ever seen to the east coast of the US.
Looking through some of the deals available at the moment, it seems easier to get a cheap Bali package than a packet of toilet paper. With one deal I've seen, flights, five nights at a resort, plus some meals and activities will cost just $360 per person! There are also excellent deals to destinations like New Zealand, Fiji, and Thailand.
With such low prices, surely you would be a fool not to book this year's holiday? But, hang on, there's still that coronavirus thing, isn't there?
Here's the conundrum for travellers. Although flights and holiday packages are the lowest they have been in years, coronavirus means there is a risk associated with booking them - and taking them. So, let's have a think about whether you should jump on a travel deal right now.
Ultimately, there's always an element of risk when you travel but most of us are normally willing to accept it when we go on holidays.
Firstly, if you (or someone you live with) are in one of the groups that have a high-risk of serious effects from coronavirus, travelling is not a good idea. Not only is there an increased chance of infection at airports, you wouldn't want to get sick in a country with an unreliable health care system. You also wouldn't want to risk bringing something home to a vulnerable family member. Obviously consult your doctor about your personal circumstances, but if you are elderly, have a weak immune system, or a chronic medical condition, you should play it safe and stay at home for now.
Secondly, it would be wise to stay away from areas that have a large number of coronavirus infections. There are lots of destinations in the world, so there's no need to jump on a plane to Italy, South Korea, Iran, China, or other hotspots right now.
And, thirdly, always listen to the travel advice from authorities that are monitoring the situation around the world. The Federal Government's Smartraveller website is an excellent resource and it has some specific information at the moment about going on a cruise, for instance.
But taking a broader view, there needs to be a bit of common sense here (something that fights in supermarkets would suggest is lacking at the moment). You are probably just as unlikely to catch coronavirus on a cheap holiday to Auckland as you are going out to the pub on the weekend. Flying to the USA is probably not much worse than getting the bus to work every day.
The travel industry is getting a lot of feedback that many of the cancellations are actually based on financial - not health - reasons, so it's an important area to investigate before you decide to book a cheap holiday.
I would recommend having a look at the airline's policy about refunding or changing a flight if the destination becomes a riskier place to visit. Quite a few airlines are currently waiving any change fees, to encourage travellers to book now with the confidence they won't be out of pocket if the situation deteriorates.
And check your travel insurance because many policies don't cover pandemics generally and won't cover coronavirus-related issues specifically if you bought it after the virus became well known. If your insurance is just not going to cover the costs of cancelled hotels and flights, that might not be too bad if you bought a bargain anyway. But if doesn't cover medical costs while you're overseas, that's a big gamble (that I personally wouldn't take). Make sure you look at the fine print and find an insurer that will cover you for coronavirus-related healthcare.
Ultimately, there's always an element of risk when you travel but most of us are normally willing to accept it when we go on holidays. The coronavirus should not stop us travelling completely, but it is wise to assess the risks before making any decision and take precautions if you book a trip.
It may turn out that 2020 will bring the cheapest and best holiday of your life - at least you won't be battling the crowds!
Michael Turtle is a journalist who has been travelling the world for nine years. Follow his travel adventures at timetravelturtle.com