It’s safe to say that no one would have predicted the current situation in the world with COVID-19, outside of a few epidemiologists and Steven Soderbergh (Contagion anyone?). The present situation feels a bit dire with millions of cases around the world and the loss of hundreds upon thousands of lives. What does this mean for travel?
In the past few decades, the travel industry has exploded. Times were excellent, and the travel industry has grown around the world to employ nearly 10% of the global workforce. Along with its massive economic impact, it has become a source of joy for millions more. That has now come to a halt.
The future of the industry remains to be seen, but we’re optimistic about a brighter future. A future of sustainable travel that relies on outdoor destinations, eco-friendly operators, and dispersal of travelers to new destinations.
For many, it’s still a little early to plan an international trip. However, it’s never too early to consider planning and many may still choose to visit a destination. With all of the uncertainty, travelers face new challenges. How to stay healthy? What are the new visitation rules? Will my travel insurance offer coverage during the pandemic? What’s a good destination to visit?
Where Can You Travel?
Travel restrictions are changing on a weekly, if not daily basis. A few destinations are open to all international visitors, but those are few and far between. Most are free for neighboring countries or their regional counterparts. At the same time, other countries have bans in place on individual visitors, such as US citizens. Americans have one of the weakest passports in the world.
There are many different laws and regulations in place, and they vary from country to country. Tahiti requires visitors to have RT-PCR three days before travel and then again four days after arrival in the country. Much of the European Union is closed to non-essentials visitors who are not citizens. Those that can enter the European Union may still be required to have a test three days before travel. The U.K. requires a 14 day quarantine period unless traveling from a “travel corridor,” which is a list of nations that have changed weekly.
Regulations and laws are always in flux, and it’s tough to determine what the future may hold. Try to plan trips if you do plan to travel in a short window. That way, you’re less likely to face changing regulations. Make sure to research the rules of the specific destination.
Check out this map from the International Air Transport Association that provides the specific travel regulations for countries. It’s worth noting that many of the travel restrictions have less to do with citizenship and more to do with the origins of the flight. That doesn’t mean short layovers will solve that problem, though!
Another helpful site has been Skyscanner, who is supplying all of the restrictions in a handy list based on your browser location. The last would be to check official government websites or tourism boards. Almost all have landing pages for the most up to date information.
Consider Local Travel
Not all travel involves hopping on a flight or traveling to another country. Consider a trip to explore your region. With fewer visitors, there are deals to be had with many tour operators and hotels who have lowered their rates.
Local travel comes with a slew of positives too, and it’s far more eco-friendly with a smaller carbon footprint. First, it’s a great way to support local businesses that have fewer patrons and visitors.
The Latest Case Counts
John Hopkins University manages a live case map that is interactive and provides reliable information. You can also find an interactive map from Google. A simple way is to search the country’s name and “COVID-19 case count.”
Health and Hygiene With Travel
It goes without saying you’re going to be exposed to strangers when you travel. If you’re flying or in proximity to others, it’s a good idea to practice good health and hygiene habits. Here are some tips to keep your health.
- Wash your hand frequently
- Refrain from touching your face
- Wear a mask
- Sanitize surfaces such as your seat and tray table on flights. Most important is your smartphone!
- Refrain from alcohol when flying
- Drink plenty of water
How To Prepare For Flights?
Flying looks a lot different these days and it will likely remain so the foreseeable future. Airport security has changed with new policies to encourage social distancing and reduce contact. It’s simple things like presenting the ID to security instead of handing the documents or I.D. to security personnel. Travelers are allowed to carry hand sanitizer in the bag up to 12 oz now.
Airlines require passengers to wear masks while onboard, although enforcement is inconsistent with no consequences. The boarding process has also changed to reduce interactions and aid in social distancing. Delays at the start of the pandemic were frequent due to the increased disinfecting and cleaning in between flights. With time this has gotten better.
There are a number of airlines that have blocked the middle seats on flights to further ensure physical distancing, but that is not all airlines. That being said most airlines are undersold.
Current Airline Policies
- British Airways
- American Airlines
- Air France
- Southwest Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Air Canada
What are Hotels, Hostels, and Airbnb Doing?
Many accommodation providers have implemented enhanced cleaning practices and that includes Airbnb thanks to local regulations. The major chains are open have implemented new procedures for check-in and room service. Here are some of the policies you can expect to find at hotels.
- Temperature checks on arrival
- Hand Sanitizer Stations
- Masks in common areas
- Regular cleaning of common areas
- Spaced seating for social distancing in common areas
- Contactless check-in
- Mini-bars removed
- Room cleaning on request
- Disinfected remotes, phones, and frequently used surfaces.
- Flexible booking policies
The policies vary from hotel chain to hotel chain. Our most recent stay was with Fairmont who did an exceptional job with the implementation of their policies and ensuring guest health.
Will Travel Insurance Cover Me?
Travel insurance providers are, for the most part, not offering any coverage of COVID-19 related medical charges. They do still provide regular coverage that can always offer some peace of mind. Several insurance companies have even stopped selling new policies. Here are a few tips to cover yourself.
- When you book a trip purchase insurance that provides the ability to cancel for any reason.
- We always advise that you make travel purchases on a travel credit card as many give increased protection and insurance.
- Check travel government travel advisories as it often affects insurance coverage.
- Double-check insurance policies before booking a trip
What If I Can’t Quarantine for Two Weeks?
If you have plans for any international trip, prepare for a two-week quarantine. Many countries are requiring a 14-day quarantine for citizens and foreign visitors with substantial legal implications on violators. Regulations on quarantine change daily, and it’s possible to end up in quarantine due to contact tracing. If you plan to travel internationally, you should prepare for the risk of self-isolation.
When Do You Recommend Booking?
Laws and regulations change quickly in regards to coronavirus — most of the time, without prior notice. If you plan to travel, it’s best to do so on short notice. Plan your trip within one to two weeks before departure. It would be best if you also prepared to have a COVID test within 72 hours of your departure. Many destinations require proof of a negative test, and it can aid in your ability to travel.
Should You Travel?
We do not recommend international travel quite yet unless you have a lot of flexibility and means. For now, domestic or regional travel is your best option. However, things do feel like they are improving or, at the least, that regulations and policies are more evident. The pandemic is one of the most uncertain times in the age of travel, and it will take time for some normalcy.