For travel lovers, 2020 has been a tough year. It is fair to say that 2021 hasn’t started on a positive note, especially for countries such as the UK and Germany, where the population has gone back into lockdown. Germany is due to review lockdown restrictions by February 14. Yet, for the UK, there is currently no indication that the country will go back to normal any time soon. Lockdown is expected to last at least until April 2021, and some experts recommend maintaining strict restrictions until September. So, if you are wondering when it is safe to travel again, the answer is: Not yet.
However, vaccine roll-outs are likely to bring positive results. As infection rates drop around the world, borders will reopen to travellers. Currently, some countries have explicitly banned some travellers from high risk regions to enter the territory for non-essential purposes. Professionals that are required to travel for work are exempt within reason (and with extensively documented justification). We can expect that the situation will evolve in the future months, as the combined global effort to flatten the curve display significant signs of success.
Yet, the reopening of borders is not without risks. Reducing covid transmission rate is not quite the same as getting rid of the virus. Therefore, we will need to remain vigilant during our future trips.
Head to areas with better crisis management
If you’re getting itchy feet, it’s fair to say that you’re probably looking forward to planning your next trip as soon as the borders reopen for international travel. The global pandemic has shown different crisis management strategies across the world. Some countries have sustained dramatic losses, such as the UK and the USA. Others, on the other hand, have managed to keep the crisis under control. Taiwan, for instance, is one of those countries that have been dealing with the virus effectively. Taiwan rapidly established a response strategy, even before COVID-19 registered as a global crisis. They deployed a containment strategy to reduce outbreaks and keep their population safe. Countries such as New Zealdn, Iceland, Vietnam and Singapore have demonstrated similar initiative in tackling the crisis. These would be excellent destinations for a safe first trip in a post-pandemic world!
Consider non-crowded accommodation
COVID-19 is an airborne virus. Consequently, places such as hotels are likely to increase risks of exposure for travellers. While this doesn’t mean that hotels aren’t taking the coronavirus seriously (they are), we have to be realistic. Hotels are unable to check every single visitor. Someone who is an asymptomatic traveller could infect other guests, even in a sanitized environment. On the other hand, accommodation solutions that reduce exposure to crowds could be a safer choice on your first trip. An apart hotel booking or a holiday home rental can keep risks to a low level. Most renta organisations also provide full sanitising cleaning services before welcoming new guests. Alternatively, remote camping parks are also a safe alternative. Ideally, remote locations require travellers to bring their own camping tents to prevent contamination. Yet, you can enjoy breathtaking sceneries away from crowds. Remote camping parks are also more likely to control the number of guests and the access to public areas. With scheduled access to bathrooms and cooking areas, it’s easy to keep travellers safe.
Keep your travel documentation up-to-date
The debate is currently open about vaccine passports. Some governments see it as a safety approach while others fear it’ll be discriminatory. In the near future, however, we can all expect that border controls will include some sort of covid checks procedure. Whether you receive documentation that shows you’ve been vaccinated (the vaccine passport) or whether you need to provide recent covid tests that prove you’re not a carrier for the virus, it is unclear what each country will decide. Denmark has been supporting a digital passport system with vaccination stamps for its citizens. President Biden is still uncertain about the feasibility of such a solution for the US population. Even air transport organisations are looking into the possibility of a digital travel pass for covid safety. So, regardless of what the UK’s government decides, we may not have a choice about digital vaccine passports to visit international destinations in the future.
Respect hygiene rules
It makes sense to stick to the hygiene best practice rules we’ve rediscovered during covid. Washing your hands frequently after touching foreign surfaces is a no-brainer. Similarly, we can expect to be wearing face masks in public transport for a long time. For our protection, we should be wearing better face masks with high filtration rates. Our best options are N95, KF94, and KN95 face masks or respirators. Some countries are likely to maintain masks for the coming months (or even years) despite a vaccine roll-out. In other words, better safe than sorry!
Consider travel insurance
One of the most significant pain points for travellers is the cost of travel. While everybody wants to stay safe, nobody welcomes travel cancellations. We need to prepare for eventual cancellations and changes of plan even when borders reopen. As such, if you are planning a trip abroad, you brand to research the best pandemic travel insurance plans. Is there such a thing? Some insurance covers are now including cancellation reimbursement for pandemic reasons. For existing insurance plans, you may need to pay extra for a covid clause. It’s also a good idea to consider travel medical insurance and emergency transportation cover, if you don’t want to be left out of pocket.
Don’t rush booking
Travel agencies and tourism have been facing challenges to survive in the midst of the pandemic. Many are working hard to offer organised trips as soon as international travel restrictions are lifted. Understandably, it could be tempting to grab a bargain for your next holiday. However, don’t rush to book your next trip just now. As a rule of thumb, you want to keep an eye on the evolution of the international covid map to spot signs of risks and infections. Typically, countries that suddenly shut their borders will show alarming signs of covid increase in the preceding weeks.
Are you ready to travel again as soon as the borders reopen? Don’t let your itchy feet rush your decisions. Borders are likely to reopen as soon as covid infection rate drop at a manageable level. Yet, it will not mean that risks don’t exist anymore. Whether health or financial risks, you want to protect yourself when booking your first post-pandemic holiday.