COVID-19 has hit the travel industry HARD. I remember back in March being in India with my travel group, wondering if we would be able to continue our travel journey or if it will be cut short. Luckily for us, we made it home just in time before borders were closed. But now we are all stuck at home waiting for the world to get better in hopes of one day being able to travel again. Luckily, that day seems to be slowly but surely heading our way.
With all of the throwback travel pictures flooding social media and the fantastic super low priced flight deals popping up everywhere, the temptation to get back out in the world is on a high. With peaked interest for normalcy and lowered COVID-19 cases, the world is beginning to respond and opening back up. And I, for one, am ready to take advantage and get back to travel. But, before you purchase that flight or start planning that trip, I wanted to share with you five tips to prepare you for travel post-COVID-19.
Check if the country border is open and tourism is available.
Everybody is pretty much in the same boat. Borders are closed, and we're forced to stay home as we try to get a handle on it. Some countries are having better luck than others, but that doesn't mean they want you running over to them. Airlines are not monitoring which countries' borders are open and closed so you can purchase a flight and won't be able to enter that country.
At the moment, there are a few countries whose borders are open and a few more considering it within the next month or two. Be sure to check the ones that are open to see if there are any regulations or requirements upon arrival. Though their borders are open, they might only allow citizens, medical assistance, and diplomats.
Country border open... check, but is tourism available? Not everyone joins tours, but museums, attractions, and activities all fall under tourism. Even restaurants and hotels are limited. Before you spend money to visit a new country, check to see what state they're in. You might be flying to a country to do the same thing you're doing at home. Nothing. Unless you're visiting family or a citizen of the visiting country, it would be pointless to visit.
Entry requirements may change or testing required.
As countries slowly open, requirements for entry may change. Currently, some borders that have remained open or are now accessible are regulating who can enter. They can also demand a 14-day quarantine to enter, mandatory testing, or proof of negative test or medical clearance. If you are looking for a one week vacation and go to a country that requires a 14-day quarantine for entry, you'll be wasting your time and stuck.
Borders are slowly opening, and though that makes you want to jump ship and head somewhere new, facing new requirements to entry will slow if not halt your plans abroad. For example, while we were in India, they required additional forms and temperature checks upon entry. Though no country has said yet, I wouldn't be surprised if they ordered any testing, new forms, or proof of negative testing to enter.
Be prepared to pay extra.
Right now, flight deals are everywhere, but as borders open, pricing is projected to rise. Currently, most airlines are flying around 5% of their fleet, and even if they're flying, they can't guarantee a flight because if there isn't enough interest in the flight, they will cancel it. That means even when borders start opening up, they won't increase flights unless there's a demand. We must also take into consideration new precautions set to keep all safe. Wearing a mask, limiting the size of carryon, spacing out passengers. These changes, along with the loss collected during the COVID-19 outbreak, will definitely lead to many airlines increasing flight prices and making stricter guidelines to recoup some of their losses.
Protect yourself by purchasing insurance.
I think the COVID-19 outbreak has taught travelers many valuable lessons, and the primary teaching is to protect your travel investment. Whether it's choosing not to purchase through a third party agency like "bookit.com" or protect your money with insurance or payment protection plans, many have felt the burn and learned from their mistakes. Since we have no way of predicting the future, we must take all necessary precautions.
As everyone adapts to this new normal, so has the travel insurance industry and their protection plans. Though new plans are available, be sure to read the fine print and select the best option for you. Also, it doesn't hurt to pay extra for those all in one protection plan or cancel for any reason plan since no matter the reason, and you can cancel and get the majority of your money back. These plans can come in handy if history decides to repeat itself sooner than later or if things happen.
Partner with a travel expert or join a group.
What kind of travel consultant would I be if I didn't offer my help? Partnering with someone such as myself takes away the guesswork and the hunt to get your questions answered. I receive daily information regarding all things travel, so I'm always in the loop not only for my clients but for myself. With my access, I can assist you with your travel plans and remove the pains of booking an unavailable trip. Another option is joining a group trip. This way, you're not traveling alone, and the experience is curated by a travel professional. Leave your worries, pack a bag, and enjoy yourself!
ADVICE: I never what to deter anyone from travel, but I want people to be realistic with their expectations and be smart. If you're anything like me, I'm sure your hands are itching to purchase those flight deals. If you choose to buy flights, I suggest booking later in the year into 2021 and to purchase directly from the airline. Be sure to check the airline's refund policy to make sure if COVID-19 makes another appearance, you'll get a credit or refund.
Stay healthy, be safe, and be smart.