Summer is here. And for the first time in a long time, travel is becoming a real possibility. I just traveled with the family and felt compelled to come up with some talking points.
The pandemic hasn’t disappeared but we’re turning a corner. More people are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 every day, and even more people have a ready-to-travel mindset.
After months of doing everything from home, we’re ready to get out — and really get away! About 2 in 3 folks say they have a trip planned within the next 3 months.
Most are looking to get out of state or go abroad. That’s more than pre-COVID. And TSA airport screenings are up as well.
As excited as we are to get out of our COVID-19 caves, we’re also anxious. We’re worried about getting sick or stuck in our destination. And we fear the unknown.
These worries are valid. But we can manage our stress about traveling by taking action. The right planning can help us manage our anxiety and prepare for the changes that will come with post-pandemic travel.
So, if you’re just starting to think about getting out or you’ve already booked a trip, here are some of the most important things to consider so you can make smart, safe choices and still have a great time.
How far do you want to do and how will you get there? Will you need to quarantine before or after your trip? What are the chances you will have to stay longer than expected?
Think about these possibilities. Also, consider the impact your visit can potentially have on the place you visit. Could your tourism dollars do more good in areas that were harder hit during the pandemic?
This refers to how at-risk your travel partners, or the ones you are visiting, are. Does anyone need a COVID test before traveling? Should you think twice about seeing someone who might have existing health circumstances?
Also, what do your travel companions need in order to stay healthy and safe during the trip? Hand sanitizers, masks, and other protective equipment should be accounted for. Are you going to bring your pet, or need to make accommodations for them locally?
It may be even necessary to check in with your doctor as you plan a trip. Do they agree it’s OK to travel given any present medical conditions? Do you have enough medication to last the trip (and potentially longer)? It would also be prudent to read up on the health care options and facilities at your destination, in case anyone does need medical attention during the trip.
The biggie here is making sure you have proof of a negative COVID test (or vaccination) whether it’s to reach or destination or returning back home.
Also, some countries may not accept U.S. driver’s licenses. So if you plan to drive abroad, determine whether the destination recognizes U.S. licenses, or if you need to obtain an international driving permit.
A helpful tip: make copies and take pictures of all your travel documents. Store the backups in a safe place, and even upload to your cloud storage so you can access them remotely.
Personal Risk Tolerance
At the end of the day, you will need to determine how much risk you want to take on during your getaway. Are you going to be OK in a high-rise hotel, with shared elevators and potentially crowded spaces? Or will you want more private and remote accommodations and avoid crowds?
Beyond where you will sleep, your mode of transportation and your excursions can bring risks too. Think about this upfront and plan according to what makes you most safe and comfortable. And if you don’t want to eat out for every meal, plan to stay in a place with its own kitchenette.
Things may not go as expected. So, what’s Plan B? Or Plan C? I don’t want to preach over-thinking things, but in times like these, it would make sense to get in front of it.
You may even want to travel somewhere that you have family or friends nearby. Reason: what if there is another lockdown!? Similarly, maybe you’d rather be in a remote area and be secluded from any shut downs. The bottom line is having a plan in case things go off the rails.
I’d even recommend travel insurance, so you are covered if a medical situation or cancellation arises. Lastly, enroll in this free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so you get the latest safety and security information from your destination.
You can’t totally avoid risks in traveling or in life, but you can manage them better with thoughtful planning.
Traveling can be a wonderful, deeply enriching experience. It’s an exciting way to recharge, enjoy the world, and open up to new perspectives. My family really needed it after not traveling much for the past 18 months.
It also takes us out of our element. By nature, traveling puts us in unfamiliar places. There’s always going to be some level of uncertainty when you take a trip, because there’s no way to be 100% sure that everything will go as planned.
Despite the new risks in post-pandemic travel, it’s not the first time many of us have had to deal with more travel anxiety as a result of current events. If you flew after 9/11, you saw firsthand how tense airports became and how much changed.
Still, we found ways to cope and overcome. We made new plans and adapted to new travel screenings and restrictions. And some of the changes we made became our “new normal” for traveling. We’ve been taking our shoes off for TSA airport screenings for about 20 years now because of a single incident in December 2001.
You can’t totally avoid risks in traveling or in life, but you can manage them better with thoughtful planning. And the unexpected things can affect your entire experience.
The parallels are similar to financial planning. Although there’s a lot you can’t predict, you do have total control over your decisions. You can make more informed choices about where to go, be better prepared, and control how much risk you’ll take on.
So it doesn’t just apply to post-pandemic traveling. It can help you be better at facing many other uncertainties life throws your way.