Packing a family suitcase, or going solo? Whatever be your plan, here is our guide to being mindful and merry for your vacation during COVID-19!
Successful vaccine trials and stories from friends have made people hopeful about traveling again. Some, you could say, are cautiously optimistic?
If you are bored at home and feel ready for your first vacation since March, look no further. We have compiled a handy guide on everything you need to consider when planning your next holiday during the pandemic.
Whether it is a workstation, a solo trip, a sporty adventure, or a romantic getaway, these thirteen tips should make planning smooth and hassle-free:
- Be flexible: Go into the planning mode with an open mind and enough foresight. You should book hotels, permits, and transport a few months in advance. State and international borders can announce new restrictions on travel, so stay vigilant about updates. You might have to tweak your plans according to new restrictions.
- Keep it short: A long vacation may not be a good idea, as it increases your risk of exposure. Research smaller getaways near your city and choose self-drives to have maximum control over your safety. Short weekend trips also help you judge your comfort level with the idea of traveling again.
- Plan outdoor trips: Ventilation, sunshine, and social distancing are now your new best friends. If you have always lounged around in hotels, now is the best time to try camping, national park safaris, stargazing lodges, and adventure activities. The increased fitness will keep you healthy and alert, and there is enough space for groups to spread out and have fun without passing on an infection.
For a more relaxed vibe, try standalone cottages or homestays in offbeat tourist areas. The fewer people you meet, the better. Avoid urban centers and tourism hotspots as much as you can.
- Try domestic tourism: Help local communities in your state bounce back with road trips to nearby places. Inter-state travel rules are changing often, so a bus or caravan trip to smaller towns, heritage sites, and wildlife zones is a great way to get to know your home state. Online bus booking is an easy, convenient, and contactless option for such holidays.
- Book using agents who offer refunds: Your trip might get stalled or canceled at the drop of a hat. As successful COVID-19 vaccines come out, flight, train, hotel, and bus booking rates are likely to rise, selling out top destinations. A refund will help overcome these hassles and put your mind at ease.
- Carry a ‘Corona Kit’: Along with your usual medicines, carry extra masks (no sharing!), a thermometer, cough syrup, tissues, disinfectant wipes and sprays, sealable bags to store soiled materials, and prescribed and OTC antiviral drugs.
- Keep a soft copy of all documents: You want to remove all unnecessary contact with the outside world. Keep a copy of essential documents like passports, Aadhaar cards, driving licenses, tickets, boarding passes, and permits on your phone, email address, and/or the cloud. This way, you don’t risk juggling or losing paperwork and reduce the risk of viral transmission via surfaces.
- Check state and city travel guidelines: Do this often, and do not forget to go over any quarantine, self-isolation, and group gathering rules. Governments and civic bodies update them regularly.
- Practice personal hygiene: The mantra of 2020 is to wash, sanitize, and avoid touching your face. Disinfect all souvenirs and packed food containers you might buy. Carry your own water, pack your own blankets for bus journeys, and avoid using public restrooms and water/food dispensers on flights and rest stops.
- Travel insurance: It us a wise idea to buy travel insurance this year. There is a high risk of losing money from canceled bookings or medical emergencies (especially if you have an underlying respiratory condition), no matter where you go.
Read the policy carefully to make sure it covers everything you might try: adventure activities, international travel, brand benefits, and so on. Plan to travel often for work? Get an annual package — you might get a good deal!
- Avoid large groups or at-risk travelers: Travel buddies make vacations more exciting, but anyone who is above 60 or has existing medical problems faces a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Such individuals should stay away from traveling until necessary.
If you don’t fit in this category, but have family and flatmates who do, make sure to self-isolate for their safety after returning from your holiday.
- Weigh the risks of all kinds of transport: The less time you spend in a closed, crowded space with other travelers, the better. Flights have a lower risk of passing on the virus due to HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters that efficiently filter out tiny particles. The forward-facing seating with a backrest as a barrier, and the compulsory wearing of face masks and shields, add another layer of protection.
Renting a sanitized car for you and your family could help you avoid public transport and keep everyone safe. Rentagile.com offers sanitized cars in almost all important cities in the world.
Trains, of course, cannot be monitored as closely. However, they have screenings, masks, and sanitization as a precaution. If possible, book whole cabins for your group, instead of settling for separate seats.
For bus journeys, ones with short durations, no shared linens, and a limit on passengers are best. Since ventilation and less talking is important, the ideal scenario is if you can self-drive rented cars, ride bikes or cycles, or try good ol’-fashioned walking.
- Respect hotel rules: What makes a stay relaxed and enjoyable right now are not freebies or an unlimited buffet. It is the knowledge that everyone is following the same rules for a common goal. Travelers should abide by all advisories and limits set by a property or travel provider for a smooth stay.
However, do not feel shy about making reasonable requests. If you feel your group is at a higher risk, ask for rooms that nobody will have stayed in for 1–2 days.
For global advice, make sure to follow the World Health Organization’s frequently-updated travel advice here.