Exploring new destinations and immersing ourselves in fascinating new cultures are often the highlights of our year. As the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live and how we travel, though, you may be wondering if it’s currently safe to book a vacation.
With some careful planning and extra awareness, it’s completely possible to enjoy a getaway in the coming weeks and months. Whether you’re keen to discover indigenous traditions in Oceania, explore romantic cities in Europe or stick closer to home in North America, we’ve done additional research on the safest ways to travel.
Here are our expert travel safety tips for staying healthy on the go:
Know before you go…
The first question you’ll want to consider before planning any trip is “is it safe to travel right now?” The answer will very much depend on where you want to visit.
Some areas are much more high risk than others, meaning your chances of becoming infected and then spreading COVID-19 will be higher if you visit them. Remember many countries also have strict quarantining rules, especially if you’re entering them from the US.
Currently living in a high-risk area? You may want to hold off on your plans until the infection rate lowers or consider exploring somewhere closer to home instead. Similarly, if you or your fellow travelers have any health problems which could make you more susceptible to infection, it may be worth postponing your trip. Take a look at this interactive map from the U.S. Department of State for current advisories.
Nevertheless, for people living in low-risk areas who want to vacation somewhere that is also low-risk, it should be safe if you are careful and properly prepared.
Five Essential Travel Safety Tips
1Avoid direct contact with other travelers
You should keep at least six feet away from people who are not part of your household. We recommend planning your day to avoid crowds at popular destinations (which often means arriving early or later in the day).
2Wear a face mask when you’re in public spaces or on public transport
Remember that it should cover both your nose and mouth. Try to eat and drink before you get on the airplane or know that you’ll be in a crowded area. We recommend bringing multiple masks on a trip so you can always have one handy in each of your bags and pockets.
3Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizer
Especially after touching any communal surfaces. Bring sanitizing wipes with you to disinfect surfaces you will touch often (like the handle of your hotel room door).
4Stay away from people who are sick
Don’t travel if you’ve been in close contact with anyone who is ill or if you have any symptoms yourself. Many travel companies are offering new flexible booking options to encourage people to reschedule and stay home when they are sick.
5Give yourself extra time
This is particularly important at airports where you may have to queue for longer at security or when boarding. It also applies to trip planning: due to volume restrictions at many top attractions, you may have to reserve a spot far in advance of your trip. Working with a destination expert can help you ensure you’re not disappointed.
Travel Safety Tips for Road Trips
If you’d rather steer clear of public transport and have the freedom to change your itinerary if any rules change, a road trip is ideal. Nevertheless, exploring a country by car comes with its own set of safety tips.
Plan your route carefully – Road trips always require careful planning, but that’s especially true during a pandemic. Some places on your itinerary might be at risk of becoming high-risk areas; it’s a good idea to have a backup plan or alternative route if the situation changes.
Pack plenty of hand sanitizer and cleaning products – Staying sanitary on the road is simple if you are savvy with your packing. Remember to bring plenty of hand sanitizer, disposable wipes, and face masks as there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to purchase more during your journey.
Double-check your accommodation at each location – While more accommodation has opened up since the start of the pandemic, it is still worth contacting your hotel, B&B, or private rental the day before your stay to ensure it is open and accepting guests. If the answer is no, you’ll have enough time to rebook elsewhere. This is also where it helps to book your trip with a trusted travel company, so they can keep ahead of any issues and solve them without disrupting your fun.
Is it safe to travel right now by air?
While most airlines are working on reduced schedules, it is still possible to fly to most destinations around the globe.
If you’ve decided to catch a flight, there are a few things you should be wary of before you book. Firstly, remember to get travel insurance (if possible) in case your journey is canceled last minute. It’s also a good idea to regularly check that your chosen destination hasn’t changed their travel restrictions.
Staying safe during your flight and at the airport is simple if you wear a face mask, keep your distance from others, and follow any rules laid out by the local authorities. While many airlines are currently being deep cleaned before and after every flight, there is still a risk of exposure to the virus if other passengers are already carrying it.
If you’re nervous about sitting in close proximity to strangers during your flight, note that the following US airlines are currently blocking out middle seats to allow passengers to safely keep social distance:
Many global airlines have introduced rules on their flights too, from not serving food and drink onboard to operating at half capacity. The travel landscape is certainly different today than it was a year ago. However, with the right precautions and safety measures, you can still experience the joy of an adventure to somewhere magical.