What do safe travels mean? How can we travel responsibly during a pandemic? We’ll answer these and more in this article!
If you’re like us who spent most of 2020 at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can only imagine how itchy your feet are to explore the world again.
Now that some borders have reopened for tourists again, for sure, you already have your bucket list prepared and your fingers are ready to hit that “book now” button any time. The question is, is it safe to travel now? Actually, it depends.
While experts agree in general that we should postpone our travel plans and stay home for the upcoming holidays, there are ways you can travel safely abroad or domestically.
How to Travel Responsibly During the Pandemic
Here’s what you should do in case you decide to travel in pandemic, and what you can do to help keep yourself and others safe.
- Understand the risk
- Check your hometown and destination’s travel restrictions
- Plan your itinerary
- Download helpful COVID-related apps
- Don’t forget your pandemic essentials
- Protect the public
- Sanitize everything
- Support local
- Skip housekeeping if not necessary
- Respect hospitality staff and tip generously
What’s inside this blog?
- How to Travel Responsibly During the Pandemic
Before your trip
During your trip
- What it Takes to be a Responsible Tourist
- Frequently Asked Questions About Safe Travels & Traveling During the Pandemic
Before your trip
1. Understand the risk
These days, we can’t help but ask if it is safe to travel abroad now since the pandemic is still quite far from coming to an end. If you decide to take a vacation during pandemic, the first responsible tourist behaviour to keep in mind is understanding the risks outdoors.
Even with the vaccine rollouts, experts say that the pandemic is here to stay until a few years. Meaning, traveling will not return to the way it used to be (or worse, it could never be). So, when traveling during pandemic, you risk not only getting the virus yourself but spreading it if you’re infected, bringing it with you to your destination, or taking it home with you at the end of the trip.
We have to embrace mindfulness so that we can be well prepared both physically, mentally, and financially to face the new normal. Remember that we have a responsibility to keep the virus transmission low to zero, and that it is not only your health you should keep an eye on but also others’ wellbeing.
2. Check your hometown and destination’s travel restrictions
Another responsible tourist behaviour is always being on top of all the protocols before traveling during pandemic. Always check your hometown and your destination’s travel restrictions so you’ll be prepared for the necessary requirements. Some areas require a negative RT-PCR test result before entering the area, some need a confirmed government-accredited hotel booking, and so on. Many local government units are very strict when it comes to allowing travelers to enter their area so if you fail to comply with any of their requirements, you will be forced to return to your home. Better be prepared than sorry.
3. Plan your itinerary
Spontaneity can be more fun when traveling and we won’t deny that. But impulsiveness on a pandemic travel, that’s a totally different story. Traveling without a plan during the pandemic is way too risky.
Say you hop on a tricycle to bring you to a famous beach spot, but when you arrive, it’s close. How disappointing is that, right? Not only you’ll waste time but you’ll also waste some money that you could spend elsewhere. So before you go all out on your summer vacation during pandemic, make sure you have a well-planned itinerary.
4. Download helpful COVID-related apps
In a bid to help monitor COVID-19 transmission, many mobile apps emerge as feasible solutions to making large-scale contact tracing possible.
Some apps may be able to determine who you have been in close proximity to and will be alerted when an infected person is within your proximity through the help of the Bluetooth phone feature. With this information, you can take measures to protect yourself and others.
One popular contact tracing app in the Philippines is StaySafe.ph which is a government app and website. The StaySafe app will generate a heat map for infections using self-reported information.
5. Don’t forget your pandemic essentials
During the pre-COVID years, we always make it a point to bring sunblock, sunglasses, and a camera when traveling. While these are still on our packing list, our must-have travel essentials now are completely different.
When you decide to travel in pandemic, stock up on practical products that’ll make your trip infinitely easier and worry-free such as alcohols, hand sanitizers, extra face masks and filters, face shields, wipes, and so on.
During your trip
6. Protect the public
If you’re still asking is it safe to travel internationally, the short answer is yes. Only if you are a responsible tourist.
When you go on a vacation during pandemic, practice social distancing measures, wear face masks, both indoors (public places) and outdoors, especially where social distancing isn’t possible. We will only be able to flatten the curve if we practice responsible tourist behaviours to protect not just ourselves but also others.
7. Sanitize everything
We never know where the virus is so it’s a great practice to always sanitize everything before touching. Whether it’s the elevator buttons or the doorknobs, sanitize anything you’ll hold so the virus will not transfer to your hands. If you can’t sanitize things from time to time, wash your hands with soap (for 20 seconds) or spay some alcohol to kill the virus. Just think about it this way: it is better to spend a few minutes cleaning than end up getting sick.
8. Support local
When you’re visiting a destination, make sure that getting some cultural insights from the locals is part of your travel plans. Discover their rich culture, heritage, and traditions to learn about their way of life. These are simple things traveling gives that might inspire us to become better persons.
9. Skip housekeeping if not necessary
While hotel staff clean up after us or offer fresh towels every day, we don’t really need that especially if we’re only staying for a couple of days. Limiting housekeeping is safer as it reduces your interaction with other people.
10. Respect hospitality staff and tip generously
During these difficult times, people working in the hospitality industry are trying to give you safe travels and a memorable pandemic travel experience. They are taking risks in order to pay their bills. They, too, are experiencing tough times (could be tougher than yours) so have respect and empathy for them.
And when it comes to tipping, tip generously. You have the privilege to leave your home right now to see new scenery, clear your head, and have summer vacation during a pandemic so share your blessings with others because times are hard now.
What it Takes to be a Responsible Tourist
Even if we’re battling a pandemic, you can still enjoy the pleasures of safe travels if you are careful with your health and others’. Sure, planning a travel pandemic can be quite a challenge as it takes time and extensive research but mindfulness and taking responsibility for your actions will benefit everyone in the long run. So to be a responsible tourist, all you have to do is protect everyone’s wellbeing by following the health protocols.
Frequently Asked Questions About Safe Travels & Traveling During the Pandemic
Q: Is it safer to travel by private car during a pandemic?
A: Avoiding public transport and flights is the safest decision as you will not have to travel with so many strangers. If you really want to travel, take a road trip during pandemic instead and travel by your private car.
However, just because you’re taking your own car for a spin doesn’t mean a road trip during pandemic is risk-free. The risks you could be facing are seen at gas stations, convenience stores, public restrooms, and anywhere you’ll have to make pit stops.
Q: Will it be safe to travel in 2022?
A: Nobody can tell if it will be safe to travel in 2022. But experts say that the coronavirus is here to stay. The good news is, many people across the world are fully-vaccinated already, lowering the chances of virus transmission.
Q: What is safe travel meaning?
A: The “safe travels” meaning is usually a polite way of wishing someone a safe journey, and to have a good time wherever they may be headed.
Q: How long does the COVID-19 virus survive on surfaces?
A: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no confirmed timeline for how long a COVID-19 virus survives on surfaces. However, most likely it behaves like other coronaviruses. Studies show that coronaviruses can survive on surfaces for a few hours up to several days depending on varied conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature, or humidity of the environment).
If you think that a surface is infected, sanitize it with disinfectant; wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer; and if possible, minimize touching your eyes, mouth or nose.
Q: How long does it take for symptoms of the coronavirus disease to appear?
A: According to doctors, the average it takes for the COVID-19 symptoms to appear is 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus, but it can take up to 14 days.
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