You’ve been ready for months. You’ve been eager to jump on a plane to some exotic country and live off of tropical fruit and rum and forget for a moment that this pandemic ever happened.
But as much as we’d all like to forget, we can’t. COVID is still a serious threat. And although places like Mexico, Costa Rica, Turkey, and Colombia have opened their borders to tourists, it doesn’t mean that we should let our guard down.
In fact, if travelers don’t take precautions, we might all be looking at closed borders once again. So now that we’ve regained the precious gift of travel, let’s use this privilege safely and responsibly.
Whether you are vaccinated or not, you shouldn’t travel if you are showing any symptoms. Get tested to be 100 percent sure.
If you’re healthy as can be, before you jump onto Skyscanner, think about your return. If you live with someone who may be vulnerable, have an alternate place to stay for a week or two when you return. This way you don’t put a loved one or friend at risk.
The next important thing is to know the travel restrictions on not only your destination but the places you may have a layover in. This means that if you have a connecting flight in another country, you may need to show a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination before boarding the flight to your final destination. This applies even if you are just passing through the airport.
Now let’s talk about where to safely travel.
When you’re looking at destinations, consider traveling domestically. I know you might be thinking, How boring. If you’re from the States, it can seem daunting traveling to a less popular state like New Mexico or Oregon. However, there are many underrated destinations that offer breathtaking landscapes of deep green forests, crystal clear lakes, and gushing waterfalls. In places like Idaho and Massachusetts, you can find quirky museums and friendly people.
Here’s a fun travel hack: If you desperately want to get out of the States or your home country, use Skyscanner‘s go anywhere feature. When you are looking for flights in the destination section, choose the anywhere option. Not only will you find places you’ve probably never thought to travel to, you can often get flights at a significantly lower price than flying to a major destination.
Once you’ve decided on a place to go, make sure when you’re booking your accommodations that you ask about COVID regulations and restrictions. This includes the tours you want to go on.
In addition, look up the COVID testing centers at your destination. If by some chance you are exposed to the virus, you’ll want to be able to easily access the testing facilities.
Now if you’ve booked a place that you don’t have to travel over the ocean to get to, you might want to consider not flying to get there. Did someone say road trip? Although many airlines are taking precautions such as mandatory masking wearing, flying can still put you at risk. Driving in a car solo or with people you know can better guarantee your safety.
I know driving in a car to travel might not be as exciting has flying thousands of feet in the air. And no one is going to clap for you when you pull into that really small parking spot as they would clap for a pilot who just landed the plane. But you have to admit it is a good feeling to have when you’re driving down the open road, listening to your favorite songs with the sun shining off of your aviator sunglasses.
Now, once you safely get to your destination and have washed your hands, here are some very important things to remember regardless of how many margaritas are in your system.
Don’t slack off. If this pandemic has taught us nothing, it has reminded us of the importance of washing hands. Consistently lather your fingers, palms, and nails with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can be one of your biggest defenses. Carry hand sanitizer with you. And no, getting drunk at one in the afternoon is not an excuse for not keeping a safe distance. Along with taking care of your body on the outside, it’s important to take care of it on the inside.
Depending on how you vacation, you might be the type who drinks all the alcoholic beverages while binging on all the barbecue, steaks, and grease-heavy cuisines. However, a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables is what will help keep your immune system strong. Aim to have a least one balanced meal a day during your trip. I promise the vacation gods won’t punish you. Just remember your health and the health of others is at stake.
Avoid crowded places and sites. This is perfect if you want to get your Instagram photo in front of the Eiffel tower. Go early in the morning or during non-peak times when visiting popular monuments or attractions. In addition, if you are going to a popular place, maintain safe distances while you are there. Aim to go to places with open air, like parks, beaches, and nature preserves. This is a great opportunity to hike up some mountain or ride a bike through town.
When it comes down to it, try not to worry too much — just be aware. The whole point of taking a trip is to relax and enjoy oneself in a new environment. You can’t do that if you are constantly worrying about a deadly virus. Just stay aware of your health and surroundings at all times, and you’ll be able to get the most out of your trip.
Remember, COVID is still affecting thousands of people. While you deserve to be sipping your pina colada on a white sandy beach, remember there are many people who have not been as fortunate.