It’s no secret that this year has been a weird one for traveling due to COVID-19. As the country and the world has slowly started to open back up, you might be wondering if it’s okay to start adding stamps to your passport again.
I’ve had many travelers and wedding groups head to resorts since July, and I have prepared them all for the new expectations they may experience while vacationing during a pandemic. Things feel a little different than before and you may see some amenities or activities not available as they adhere to local laws and safety guidelines.
However, I continue to see many forum’s and hateful posts from travelers about their stay, which were obviously not prepared and didn’t understand that just because you are on vacation, doesn’t mean the reality of a world pandemic can be forgotten.
For this reason, I thought it would be a good idea to go over some differences you can expect as you venture overseas to rejuvenate at an all-inclusive beach resort! There is nothing more that gets me riled up than unprepared travelers ruining resort reputations and being disappointed by not being fully informed before they decided to book a getaway.
Most of you should know that you aren’t invisible on vacation, so the same common-sense rules still apply. If you wouldn’t do something at home due to safety concerns, use that same intelligence and gut feeling when you travel, no matter the circumstance.
Also remember that you are protecting the employees too, so they can continue working and welcome travelers. If you aren’t ready to give up your foam pool parties and nightclub outings, or even follow the new requirements during travel with face masks, temperature checks, and possible testing… then it’s not the time for you to travel and you should wait to until COVID is no longer affecting the environments around us.
Before you take a vacation – please take a moment to review some of these new changes you can experience as you travel…
Safety first… and don’t forget your protective gear.
I get it, masks aren’t sexy in travel photos. However, many states, countries, and provinces are requiring things like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc… As your travel agent, I provide you with the specific requirements for your destination to ensure you are well-informed.
Many destinations have implemented expensive fines, and even jail time has been executed in some cases, so definitely don’t take this lightly and feel like this is a choice. If you travel, you must follow the local laws, no matter your feelings on the matter. It’s also always a good idea to wash your hands more frequently, and/or use hand sanitizer in tourist locations. Add wipes and travel sanitizer to your packing list for all future trips to stay as healthy as possible, regardless of the current situation.
You can travel, but where?
There are still many destinations that are not allowing American travelers to enter. As such, the first phase in your travel planning is research. As the CDC recommends, “If traveling internationally or across international borders, check with the destination’s Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health or the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Country Information page for details about entry requirements and restrictions for arriving travelers, such as mandatory testing or quarantine.” You can also check with the World Health Organization to see which countries are still dealing with outbreaks of the coronavirus.
And of course, your travel agent is there to assist and make this a bit less stressful to figure out – we receive continuous training and updates from the tourist boards of their changes and help with understanding the new requirements, so we can guide you through the details.
You may need to be flexible with your dates.
As outbreaks are still continuing, travel can be a bit more unpredictable then it already was, and changes can occur at a moment’s notice. Such as, if a crew member or passenger is found to be positive for the coronavirus, this can cause a disruption in service. Border restrictions may change, and city/country curfews may be implemented. Now more than ever, it’s critical to have a travel agent, and travel insurance instead of trying to go it alone. You could get stuck with more unrecoverable fees if you try to DIY your travel!
Prepare for the possibility of required quarantine/testing.
To enter certain locations a seven to 14 day quarantine in your hotel may be required. Others are requiring a specific negative COVID-19 test results before allowing entry. Most airports, bus terminals, and other transportation hubs are even requiring that you allow them to check your temperature before you can enter the building. As a result, you should arrive early to all transportation check-in locations.
Understand that things will be different than “normal”.
There will be less people, not only because some don’t feel safe traveling during a pandemic, but also because occupancy levels for many hotels and resorts are being capped by local laws that can range from 30-60% in many locations.
Minimizing patrons in restaurants, entertainment venues, tourists’ sites, etc… will also be based on local laws and can vary greatly. Just as our own cities have similar restrictions, you can expect to see the same across the world as they are also trying to keep their community as safe as possible. Therefore, you may run into longer wait times to be seated for dining services, and entertainment options may also be limited. Patience and flexibility will be key for travel these days.
You typically won’t find pool parities, group volleyball between random guests, towel animals on your bed, and even some resorts have removed liquor bottles from the room, as the hotels are being very cautious and adhering to the social distancing and sanitization recommendations.
Safety of guests and staff is most important to keep tourism strong which is very much needed in most of these destinations. Therefore, you will see changes such as virtual dining and bar menus via your phone, paperless check-in, and once per day cleaning & bar restocking to minimize entrance into your room, just to name a few.
Lastly, shopping stores and tourist attractions around the area may still be closed in many parts of the world or have limited operation hours. So, it’s best to research beforehand if there’s something you really want to see.
The good news - many things will be cheaper.
As less people are traveling, prices have gone down for lodging. With tourist revenue so critical to the economy for a number of destinations, they are offering great deals in an effort to attract visitors. You can travel well, and you can travel safely, and we can help you do it.
To learn more about traveling during a pandemic, contact Destinations HD. We’d be happy to help you create a relaxing getaway that you surely deserve after this year, when you are ready.
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