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With the world shut down, people are beginning to ask how to travel after COVID. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected travel unlike any other event in history. Across the world, large jet liners sit empty on tarmacs. Passengers stay quarantined at home while workers are furloughed.
Five months into this unprecedented world event, we’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Countries that were once major hot spots are now seeing progress.
If you’ve had trips planned this Spring or Summer, chances are, they’ve been impacted in some way. For us, three years of saving and planning to attend the Olympics were drastically altered. For another trip, we planned to visit two of our best friends in Belize but it was canceled outright. These disappointments for us don’t even compare to what many others are experiencing.
Airlines have stopped operations for the near future, and some, like the Portuguese TAP Airlines, are in jeopardy of being taken over by their government. Cruises are docked through the summer and hotels have furloughed nearly all of their staff.
With airlines all but shut down at the moment, they will likely enter the skies again slowly. Most likely, airlines will begin flights at their major hubs. This is where the majority of their planes are being stored and demand will likely be the highest. As air travel demand becomes steady, more routes will begin to open. For passengers used to flying out of smaller airports, this might cause some inconveniences as choices will be limited.
So how do we start traveling once it is safe to do so?
The number one priority to take into consideration with future travel is your safety. Before you start packing your bags, make sure your health insurance will cover you during your trip. Many US insurance companies do not cover international travel, while some do, with restrictions. Check your policy and ensure you’ll be covered for all situations. If your policy won’t cover you overseas, there are medical travel insurance options.
The next priority when determining how to travel after COVID is flexibility. Does the hotel offer hassle free cancellation? Can you cancel your flight for a refund or a voucher? Right now, airlines are offering fee waivers like never before. Many airlines are even offering free cancellations. However, if your flight doesn’t offer free cancellations, there are travel insurance plans that offer “cancel for any reason” policies. But be aware that many travel insurance companies are not offering these policies at this time.
When choosing your flights, if possible, opt for nonstop itineraries. By limiting the number of airports you’ll visit, you reduce your exposure to other people. When you’re booking, most airlines are blocking middle seats to facilitate distancing between passengers. This is something to be aware of if you’re going to be travelling with small children as they won’t be next to you.
Before you leave on your trip, be sure it’s safe for you to do so. Talk to your physician about the medicines you’re on, possible immunizations recommended for your destination, and any concerns you have with travel.
Dr. Nabarun Dasgupta, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, says the pandemic will force consumers to factor health concerns into their travel choices even more than before. He recommends checking verified apps like Outbreaks Near Me to take proper precautions before traveling to a new destination.
During your trip, be sure to exercise proper hygiene to prevent the spread of germs. Keep disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer in your carry on. Be aware that TSA is allowing larger quantities of hand sanitizer in your carry ons. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth and try to keep a safe distance from others. Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue, and if you’re ill, stay home and get better. And make sure you wash your hands as frequently as possible.
Finally, check with your destination on what restrictions are in place during your visit. For instance, Disney World and Land have cancelled all Fast Pass and Disney Dining Plan reservations for the near future while they finalize their procedures. St. Lucia in the Caribbean is opening to visitors, however, there are a few requirements to travelling there. Visitors will need to present a certified, negative COVID-19 test at check-in that was taken within the past 48 hours. Once on the island, visitors will only be able to stay at certain hotels, have their temperature taken at every meal, and pretty much be restricted to their hotel as most outside attractions and restaurants are closed. Bottom line is to double check what requirements and restrictions are in place for your proposed travel destinations.
Someday soon, we will again find ourselves visiting our favorite destinations. With proper planning, we’ll be able to enjoy our vacations safely.