It is inevitable the current pandemic will have a serious and long-lasting impact on the travel industry. Whether you’re traveling for a vacation or a business meeting, things will be different. So, how can you travel safely and effectively after the pandemic is over?
Different countries will recover from the COVID-19 outbreak at different times and reduce their restrictions in different ways. However, it’s not a good idea to assume that a country is completely safe because it has opened its borders and tourist attractions.
Before booking your flight, check the U.S. Department of State website, or your own country’s foreign office, for any travel advisories. Then, do your research. Find out what may have changed at your destination and how that will affect your stay.
The first countries that reopen will probably see a large influx of visitors. Businesspeople who have put off important matters for months will be forced to visit. Tourists who not only missed out on their planned summer vacation but also suffered through lockdown will have the time and money to go. A whole year’s worth of visitors will be squeezed into a few months.
While flying, taking the train or bus, and inside travel hubs and crowded places, you should wear a protective mask. Many surgical masks are only designed to protect patients and not the wearer, so ensure your mask is one that protects you, such as an N95 mask.
In the past, your first choice for fun may have been water parks and theme parks. For now, consider activities you and your family can enjoy while keeping your distance from others. Outdoor pursuits, such as hiking, snowshoeing, cycling, kayaking, and camping, will enable you to enjoy the great outdoors without coming too close to strangers.
While camping, simple convenience devices such as a power station connected to a solar panel will enable you to pitch your tent away from the crowds. If you don’t need to use local power outlets too often, you minimise contact with others and can camp in more remote locations. This, of course, similarly applies to RVing. And when touring a historic city, opt for cycling tours, Segway tours, and kayaking tours so that you’re not spending a lot of time in crowds and close to other members of your tour group.
It is likely the lockdown will force many businesses into bankruptcy. This means that some hotels, restaurants, and even tourist attractions will be permanently closed. On the other hand, new owners may have taken over abandoned properties.
Printed travel handbooks and travel websites that have not been recently updated will be hopelessly inaccurate. When doing your research, ensure you use sites that show up-to-date information preferably collated by local expert guides. This will save you a lot of time when you arrive to discover that the businesses you planned to visit no longer exist.
Even when hotels and other travel-related businesses have weathered the storm, they will likely be changed. Members of staff who left during the crisis when the business was closed may not return. Long-standing suppliers of essential products may have gone into liquidation. Supply chains will have been disrupted.
For this reason, the travel businesses you use will be different from how they were in the past. Their staff may now be inexperienced and incompetent. On the other hand, they may have taken on new staff who are better at performing their roles. The point is that any reviews left on TripAdvisor or Google are now obsolete. You cannot trust any review written before the lockdown. When deciding where to sleep, where to eat, and what to do, only consider reviews written after the lifting of restrictions or advice from local expert guides.
Because there will be a reduced number of travel businesses and hotels at the same time as a surge in visitors, everything will become fully booked well in advance. Ensure you book all aspects of your journey as soon as possible.
Initially, flights may be limited. Research available flights on comparison websites like Omio or Kayak. Accommodations will also be in demand, so ensure you book ahead to get the room you want rather than staying in a shared room in a hostel in a ghetto that costs more than a hotel room would normally.
Tours are likely to be fully booked weeks or even months in advance. Decide what you want as early as you can and book before you travel. Ensure the tourist attractions you yearn to visit are even open before making big plans.
With so many people losing their job during the lockdown, there will be a lot of desperate people in the world. Career thieves have lost their main source of income for several months and will be more aggressive in their attempts to make up for lost opportunities. Expect an increase in petty crime. There will be more pickpockets, muggers, con-artists, and beggars than before the COVID-19 outbreak.
Pack hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to protect yourself and your family. Also, take along your own towels and toiletries rather than relying on those supplied by the hotel. You might even consider taking your own pillow covers.
When visiting attractions, prepare a packed lunch rather than eating at the food outlets there. The food you’ve prepared yourself is less risky. During tours where equipment is supplied, use your antibacterial wipes to clean surfaces you must touch. Instead of using goggles, masks, and snorkels supplied, take your own.
Cash is known to spread disease, so use bank cards instead of cash to pay for goods and services. If your bank can issue you with a contactless bank card, that’s even better. Consider whether you should use other contactless payment systems, such as Apple Pay.
If there is anything vital to your health or the enjoyment of your vacation, consider if it is possible to buy it at home and take it with you. Because of the disruption of supply chains, it is possible you will not be able to purchase some items at your destination that are usually available.
So, for example, if you are allergic to peanuts and often carry an EpiPen, don’t rely on being able to purchase one on vacation. Similarly, if you must use a specific shampoo brand, don’t just assume that it will be available in the place you’re visiting.
Travel safely and responsibly!