Everyone has approached the COVID-19 pandemic differently. Some people traveled as normal last year, while others, particularly high-risk people, weren’t necessarily comfortable with that.
Now, vaccines are becoming more accessible, and people are once again thinking about planning a trip.
If you fall into that category, what should you expect?
Staying in a Hotel
You might be nervous about staying in a hotel because just by their nature, you’re going to be around people. However, most hotels have gone above and beyond to offer enhanced cleaning measures and put in place stringent social distancing protocols.
For example, during this downturn in travel, a lot of hotels have invested in new hotel management systems that allow them to offer things that aren’t just good in the pandemic but are more convenient for guests in general. For example, increasingly hotels are offering mobile check-in and check-out alerts.
You may be surprised by how well-equipped hotels are right now to handle nervous travelers.
If you don’t think a hotel is right for you, even with their social distancing standards, renting an Airbnb can provide you with more peace of mind and the chance to travel without being in close proximity to big crowds.
How Protected Are You with Your Vaccine?
If you’ve been vaccinated, you may wonder how safe that means you are if you do decide to travel. The vaccines are primarily effective at preventing severe disease, but it’s possible you could still be infected, although much less likely. Being vaccinated is likely to reduce transmission but doesn’t mean you couldn’t still spread the disease to other people.
With that in mind, you should still be cautious if you decide to travel. You should wait a few weeks after your second dose because vaccines don’t work right away. You need around two weeks for a strong enough immune response to occur.
You should also continue to wear a mask, which is required on airlines anyway, and in most public places.
Know the Rules
Whether you’re traveling domestically or hoping for an international trip, every state and country has its own rules and guidelines for travelers.
You need to be aware of what these are and check them frequently because they often change.
For your first trip, you might feel more comfortable staying in the U.S. because then you don’t have to worry about showing the necessary documents to get into a foreign country and then back into the U.S.
Get Travel Insurance
Before 2020, you might have always skipped travel insurance, but that’s not a good idea now.
Even though countries and states are in various phases of reopening, COVID could still affect your trip. If you book any part of your trip that’s non-refundable, buy travel insurance to cover you.
Be aware that a basic travel insurance policy might not cover you if you have to cancel because of COVID restrictions, so you might need to add on cancel-for-any-reason coverage.
If you buy travel insurance, read the fine print beforehand and make sure you have enough coverage.
How Will Things Be Different?
If you haven’t traveled since last year, things will look different.
When you’re flying, along with the masks and even gloves you might see people wearing, middle seats may be booked. Most airlines aren’t serving meals, and if they do serve snacks, they’re pre-packaged. You may or may not have access to drink service on your flight.
If you dine out, you also see some differences, like spaced tables or more outdoor dining.
A lot of the most popular attractions in the U.S. and around the world may be closed altogether or have limited hours or access.
If you’re not sure where to go, there are a few things to consider in choosing a destination.
First, are you willing to fly, or do you want to go somewhere within driving distance?
Second, do you want to stay in the U.S. or go outside the country?
Also, how willing are you to be around other people right now. There are some trips where you can be on the beach, hiking, or doing outdoor activities and never have to see another person if you don’t want to.
Then, there are trips where you can’t avoid crowds, such as theme parks or bigger cities.
You have to make that decision based on how you’re feeling because, again, everyone’s comfort level and approach to this situation is going to be different.