In the coming year, and for years to come, how we travel will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, just as major acts of terrorism 20 years ago permanently changed how we conduct airport & travel security, the pandemic will affect health & safety procedures and precautions we will need to take when traveling.
Travel is important; a year of being confined to our homes has many of us itching to get out. But no matter how strong our cabin fever gets, there are important considerations we can’t ignore when we take our next vacation:
Travel Tips: Habits to Keep Post-COVID
We all learned some valuable new habits from living with COVID-19 for the past year, and some of those new practices are essential when traveling:
1. Wash your hands regularly
One thing we all learned thanks to COVID-19 is that we weren’t washing our hands thoroughly or often enough. The new standards of cleanliness we learned over the past year should be a permanent change, especially when we are traveling and away from home.
2. Use personal protective equipment
Whether your destination requires that you wear a mask or not, you simply must pack masks and have them with you on your travels. You can’t predict what conditions might change locally where you’re going, or what businesses will require in the way of protective gear. Don’t leave the mask behind just because you’re vaccinated and some places no longer require them.
3. Sanitize and keep things clean
Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are also probably here to stay for the long term. Pack your own personal supply of these items when you travel and be ready to use them as needed. Don’t assume a hotel room or rental car is sanitary just because it looks clean; take a few extra minutes to protect yourself from potential pathogens.
4. Distance yourself where needed
You might not be required to keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others in the coming year, but many people will be grateful to you if you give them some extra space. Even if both of you are healthy and vaccinated, leaving a little bit of distance sends a signal that you take each other’s health and safety seriously. This little bit of good will is important when traveling and will earn you some extra hospitality.
Travel Planning Tips Post-COVID
In a post-pandemic world, planning ahead when you travel is more important than ever. Besides protecting your health and wealth from the unexpected, planning is its own reward; some of the joy and satisfaction that travel brings can come from the process of thinking about and planning for your trip. So don’t deny yourself the pleasure of anticipating your vacation and planning for anything that might happen.
5. Get travel insurance
Different types of insurance can seem complicated. Travel insurance policies have been created to respond to COVID-19, so look into travel insurance when you’re going to be away from home. In particular, look for policies that offer trip cancellation coverage—a good policy might cover 100% of your trip if it’s canceled due to coronavirus or 75% if it’s canceled for some other reason. Insurance should also cover unexpected medical expenses on your trip, especially if you’re doing something active, like rock climbing, hiking, etc.
6. Have proof of vaccination ready
Get vaccinated before you plan your trip. Especially if you’re going overseas, it’s likely you will need to show proof of vaccination before the host country will let you in. Ultimately, your goal is to keep yourself and your family safe, and getting vaccinated does that while also protecting the people in the area you’re visiting.
7. Do your own research
Research the places you’re visiting. Will you have to quarantine when you get there or return? If you’ve got to quarantine for 2 weeks upon arrival, then it’s likely you don’t want to visit that destination this year. We only get limited vacation time, so find a safe place to visit that won’t confine you to quarters when you arrive. Also consider whether you’re visiting a place that will require you to quarantine when you get back home; we’ve all spent enough time on lockdown, let’s not opt for any more weeks behind closed doors.
8. Find a good travel agent
Travel agents may be back. After the internet and discount travel sites decimated the travel advisor industry, COVID makes a good travel agent more valuable than ever. Financial protection and expertise comes with using a travel agent, and if your trip runs into unanticipated snags, your agent will be a good resource for last-minute changes to your itinerary.
9. Make reservations in advance
Reservations will be needed more in the future than they were pre-pandemic. Theme parks and attractions like museums are going to limit how many people they cram into a limited space, so don’t expect walk-in availability when you take your trip. Make your reservations as early as you can so you aren’t turned away when you get to the entrance to your destination.
10. Book your flight as early as possible
Flights will likewise be limited in seating availability if distancing practices continue, so don’t wait to book your seats if you plan to fly. Find out what the cancellation policies are (or get travel insurance like we talked about above) before you pay for the flight.
11. Be flexible with your plans
Flexibility is going to be necessary going forward. No matter how thorough your plan, there may be unexpected delays or shutdowns that change your plans. That means having a back-up activity or destination that won’t explode your budget is important.
Get ready to get back to traveling
It’s said that the travel industry contributes 10% of the world economy. It’s good for all of us when we move freely and interact with new faces and places, so don’t let the pandemic permanently lock you down. By taking some smart precautions and planning ahead, you can come up with travel plans that protect you from financial loss and risk to your health.
Credit cards can be an important part of any vacation, as they allow you to shop securely and offer convenience and protection from fraud. But if your credit card balances are too high and don’t leave room for travel expenses, you need to take action to pay down that debt and free up your available credit for your next trip away from home.
Credit.org is standing by to offer free non-profit debt coaching to help you create a plan to pay off your debts. Once you’ve wiped out those balances, you’ll be ready to use your credit cards responsibly while at home or on vacation.