As the vaccine rolls out, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Many people hope to return to travel later in 2021 and some are taking trips right now.
But despite the slow return to vacationing and the introduction of the vaccine, COVID is still rampant and should be taken seriously - especially when traveling.
If you do decide to take a trip this year, follow these tips to avoid extra fees, be prepared and above all keep yourself & others safe.
1. Research all the COVID rules and regulations to where you’re traveling to and for when you return.
Everywhere varies on their regulations, curfews, required testing, etc. so do your research to be on top of everything that’s required for planning purposes. Make sure to look up the rules for your destination and also your hometown/country upon return. Currently if traveling internationally, the U.S. is requiring testing before returning home. Read more here.
2. Evaluate how your travels will affect the locals.
Before planning a trip somewhere, evaluate the location and community's situation. For example, if they actively do not want tourists, are low on resources or cases are rising, it would be wise to reavaluate your trip.
Some places have strict COVID precautions and are begging for tourists to return, while others are not. Be a responsible traveler and take the time to reflect on the local's best interest. Remember while you may be a tourist, wherever you go is someone's home.
3. Plan to take all the necessary precautions.
Once you’ve done your research, make plans accordingly. Schedule your COVID test before leaving (even if a place doesn’t require this, it should be a courtesy), and plan to quarantine or get tested when you return home.
4. Get travel insurance.
Even before COVID, I was a huge advocate for travel insurance. Plans change, things get lost, and travel always involves the unexpected. Now with these unprecedented times it’s even more important.
My favorite insurance that I’ve always used is World Nomads Travel Insurance. They are affordable and cover quite a lot including right now covering some travel fees if you cancel your trip due to yourself or a family member getting COVID-19. Read more about their coronavirus FAQ’s here.
5. Try to book flexible reservations.
While travel insurance may cover many cancellations, it’s also much easier to change plans unexpectedly if you’ve booked flexible reservations. When booking accomodation and tours, check for cancellation fees and if flying, make sure to go with an airline that doesn’t charge to change your flight. Many airlines, started offering this flexibility since 2020, but definitely double check.
6. Plan your itinerary with minimal contact to others.
This might mean driving instead of flying, planning outside activities away from others, staying in private/remote accommodation, planning to cook instead of constantly eating out, etc.
7. Book transportation and accommodation with companies that are following strict COVID guidelines.
On airline and hotel websites you can read about the COVID guidelines set into place. Note that many budget airlines may be cleaning, but they are not separating passengers by seating.
Likewise most hotels and Airbnbs are cleaning, but some take it a step further and have a whole day or two in between guests. If you’re unsure from their website, give them a call.
8. Pack plenty of masks & sanitizing products.
Throughout your trip you should be wearing a mask and keeping yourself clean. To ensure this, come prepared with everything you need packed. I suggest reusable masks, hand sanitizer, wipes (especially for the airplane), and maybe even a face shield.
9. Have a plan B and an adaptable & patient mindset.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic it’s that we are not in control. No matter how much planning you do, things might change. So have a plan B ready with what to do if your trip is cancelled (travel insurance and flexible bookings will help here) and be ready for the unexpected.