With COVID-19 restrictions and regulations easing, traveling seems more and more attractive to many Americans. After being cooped up for nearly two years, many may feel the itch to get out and explore.
Traveling is undeniably different post-pandemic, and a new set of expectations, behavior and precautions are here. Pack your bags and plan wisely with these post-pandemic travel tips.
Know your location
Whether you are traveling nationally or internationally, it is important to research what to expect. Some areas have mask mandates, and some areas are much different than before the pandemic. Certain regions may require full vaccinations or proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Make calls and do adequate research, so you are fully prepared and safe to travel to your location.
Pick your travel method-and stick to it
Air travel has especially changed since the beginning of the pandemic. Most popular commercial airlines require face coverings, and airports often promote social distancing as well as masking up. If you choose air travel, know that it will require extra attention and safety. With many people coming from different areas, airports are especially difficult to navigate with a COVID-19 lens. Be sure to understand your part in keeping other travelers and yourself safe.
“Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance (like on open deck areas of a ferry or the uncovered top deck of a bus),” reports the CDC.
Everyone needs a place to stay, and most of us would prefer to be comfortable in travel accommodations. Hotels, rental homes and campsites have different safety measures than each other. The hospitality industry has been recovering from a long downtrend over the past year and a half, so knowing what to expect in this new era is important.
“In May, U.S. hotels hit average daily occupancy rates of 59.3 percent, their highest since February of 2020, right before the pandemic hit. Revenue per available room, at $69.81, was also a milestone,” reports Hotel Management.
When booking a reservation, ask what you should expect upon arrival. Do you need a mask in public areas? What are the precautions regarding cleaning services and in-room amenities? Does the area have any particular attitudes toward public health that I should be aware of?
Individuals who work in the hospitality industry are often knowledgeable about travel in their areas. Do not be afraid to use them as a resource in your travel prep.
To eat out or to stay in
The restaurant industry struggled during the pandemic. Tourism and the resurgence of travel are incredibly important in their stability. But supporting restaurants may come with slightly different systems.
A survey conducted by the Morning Consult provides weekly updates on the comfort level of roughly 2,200 participants on dining out. On Oct. 2, the site reported that 65 percent of participants said they felt comfortable dining out.
Knowing your own comfort level with eating out will determine how you support the industry. Feel free to call restaurants you want to go to and ask if they require masks when not eating, if they have outdoor seating, if you can request certain sanitary practices and if take-out is an option.
Embrace the Great Outdoors
The spread of COVID-19 taught us that outdoor activities are a great thing to embrace while maintaining COVID-19 safety practices. National parks, state parks and outdoor attractions are abundant, and traveling to them can isolate you from large crowds if you choose to. Taking in the great outdoors is enjoyable and compliant with COVID-19 regulations. Taking a hike, having a beach day or attending an outdoor market can teach you a lot about the place you travel to while keeping you away from too much of the action.
There is nothing wrong with an over-prepared traveler. With proper research, traveling can go so much smoother. Write down all your research and make lists of all the packing items you need. Keeping tabs on all your travel connections like a hotel phone number, boarding pass, COVID-19 protocol and airline information can alleviate certain stressors that take the fun out of traveling.
Keep your cool
Not everything is going to go perfectly according to plan. Be prepared to be nervous about traveling. Keep in mind that most people are anxious to travel again; staying relaxed and composed will eliminate much of those worries.
Stick to your itinerary
Do not be ashamed to write a detailed itinerary. Sticking to the plan may not be spontaneous, but in a world of COVID-19, it can do no harm to stick to your plan to enjoy your (organized) trip.