It’s been 20-months since I last set foot out of the United States, a fact I’m at once astounded and ashamed to admit given my prior history of living and working abroad, formulating my existence in hot pursuit of every new passport stamp I could acquire.
If you’re anything like me (which I assume you are as you’re reading a travel blog), this pandemic has amongst other more drastic hardships, completely upended your ability to travel. While we are nowhere out of the woods yet as the Delta variant continues to wreak havoc on communities around the world, access to vaccines, border re-openings and the end of summer make this current chapter a time when many are considering new travel plans.
Since the pandemic, travel has changed dramatically. It’s important to be mindful of this when preparing for a trip – both internationally and domestically, as so many travel patterns we used to take for granted may no longer hold relevance. With a little help from my friends at Sandals Resorts, let’s dive into 10 ways you can prepare for post-Covid travel. Your next adventure is waiting!
Research is Key
Gone are the days when you can hop on a plane at visit Machu Pichu on a three-day weekend via Colombia (a trip I have in fact done). As many borders remain closed and other countries require quarantines or proof of a negative Covid test, plan to thoroughly research the places you’re visiting and their entry requirements.
Will you have to quarantine when you get there or return home? If so, perhaps a different destination with less stringent restrictions is a better choice. Be sure you are aware and comfortable with the regulations set in place for your destination and are able to comply with any rules.
Have Your Documentation Ready
While documentation has always been important for travel, now it is even more so. If you are planning on traveling overseas, be sure that your passport is not up for renewal and keep in mind that many countries require your passport to be valid for up to a year. Also be sure to check with the embassy of the countries you are visiting about any new entry requirements and thoroughly review vaccination requirements. If proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test is required, have that documentation ready to share with the customs authorities when you arrive at your destination.
Get Onboard With Tech
In a post-pandemic world, smartphones are nearly impossible to live without. Many restaurants now require you to order via their “app” or view their menu through a QR code. Smartphones facilitate orderly crowd control and “ride reservations” at theme parks, and Uber and taxi companies now use them as dispatch and customer support. Digital airline tickets are commonplace, and your phone will directly deliver important information like your vaccine passport in the airport.
How do I travel like a pro? Put hygiene at the top of your list. Along with hand sanitizer bottles and wipes, it’s a good idea to have an extra mask or two. Do you know what kind of mask to wear when traveling and why it’s important? Be sure to check your airline or local health authority for guidelines on the types of masks recommended.
Opt for Insurance
The pandemic has changed the travel insurance market and made it more important than ever that you do actually have valid insurance while traveling. When looking for a policy, one thing to be aware of when looking for a policy is trip cancellation coverage, which can cover 100% if you need it due to the coronavirus or 75% for some other reason like an illness on your vacation overseas. You should also make sure that any unexpected medical expenses are taken care of in case something happens while traveling abroad, and don’t forget about emergency evacuation assistance just in case!
From canceled flights to changes in masking requirements, be prepared for the unexpected when you resume traveling. Change is the only constant thing in a post-pandemic world, and if there is one thing we have learned, it is the importance of being flexible! Plans can quickly be rerouted without our control. Have a backup plan and destination just in case your original plan falls through at the last minute and make sure flexible cancelations are offered for any flights, hotels or other large cost items you are booking.
Hire a Travel Agent
The benefits of hiring a travel agent are endless, especially in this confusing time of varying requirements and travel protocols. A travel agent can help you find the best deals, recommend amazing resorts and provide peace of mind with trip insurance, to name a few.
Ready for your dream vacation at a resort in Curacao? A travel agent can help you pull this off. Having a single point-of-contact at home will ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and you are covered should any hiccups occur during what can otherwise be a stressful time. This strategy may help you actually be able to relax on your vacation.
Don’t Discount Domestic Travel
Some people can’t wait to travel the world and explore new cultures after being fully vaccinated. Others may need a little more time before heading out on an exotic destination but last year taught us that there is plenty to explore closer to home. Consider booking a weekend getaway or a short road trip and exploring the attractions of a new-to-you domestic destination. Many museums are opening back up and offering terrific opportunities to visit without the crowds. Live music and small socially distanced festivals are coming to life in local parks and outdoor venues. Take a trip locally and support the small businesses that have been struggling the last year.
Be Patient (and Generous)
Businesses that have been closed for the better part of a year, especially in popular tourist spots, are gearing up for what could be their busiest season yet. Keep in mind these businesses face new challenges. So even if you have to wait longer for a table, service is slow, or maybe favorite menu items aren’t available, show some grace to the frontline staff on your trip- they are doing everything possible to keep it together and give you the best possible experience. And as always: Be kind and generous with them and tip well!
Slow Down and Enjoy
Slow down and enjoy your vacation! With the pandemic, (some of us) have learned the value in slowing down. Now is a great time to take a slower trip, perhaps centered around nature or other outdoor experiences. Practice connecting with where you’re visiting by embracing a slower pace and savoring the experience. After all, how many hours have we all spent lamenting over the loss of travel? When it comes time for your next trip let the beauty sink in and enjoy it as much as you can.