With further surges of coronavirus, most of the world remains in lockdown and travel restrictions have returned. The situation may seem dire but a holiday or time abroad may not be as far away as you think.
The UK government, after having recently implemented their strictest lockdown in months, aims to get the majority of the population vaccinated by autumn and the most vulnerable even sooner. Meanwhile, the US seems to be on a similar trajectory. Europe and the rest of the world will likely follow suit.
The question on everyone’s lips is, is it safe to travel? Not currently according to the scientists but when lockdown eases and case numbers drop, we’d say travelling abroad will be as safe as a dine out dinner for two – given you take precautions and follow our tips. An accelerated rollout of vaccines may possibly get travel numbers to somewhere close to pre-Covid levels.
Before the masses are vaccinated however, cash-strapped airlines need people to return to the dizzying heights of 35,000 feet. Meanwhile, tourism focused economies demand attention.
Therefore, we’ve selected our best tips for when you are able to travel again.
Consider domestic travel
Until vaccines become widely available or the current wave subsides, travelling within our own countries or regions seems to be the safest option.
Road trips allow you to explore your domestic landscape and avoid busy airports and differing levels of restrictions when abroad.
A recent survey from vacation rental platform VRBO discovered that 59% of American families said they are would prefer to drive rather than fly on their next trip. So for now, the staycation trend continues. Check out a list of our top staycations in the USA.
To feel more comfortable in a rental car, wipe down common touch points such as the steering wheel, door handles, radio buttons, and window controls. Most rental companies have implemented rigorous sanitization measures but this extra step will help put your mind at ease.
We often forget there are some amazing destinations on our own doorstep or back yard so early 2021 may be the perfect time to tick off a few items on that domestic bucket list.
Research your destination
With travel restrictions and other mitigation measures being imposed on both a national and local level, it is vital that you do extensive research on the city or region you are travelling to.
Local restrictions are often introduced on short notice to limit the spread of infection so it is advantageous to check official channels before and during your stay to ensure you can travel between regions.
The rapid and wide-ranging enforcement of travel bans from the UK and South Africa in response to their respective coronavirus variants shows just how quickly things can change.
Before booking flights, research the latest Covid-19 numbers of the area you’re travelling to and for any stops you plan to make along the way.
Pay Attention to Hygiene Protocols and Ratings
To inspire confidence, most airlines and hotels are happy to boast about the additional hygiene measures implemented to help combat Covid-19.
When researching flights or hotels on services such as Skyscanner, be sure to take note of the hygiene rating of each option that suits your requirements. You can then whittle down your selection to the flights and hotels with the best practices. For those in a hurry, a wide selection of aggregator sites will even allow you to filter by hygiene rating and allow you to make a quick and confident selection.
While all of us have differing opinions or attitudes towards the pandemic, most will agree that knowing a hotel room has been steam cleaned between each guest is a surefire booking confidence booster.
Play Your Part
With the travel and tourism industries doing everything they possibly can to contain the spread, we as passengers and guests must do the same.
While most US airlines have now stopped blocking middle seats for selection, Delta will continue to do so until March 30, 2021. All but guaranteeing at least some social distancing on board.
JetBlue customers can guarantee an empty seat next to them by booking it for the same price as the one they are sitting in. Extra cautious passengers can even block out entire rows by purchasing the seats in advance.
Other airlines are encouraging physical distancing while boarding and at the gate, while others are offering customers booked on full flights the opportunity to change to another free of charge.
EasyJet’s new cabin bag policy means fewer customers will be bringing bags on board, ultimately resulting in a reduced number of passenger jams and less crowding by those retrieving items from overhead lockers.
With these policies promoting physical distancing on board, we have a duty to play our part and respect others space. Ensure to socially distance while queuing for the bathroom for example.
Want to stay clear of queues at the baggage carousel? You can avoid it altogether by shipping your luggage ahead.
You should also wear a face mask for the duration of the flight, except for when you’re enjoying a beverage or on board meal.
The World Health Organisation advises travellers to wear a mask whenever they are around others, such as when flying or walking through an airport.
You can also do your part by ensuring you pack appropriate hygiene items for both your journey and your stay. Apart from a face covering this includes antibacterial wipes, a digital thermometer and hand sanitizer. Check out a full list of recommended items to pack for travel during coronavirus.
Smarten Your Mask Game
Following on from above, we advise you to pack plenty of comfortable face coverings for your next vacation. While many airlines will provide you with a mask onboard, there are a small number that will not have this facility or will have limited supply.
It’s important your mask fits comfortably and well with the WHO stating coverings should fit snugly around the nose and chin and be breathable with two to three layers of tightly-woven fabric.
Once masks dampen, they should not be used.
Remember requirements will differ depending on the location you’re travelling to. Be sure to read the local guidance and even if a destination has a more relaxed policy, it may be a good idea to mask up regardless.
Look for Private Accommodation
Doctors believe private accommodation is the way forward for safe travel with Dr. Thomas Russo of the infection disease division at the University of Buffalo stating, “Anything you can do to decrease your encounters with other individuals will be safer.”
Airbnb and other services allow you to book unique and luxurious hideouts without even having to encounter the host. Check in/out is completed online and keys to properties are often found in lockboxes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees that the risk associated with private lodging at a cabin for example is less than a hotel stay given the fewer amount of individuals encountered.
It is important to keep in mind however, that this is only true if you book a property with members of your immediate household or support bubble. Mixing with other family or friends will increase the risk significantly.
Again, wiping down common touch points such as light switches or doorknobs will provide peace of mind. Though it should be noted that Airbnb has enforced strict hygiene standards that hosts must follow to continue operating.
Take advantage of refundable and flexible options
With so much uncertainty around travel, airlines, hotels, and booking sites have never had such flexible options.
The likes of Expedia are offering and encouraging customers to book refundable options for hotels. While many also allow you to filter your property search by cancellation policy.
Flight bookings too are historically flexible. British Airways have waived change fees for any new journeys booked for before 31 August 2021, allowing you to change both the date of your flight and destination.
Most airlines are offering similar options but be sure to check official websites regularly for latest updates; particularly in light of the latest lockdowns.
Given the unpredictability of the current situation, advance planning and booking is almost rendered redundant with restrictions changing daily. With this in mind, last-minute trips are advised. There should be plenty of availability with both flights and accommodation.
Are you ready to start travelling again? Inform us of any other tips you might have on our Facebook or Instagram pages.
Other relevant blogs:
Bucket List Travel for 2021
2021’s Best Sustainable Travel Destinations
The Top Travel Trends for 2021