COVID-19 has changed not only the way we travel but where we are planning to go as well as how and with whom we will travel. After months of lockdown, some governments have begun opening their borders and are allowing tourism to return; albeit with new restrictions or requirements. However, moving from a “collective pause” to getting back-to-business is not without challenges. Explore my tops tips on travel in the age of Covid-19.
So, what travel trends are we likely to see in the coming months?
- Domestic over International – for many, the best way to guarantee a safe and hassle-free escape will be to explore locally and discover their country of residence. Expect a rise in holiday home and cottage rentals as well as longer road trips across country.
- Outdoors and open spaces – as consumers flock to natural environments with plenty of fresh air, escaping to the great outdoors will replace city breaks and crowded resorts as the holiday of choice. Expect a rise in camping, safari’s and wilderness breaks
- Rising germaphobia – extreme hygiene measures for hotels and airlines will be vital to restoring public confidence, but more vulnerable travellers will be wary. Expect pre-travel vaccinations, test on departure/arrival, longer airport queues, sanitiser stations, disinfectant tunnels as well health passports.
- Isolation vacations – from private jet transfers and charter yachts, to bubble hotels, wilderness and safari camps and desert islands. Expect human-free locations and experiences to be the new luxury.
- Flexibility… but for a price – for jet setters tempted to swap the security of home for a trip abroad, prices are likely to be higher. However, terms will be much more flexible. Expect free cancellations, no change fees and status extensions to become the norm.
- Bucket list planning – consumers will be ready to invest in thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime and bucket list adventures after an extended period of being grounded, bored and frustrated. Expect to blow the budget on a larger, longer, and more luxurious escapes.
Having recently travelled abroad over the Christmas and New Year period, here are my top tips on how to enjoy your trip safely and travel with confidence and ease in the age of COVID-19.
BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
Work with your Travel Advisor and familiarise yourself with any applicable travel restrictions
Entry requirements for each country are constantly changing. Many countries are restricting access and entry to people who are not citizens or permanent residents. With some imposing mandatory quarantine to all travellers upon arrival, while others impose it only on passengers who exhibit symptoms related to COVID-19. Others, such as Kenya and Zimbabwe for the time being, have removed their travel restrictions entirely.
Your Travel Advisor is your best resource along with the government website of the country you’d like to visit. @luxurylondonguyworks with exlog global to provide our clients with the most current information.
Choose to take the road less travelled and discover new destinations
There’s no time like the present to venture off the beaten path. Visiting lesser-known attractions or destinations has many advantages from a sustainable tourism point of view. For starters, it reduces over-tourism, which has a significant impact on local populations and their cultural heritage, as well as on the distribution of wealth at the destination.
What better way to practise social distancing than by spending time in nature. Take a road trip, head off on safari or isolate on a private island. Go hiking and discover beautiful national parks and all the natural gems your destination has to offer.
Plan as much in advance as you can
With a little forward planning for your activity-of-choice, you can avoid any nasty surprises on your trip. For example, not all key attractions may be open, some excursions may have limited availability or require pre-booking. Timings may have changed due to enhanced covid-19 protocols meaning more time is required to enter and exit a venue.
Hotels, Airlines, Tour Companies and Transfer Services may have specific requirements to access their services such as negative PCR Covid-19 test. It’s important to enquire and know what to expect before you go. Planning for these changes will give you a better idea of what you’ll be able to see during your trip and ensure you have the time you need to enjoy yourself.
Work with your Travel Advisor and book in ahead
By booking excursions and visits ahead of time, you minimise contact ensuring you can, where possible, have all your tickets with you or on your phone when you arrive. Many travel advisors have access to exclusive options such as private tours, smaller groups and more. Ask your travel advisor if they can book attractions along with your hotel and transport. @luxurylondonguy can assist with this and can also provide access to exclusive perks and privileges from room upgrades, hotel or spa credits, complimentary breakfast.
There is one thing you can’t do ahead of time and that’s tipping local servers and staff. However, you may be able to leave one consolidated tip with a senior member of the management team indicating the names and amounts to be distributed should you so choose. You may want to bring small denominations of local currency so that the local people who live off tourism—and who are already greatly affected by the pandemic—don’t lose this important source of income.
WHEN YOU HIT THE ROAD
Travel light and smart
The two driving principles of this travel tip are to (1) limit the handling of your personal belongings by others and, (2) to limit contact with others.
If possible, try to pack everything into your carry on – you get to skip the queue to check-in and when you arrive you can enjoy a speedy and relatively contact-free exit on your way to the hotel. Make lists… even more than usual and lighten the load. We can all live without that extra pair of sandals, but we’ll be in a bind if we run out of sunscreen or forget our toothbrush or medication. Getting a head start and writing down what you’ll need will help to reduce contact with others whilst travelling.
Carry a care kit with you
Equip yourself with enough disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap, and reusable face masks (they’re more environmentally friendly than disposable ones) to last your whole trip. It may also be worthwhile to also bring a thermometer. It’s good to know before your daily activities or before leaving for the airport if you have a higher than usual temperature. A refillable water bottle and reusable aluminium straws can prove useful too.
Avoid self-service buffet-style restaurants
Goodbye to buffet spoons handled by dozens of people; hello to restaurants where you are served. Many restaurants and hotels have adapted to the current situation to limit the risk of spreading the virus. Some have eliminated buffets altogether, while others serve the buffet food themselves.
Yes, the experience of travel in the age of coronavirus may be “different”, but it still has the potential to be as – if not more – incredible! With fewer crowds, unique opportunities are sure to arise to discover and explore wondrous new destinations. With a little forward planning and some help from a Travel Advisor, you will be able to savour the joys of travel once again.
For a tailored travel experience, plan your upcoming trip with @luxurylondonguy today. With over 25 years of experience in luxury tourism, we offer our clients insights and personally curated itineraries that take the stress out of travel, allowing more time to decompress and discover and explore your chosen destination while you’re on the road.