While there’s still a long road ahead in the battle against the coronavirus, vaccines are beginning to be rolled out and travel is slowly returning to certain destinations.
As international travel restrictions hopefully begin to be eased this year, it’s time to think about how travel has been impacted and what you need to know when booking your first trip post-pandemic.
You’d be forgiven if you’ve forgotten what it was like to travel, as many of us have had our passports tucked away in a drawer for quite some time now. But as the travel industry begins to recover there are many things you need to be aware of before you start planning and booking your first holiday.
Travel planning can be somewhat stressful at the best of times but when you add a pandemic into the mix things can get a bit more complicated.
To help answer some of the top questions travelers are currently asking and prepare you for your first post-COVID vacation, here are some of the tops tips and important advice you need to be aware of.
Tips for Preparing for Your First Post-COVID Holiday
Get Back in Shape
Many of us let ourselves go a bit during the pandemic. We were stuck in our homes during lockdowns and forced to work from home which saw our daily physical activity decline.
With shops, restaurants, and activities closed down, we were forced to binge Netflix and resort to eating unhealthy food ordered from food delivery services as we tried to avoid grocery stores and going out.
We saw gyms and parks close which meant unless we had exercise and weight training equipment or space to do cardio at home we were pretty much out of luck. What this all equated to was many of us putting on the pounds (or kilos) and getting into unhealthy habits.
There are many benefits of getting back in shape for travel. It will give you more energy to enjoy exciting activities, improve your immune system’s chances of fighting off various illnesses while traveling, and make you look great in all your travel pics you post to your socials.
To help you lose any unwanted weight gain you may have experienced, Intermittent Fasting 101 recommends time-restricted eating as an effective and sustainable way to reduce your calorie intake without overhauling your entire diet.
It involves voluntarily refraining from eating during certain periods of each day without having to highly restrict what you eat. It’s more about when and how often you eat rather than what you eat.
Important Information Regarding Flights
When it comes to flying, travelers will notice a number of changes since the pandemic and there are a number of additional precautions you will want to take in terms of prioritizing your health.
You will first need to research if there are any new rules being implemented by the airlines you will be flying with. A number of airlines are now requiring all passengers over a certain age to wear masks and many flights have had the middle seats blocked out to better keep passengers socially distant from one another, which isn’t all that bad since no one likes getting stuck with a middle seat.
Your best bet is to book a window seat as sitting in an aisle seat, although maybe offering more leg room and convenience, will put you in closer contact with more people walking up and down the aisles which makes you more susceptible to catching viruses should anyone onboard be infected with one.
Health professionals recommend you wipe down your personal space on flights, using hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes to disinfect your seat belt, tray table, and personal in-flight entertainment screen.
Try to limit your bathroom visits as much as possible due to the confined space that may have trapped airborne virus particles from other passengers and always remember to sanitize your hands when returning to your seat after using the bathroom if needed.
Although plane travel may increase your chances of getting and spreading COVID, the risk is said to be lower than contracting the virus from public transport, office buildings, and retail stores.
The riskiest time of air travel is actually when you’re down on the ground at the airport going through security, checking and picking up bags, and waiting in lounges or at gates. Wear your mask at all times in airports and always practice social distancing.
Check Entry Requirements and Travel Restrictions
Travel restrictions and entry requirements still seem to be constantly changing and may be updated even while you’re in the air en route to your chosen travel destination.
You will want to research whether you will be required to self-isolate in mandatory hotel quarantine upon arrival and for how long. You may be required to self-isolate in a government-authorized hotel at your expense which you have no control over.
If you are not required to self isolate, you may still be required to take a COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test and produce a negative result. You may be required to test negative for coronavirus before your flight, upon arrival, or both.
Keep in mind that you may also be required to produce a negative COVID test result before being able to get on a return flight back to your home country. Most airports are now carrying out health screenings and temperature checks to passengers and you may be forced to quarantine if you are showing symptoms despite returning a negative test result.
Be ready to provide detailed information regarding your travel plans with airport or customs officials. This information is used for contact tracing purposes and you may be required to disclose all the places you have been and plan to go within a set time period.
Some countries may also mandate that you download a mobile tracing app, and as vaccines roll out more and more you may be required to carry with you and show a COVID vaccine certificate that proves you have gotten the vaccine jab.
Choose Wisely When Selecting Your Travel Destination
Although international travel may take off again in 2021, it will still be important to choose wisely when selecting your travel destination. This applies not only to selecting a country, but also what places and attractions you visit as well as where you decide to stay and how you get around.
There are a number of countries that have been hit exceptionally hard by the pandemic, seeing very high infection rates and limited available hospital services.
We have all seen and heard the nightmares associated with cruise travel during the pandemic, and it may be wise to continue to avoid booking a cruise for some time or you may run the risk of having to self-isolate in your cabin or be stuck at sea with countries turning you away from ports.
The key is to select destinations with low population densities, as these are less likely to experience large virus outbreaks. Choose smaller towns over big cities and opt for renting a car if possible as opposed to relying on public transport.
Not only is renting a car safer in terms of limiting the spread of the virus, but many cities have now set limits on the number of passengers allowed on public transport which may hinder getting around.
You should also keep in mind that even safer destinations may have seen a lot of changes in terms of what businesses and services are operating so it pays to look into this.
Popular attractions and restaurants may have been forced to close and you don’t want to book a trip expecting certain experiences only to find they are not offered or not what you expected. For attractions that are available, understand that many have made it mandatory to pre-purchase tickets with specific time slots so as to control attendance and ensure social distancing more effectively.
Lastly, make sure you can get travel insurance for your chosen destination that covers COVID related issues. The last thing you want is to be stuck having to pay for overseas medical treatment which can be quite costly or being forced to self quarantine at your expense.
Some destinations and resorts are even offering free travel insurance that will cover various COVID issues to encourage you to book travel.
Check for Early Travel Deals
Desperate to revive tourism, many countries are offering big incentives to encourage travelers to book. Depending on the destination, you may be able to score highly discounted flights, free vouchers for local attractions, or waived tourist visa fees.
Some destinations are even offering to pay for your entire vacation if you happen to catch COVID while you’re visiting or will cover your medical expenses if you get infected while traveling.
Many local governments have also implemented various travel voucher schemes which can help you cover some of the costs associated with travel if you qualify. The vouchers are usually free but you will need to register and there may be a minimum spend and eligible travel period in which you can claim back money.
Not all countries are eager to welcome tourists back though. Some have actually banned international tourists or made it more expensive to visit through the implementation of a large mandatory travel deposit which may be used to pay for any medical tests or treatment you get while in their country.
And while flights may be quite a bit cheaper in the early post-COVID months, expect air travel to get quite expensive in the next few years as airlines try to recover their losses and get out of financial trouble.
This means you should book travel earlier when deals are available rather than later.
Make Health and Safety a Priority
It’s always a good idea to book a doctor’s appointment before booking any holiday to make sure you are fit for travel, but even more so during the pandemic.
Regardless of whether you are showing symptoms of COVID or not, it still is responsible to get checked in case you are asymptomatic so you don’t spread the virus unknowingly.
Be sure to pack several reusable masks, partly because they are mandatory in many places but also because they can help prevent you from catching COVID and other illnesses while traveling.
Carry hand sanitizer and use it after touching high traffic public surfaces and use disinfecting wipes to wipe down commonly touched items in your hotel room in case cleaners missed them.
Maintain social distancing and wash your hands regularly while traveling, especially before eating. Many places including airports, restaurants, and attractions have sanitation stations set up, so use them.
You should also try and avoid exchanging physical cash and opt for contactless credit card payment whenever possible.
Appreciate Travel More
We have all realized that travel is a privilege and not a right. We have seen how quickly travel can be taken away so it’s important to really appreciate the opportunities we do get to travel.
Learn to not over-plan your itinerary and instead try to live more in the moment. Slow down your travel and really take in a destination with all your senses.
Have patience with hospitality and travel industry workers as they have been through stressful times and are doing everything in their power to get you back to traveling again.
Learn to embrace and respect local cultures and give back to the places you visit. Now more than ever, it’s also time to support small businesses which are struggling to survive after the pandemic.
Many of us have also resorted to looking back at old travel photos to reminisce while we were stuck at home. A picture speaks a thousand words and can bring back all kinds of memorable travel memories, so learn how to take better travel pictures to really make those memories come alive.