6 Tips for Travel in the COVID-19 Era

It is no surprise that people are traveling much less than usual this year, and for good reason. Leading experts, including the CDC and WHO, recommend against nonessential travel to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But perhaps you have an essential work trip or a far-away family member in need. Maybe several months in quarantine makes anywhere else sound enticing. For now, travelers need not only to explore where to go, where to stay, and what to do, but must first and foremost focus on guidelines and protocols around safety and well-being.

We recently hosted a conversation with Jane Jones and Annie Linnemann of Provident Travel to talk about the current state of travel, and to look toward the future. From their expertise, we’ve gleaned 6 tips for travel in the COVID-19 era.

Hit the road

The U.S. has experienced a dramatic increase in road trips, particularly during the summer months. As shutdowns and distancing limitations remain in effect, people are getting restless. Traveling by car offers an opportunity for a change of scenery, a visit with family, or an outdoor adventure in a mode that gives the traveler a bit more control over their surroundings.

Download these useful apps to help you on your journey:

  • Cincinnati-based Roadtrippers is a trip planner and travel guide in one. Roadtrippers’ travel resources can even help you be a tourist in your own town. 

  • iExit is an essential app for road travel that uses your phone’s GPS to search for rest stops, gas stations, restaurants, stores, playgrounds, and even Wi-Fi. It also tells you what’s open and what’s not, which is particularly useful as we continue to experience pandemic-related closures and service interruptions.

Exercise appropriate precautions

As with so many areas of our society, the travel industry has been adapting to new guidelines and best practices to augment consumer safety. Here are some specific measures different facets of the industry have implemented to keep their customers safe

Hotels are establishing virtual check-in, room entry by phone, bell assistance, and on-call services to reduce touchpoints. Operational hours for amenities including pools, spas, fitness, dining, and more may be altered to allow time for enhanced sanitation. Request-only room cleaning and linen service are becoming commonplace.

Restaurants – including hotel and resort dining areas – are limiting capacity to guarantee safe distancing. Buffets are largely prohibited. Many eateries have implemented reservation systems, curbside pickup, carryout options, and outdoor dining even at restaurants that did not previously offer such services.

Airlines have reduced capacity to increase distancing capabilities and have implemented enhanced sanitation procedures. Cabin air is cleaned by hospital-grade HEPA filters which eliminate 99.7% of particles. Boarding and deplaning protocols have been adjusted to reduce congestion, and passengers can use apps for check-in, security, boarding, transfers, baggage claim, and more.

Work with a travel advisor

Much like the peace of mind you experience working with a financial advisor, a travel advisor can help you book a trip with confidence. While the convenience and perceived value of making reservations online might be tempting it can be costly – especially in this unpredictable environment. Travel advisors are working hard to keep their clients apprised of the latest travel restrictions and challenges, as they receive daily updates from industry insiders. What’s more, reputable advisors work within a robust network of trusted partners, which helps protect your interests should things change between booking and departure.

Get the insurance

Like any type of insurance, travel insurance can feel overwhelming and complicated. But, you don’t realize how desperately you need it until you must put it to use. It’s likely we’ll feel the ripple effects of this pandemic for years to come; travel insurance can cover cancelations and much more. Plus, a thorough travel advisor will help you select the travel insurance that is most appropriate for your trip so you’re not over- or under-buying.

Purchasing travel services by credit card provides an additional safeguard – with no added costs. If a traveler books using a credit card and the company defaults or goes out of business, the Fair Credit Act requires the credit card company to reimburse you for services not rendered. The sharp decline in travel makes even highly reputable companies vulnerable and makes it increasingly difficult to predict what companies might go out of business, as when we saw when Hertz recently declared bankruptcy.

Do your homework!

As with so many aspects of life right now, travel restrictions, guidelines, and best practices are changing daily. Before you plan any travel – and especially before you depart – be sure to check the latest updates so you don’t encounter any unwanted surprises when you reach your destination – or along the way. A trusted travel advisor can bring you up to speed, or you can do your own research.

Here are a few places to start…

Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Worldwide Travel Notices

Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Guidelines for Travel in the U.S.  

World Health Organization – Coronavirus Travel Advice

Dream now, travel later

While we may currently be limited in where we can physically travel, there are no restrictions on dreaming about your next adventure. Now is as good a time as any to research that bucket-list trip or brainstorm options for your next family vacation. It is also a good idea to check your passport and make any necessary updates so it’s ready to go when you are.

As travel normalizes even with new restrictions in place, experts predict an uptick in travel as people get stir-crazy, particularly to destinations that are within driving distance. In fact, advisors are already seeing more bookings for 2021 as travelers look ahead, so it wouldn’t hurt to begin your own careful planning. Just be sure to review cancellation policies before you reserve!

As with so many things, just remember that today’s travel requires a shift in your thinking, and your expectations. But the travel industry has been through crises before and has always found ways to adapt and reinvent. Before you know it, you’ll be embarking on a much-anticipated trip, and it will feel better than ever. 

Travel guidelines and restrictions are changing regularly. We first and foremost urge you to follow all federal, state, and local laws and guidelines surrounding travel. If you have specific questions or concerns about travel, we recommend contacting a trusted travel advisor.

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