The COVID-19 reshaped the way we travel. We used to ground our traveling behaviors on how Instagram-worthy the place is or cheap the hotel accommodation and travel expenses are. Today, we don’t just look at the photos and price tags – we now base our choices on how safe and healthy the destination is.
Let’s say the world reopens its doors and travelers can finally explore the great outdoors. How will you know if the place you’re going to is safe to visit? As a responsible traveler in the age of the pandemic, here are 8 questions you should ask first before embarking on your first post-COVID-19 travel.
1. Have the travel advisories/bans been lifted?
In the US, one of the major baselines for easing travel restrictions is when the state department finally lifts it’s level 4 travel advisory.
The same goes for other countries and their cities. If you’re planning to travel to a particular state or country, look at its state and local travel warnings. You should also stay up to date with its health department.
2. Are there any go signals from major health organizations?
According to an article published in USA Today, three things must happen before travelers can conclude that it’s safe to travel.
First, the state department must rescind its warnings. Second, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) needs to give the “all clear”. Lastly, the World Health Organization (WHO) has to give a go signal to travel.
3. Is the country successful in flattening the curve?
Look at the number of cases being tallied by WHO, showing each countries’ newly reported cases, deaths, as well as the number of days since the last reported case. See if the country you’re planning to visit is successful in reducing the number of cases. You should also look into how accessible and reliable their healthcare facilities are.
4. Do they have aggressive testing?
Don’t rely on numbers alone – just because a particular country is not reporting cases doesn’t mean they’re safe to visit.
Some countries, states, and cities handled the pandemic better than others. For instance, several nations are ramping up access to testing, making it possible to calculate the actual infection rate more accurately and predict future spread rates.
5. How were the preventative measures implemented?
Some countries are also praised for their impressive contract tracing, temperature checks, mandatory 14-day quarantine, and social distancing protocols to contain the spread.
Research on the country you’re planning to visit and see if their preventive measures can give you the confidence to travel.
6. Are the schools and businesses open?
When face-to-face classes resume and restaurants can accommodate customers dining in, these are clear indicators that things are returning to normal. That said, travel will be safe again.
7. Can you finally buy travel insurance?
Many travel insurance providers stopped selling insurance products after the outbreak. Others even added new restrictions. So when a travel insurance company resumes selling policies, it’s another indicator that it’s safe to travel.
8. How does the travel industry handle the pandemic?
Next to looking at the response of the local government and health agencies, it’s also imperative to see how the airlines and hotels are ensuring the safety of the travelers.
Before picking the cheapest hotel accommodation and airfares, research on how they handled COVID-19 during and after the pandemic.
- Do they observe health and safety protocols, including sanitized arrivals, safe distancing, and personal protective equipment for the staff?
- Do they have aggressive temperature checks, contact tracing, contactless procedures, and disinfecting measures?
- Do they have flexible cancellation policies?
- As for the airlines, do they implement zone boarding?
- Have they blocked the middle seats to accommodate fewer passengers on board?
While it’s still uncertain when we’re going to get our normal lives back, one thing’s for sure: we will travel again. But for now, while it’s possible, it’s not recommended. The best thing we can do is to adapt this so-called “new normal”, including the ways the pandemic changed the travel industry.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is one of the seasoned writers for Holiday Inn Parramatta Hotel, a modern hotel located in the heart of Western Sydney, delivering top-class Parramatta accommodation. She has always been passionate about traveling, taking photos, and writing travel tips and tricks.