With successful vaccination programs in many nations and plummeting infection levels, beautiful locations around the world are opening their doors to tourism.
Due to the lock-down procedures in many countries, people with cabin fever are eager to travel once more. That means we will see a surge in tourism this summer and into the fall.
Here are 11 simple tips to help your survive your vacation as we enter the post-COVID-19 era.
#1. Do your research
Some travelers appear to believe that once international travel reopens everything will go back to how it was before we ever heard of COVID-19. It won’t.
During the past year, many respected and long-established hotels, restaurants, resort stores, tourist attractions, transport companies, and airlines have suffered lost income. Some have weathered this storm but offer fewer services than before. Some have permanently closed. Many have changed ownership.
Even if you are familiar with your destination, it may not be the same place you remember. The guidebooks you used prior to the pandemic will be hopelessly outdated. Online resources may be more reliable, but only if they have been recently updated by people on the ground who know what is really going on.
This means that research is more important than ever before. Ensure any reviews you read on Google, TripAdvisor, or other sites are recent. Changes of ownership, staff, and suppliers means that many services will have changed.
Of course, this can work in either direction. Previously mediocre restaurants may now be excellent while previous 5-star cafés may no longer offer the exceptional service they did during your last visit.
Ignore the average rating of businesses. Instead, search out reviews posted by local guides within the past month or so. The more recent articles and reviews will give you a much better picture of what’s going on.
#2. Check government websites
Every nation’s experience during the pandemic has been different. The disease touched them at different times and to different degrees. Each country took their own measures to control the spread of the virus.
Similarly, each nation will have a unique response to the end of the pandemic. Many have decided to adopt a step-by-step approach where some kinds of business will be allowed to reopen before others.
Even within a nation, some parts may be opened up for tourism quicker than others. That is why it is important to check local government websites and official tourism bureau websites before traveling.
You need to consider what it is you most wish to do in that country. If you only wish to admire the landscape, then it is more likely that you will be able to see everything you wish to. However, if you want to enjoy interactive, indoor activities, you may be disappointed if you don’t research carefully before you travel.
Check with your own nation’s Foreign Office or State Department to see what they say about your intended destination. Such government organizations often issue travel advisories to tell you what you need to know about the country you want to visit. You simply visit the government website and use the search bar to check the nation you are interested in seeing.
#3. Carefully check the website of each attraction
Google may tell you than an attraction is open. This means nothing. You must identify the tourist attraction’s official website and double check the facts.
Three important changes have occurred at many of the most popular tourist attractions.
First, the number of people allowed to enter museums and historic buildings at any one time has been reduced to cut down the possibility of cross-infection.
Second, fewer guided tours are offered around attractions. They run less regularly and allow fewer participants on each tour.
Third, attractions previously open to tourists who turned up at the door now require advanced online bookings. Popular attractions are often booked up weeks in advance.
#4. Get ready for the crowds
Despite these restrictions, you will likely find that more people travel to your destination than you expect. The first countries that open their borders will become especially busy since they will become focal points for stir-crazy travelers from all around the world.
For example, Hawaii is a beautiful location and has always been popular. However, this year it is likely to be even more popular because fewer tropical locations will be available to travelers. Not only that, but there are lots of exciting activities to enjoy in Hawaii. Tourists who have never considered going there before will now put it on the top of their lists.
#5. Remember that it won’t only be tourists
As well as an increase in tourism, most places opening up to travelers will see a simultaneous rush of business traffic. Companies with business interests, contracts, or investments in foreign nations will be sending across representatives for the first time in over a year.
Many business activities needed to be put on hold because of the pandemic, which means an increased number of work travel as companies rush to catch up. Hotels, restaurants, travel hubs, and airports will become super busy.
#6. Book ahead
Due to the circumstances described above, it is essential for travelers to book ahead. Do not wait until you arrive in the country before booking tickets on tours or to enter tourist attractions.
You must do your research as early as possible. Check the tours that are available via up to date travel websites like this one, and keep an eye on flights and accommodations on websites like Booking.com, Omio, and Kayak.
#7. Consider special dietary and other needs
Many travelers have special requirements. Some require medication, such as an EpiPen, that they previously sourced locally.
Some suffer serious allergies that prevents them using certain brands of shampoo or soap. Some have special dietary requirements for ethical or religious reasons.
Before you travel, it is imperative you check you can purchase what you need at your destination. Even if you are familiar with the location and have visited many times, the brands you previously purchased there and the stores or restaurants you visited may have closed down, changed hands, or now use different suppliers.
Check up-to-date information. For example, World Travel Guides has the latest information on dinner cruises in Maui. When you’re not sure how current the online information is, email the relevant business to ensure they can accommodate your needs. Your life may depend upon it.
If you have any doubt whatsoever that you can source a product at your destination, see if you can take it with you. However, be aware of current restrictions on products that you can take on flights.
At airports, you will find you are not allowed to take larger containers of liquids or compressed gasses onto the airplane. Certain foods may not be allowed by local customs on entry.
As a last resort, you may be forced to cancel your travel if you feel you are unable to obtain the medication or food type you require to survive.
#8. Double check your budget
The disruptions and changes to supply chains and businesses during the pandemic will inevitably cause price changes in every area. However, some prices may have come down while others rose.
It is better not to assume that prices will be the same as before COVID-19. Instead, check the price of all major items before booking.
Also, shop around. You may be familiar with the destination because of prior visits, but the economic landscape may have changed. You may find that budget venues are no longer budget and upscale places have suddenly become more reasonably priced.
Most importantly, don’t rely on old information while budgeting. Search out the most up-to-date pricing information available.
#9. Take precautions against infection
Just because the US State Department and the local government has declared a location safe, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your own precautions.
Although many forms of public transportation now space out the passengers, most aircraft do not. Before you fly, invest in a set of disposable N95 masks, rated FFP2 or FFP3 in the European Union.
You can also use them in transportation hubs, on public transport, and in crowded enclosed spaces. In fact, post-pandemic, it may still be mandatory to wear masks on public transport and in enclosed areas such as museums and shopping malls.
You may not believe in wearing masks, but is it worth the risk? If there is COVID at your destination, it is likely to be a different strain from than found near your hometown. That means you may be more vulnerable to it than the locals.
#10. Consider new activities
Certain activities help you to keep your distance from strangers. Hiking and backpacking in the great outdoors enables you to reach beautiful wilderness areas. Using a high-quality GPS unit, you can explore remote areas and get away from the crowds.
When visiting cities, opt for cycling tours and walking tours instead of bus tours. For example, World Travel Guides has up-to-date information on the top walking tours in Paris or, if you’re feeling strong and energetic, trekking tours to the top of Mount Etna. Cycling is best to avoid close contact with other tourists, but walking is still better than sitting next to others. Plus, both walking and cycling are better for your health.
If you decide to see more of the country, consider hiring a vehicle rather than using public transport. But if you prefer to take tours with a local expert guide, choose small group tours to minimize your exposure to others. World Travel Guides has reviewed many small group tours, such as Road to Hana tours in Maui.
#11. Be aware of crime
The economic disruption during the pandemic means that many people are short of money, which is a climate that encourages petty crime.
Wherever you go, be aware of con tricksters, hotel room thefts, pickpockets, and muggers. Avoid dark paths in urban areas, carry cards and cash in a concealed money belt, and make use of hotel safes.
My final word
Do not be afraid of travel post-COVID. It will most likely be just as safe as travel beforehand. You simply need to be more aware of the possible changes and adjust your plans accordingly.
Research, plan ahead, and be aware of your surroundings. But, most of all, have fun!