Travel! Did you say travel? How does it feel like? Don’t we all feel the same these days? It’s been centuries ago that we travelled anywhere! I mean who’d have ever thought that something like this would occur, it’s so unreal, straight out of a sci-fi movie, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s true and all we have right now are the memories of all the adventures and travels that we took once upon a time, sigh! There’s no secret that COVID-19, the global pandemic has turned our lives upside down, upended businesses especially the travel & hospitality industry, shattered economies, made people lose their jobs affecting their livelihood, with countries going back by so many years and what not!
So, what’s the future of travel going to look like?
There are umpteen number of questions that keep popping up in our head like:
When are we going back to normal? How’s travelling going to look like now? When are we going to explore the towns, the cities, the coffee shops, the markets, hop on a plane and fly across the Atlantic?
To be honest, none of us really knows! But, one thing we do know is that coronavirus restrictions will be a reality for a while. As per the experts, it can easily take 18 to 24 months to come to pre-pandemic days especially in the travel industry. Moreover, the travel is going to open up in stages, depending on the trajectory of pandemic in the country.
Also, the travel is going to depend on the willingness of people. If you ask me, even if it opens-up I’d still be a little skeptical as I don’t want to put myself at risk and make myself more vulnerable to the virus. So, I would definitely stick to travelling close by whenever that opens up.
WHAT ABOUT INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL?
Travelling internationally will depend on the rules of your country and the country you intend to travel to. For many months to come travelling internationally wouldn’t be an option. Although, I keep seeing my blogger friends travelling as their countries have lifted the restrictions partly especially the European countries which opened their borders from mid-June for Intra-Europe travel. Australia and New Zealand are also focusing on opening of tourism in different stages.
However, some countries have opened tourism with a lot of clauses and many other countries aren’t very comfortable opening their borders for the obvious reasons. The internal tourism is on for the moment but leisure and carefree travel still seems like a thing of dreams.
WHAT ABOUT DOMESTIC TRAVEL?
We travellers need not lose hope because travelling internationally is going to be difficult but close to home travel and road tripping, camping and hiking are going to bounce for sure. Travelling locally will serve the purpose to support local businesses, especially the smaller and independent operators who are in dire need of support.
This can only happen when the concerned authorities and the government finds the situation in control and allows the citizens to travel locally. In India, states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have lifted the ban on tourism so far. However, you must check with the government of the concerned states before travelling as the policies are being changed frequently because of the spike in cases.
WHICH DOCUMENTS TO CARRY IF TRAVELLING?
Apart from your passport, you’d need certification stating that you’re covid19 negative and healthy. In India, if you’re travelling inter-state then you need to avail COVID e-pass and must have Aarogyasetu app on your phone. Screening and verification of the pass/ID will be done at the check posts at the state borders. You may download the e-pass here. The website has been developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC).
WHAT ABOUT THE HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS?
It goes without saying that all the hotels and restaurants will have to take the COVID19 measures with deep cleaning and mandatory sanitisation. Because people aren’t going to compromise on this one for sure. If you’re planning to stay in a hotel, make sure your host is taking the pandemic seriously. Before booking any hotel or Airbnb, do inquire about their safety measures.
Earlier we used to walk in to sparkling clean hotels but now we definitely need to see the “visible cleaning” done, that’s what probably what I’d look for. Request them to remove decorative cushions, duvet covers before your arrival. Once you reach the hotel, handle your own luggage, try having meals in your room instead of going to the restaurant, avoid swimming pools and other public places where the risk is higher. When the housekeeping does their work, do keep a watch how serious is the cleaning being taken.
Many hotels are implementing various strategies like opening up certain floors so that social distancing is maintained. Similarly, restaurants are also applying the above rules of major disinfection, social distancing and limited human contact. Things like allowing only a set number of people at a time, leaving spaces between tables and putting screens.
We too would have to make the reservation in advance, wear masks and be very cautious. I wonder how are we going to eat with the new accessory on and the smell of disinfectants floating all around. Oh god, I think I’m better at home!
HOW IS TRAVELLING BY A PLANE GOING TO LOOK LIKE?
This is something which will see the most changes. Travel which till now seemed fun and frolic would no longer be the same. We might have to reach the airport much in advance because of all the extra safety and health requirements. Many airlines have set up self-check kiosks to monitor passenger’s temperature, heart and respiratory rates before they’re allowed to board a flight.
In fact, many airports too like in Hong Kong have made disinfection tunnels and thermal scanners. Somehow when you make it to the plane after all the hassle, the real fun would start! You’d be sitting with a mask on with probably a vacant seat in between the two passengers or with the reversed centre seat, you might not be allowed to carry your cabin luggage, in-flight food service might not be there or pre-packaged kits containing water and food might be given to the passengers, heaven’s forbid if it’s a long haul flight and you’d need to go to the lavatory!
DO NOT TRAVEL IF YOU ARE SICK
Even if you’re ill normally with no corona you must not travel until your symptoms are completely abated. Because corona or not, nobody wants to sit next to an ill person. Moreover, you’d have to go through a lot of hassle because of being sick. It’s socially unacceptable these days to sit next to a person who’s coughing or sneezing. So, avoid unless very urgent.
5 THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND BEFORE YOU TRAVEL IN PANDEMIC
The future of travel for sure doesn’t seem too bright at the moment. But this’s how new normal going to be and we all must adapt to the changes in order to be safe.
Basic safety kit and Insurance
Travelling in pandemic means to have basic PPE (personal protection equipment). The new normal means that we have to have the face mask, sanitizer, gloves, goggles, wipes, tissues etc while travelling. Even if you at times forget the last two but you must not take chance with the first two. If you never thought of getting insurance before then now is the time you should consider getting one. Not just any insurance but the one in which coronavirus and other related stuff is covered.
Download travel tracking app on your phone (AarogyaSetu in India)
It is mandatory to show your travel history if you’re travelling to ensure you haven’t been infected by the virus.
Social distancing and maintaining contact log
By now we all know how it has helped keeping the virus at bay. Make a broad contact log, it’s an old-school detective work to figure out whom you met and interacted with during all these days/months.
Go cashless and be mindful of what you touch
Now you’ve to be more careful than ever before. Make your payments digitally and upload your travel related documents on your phone. Be extra careful while drawing money from the ATMs, using escalators, check-in points and similar other things. You must use a generous amount of sanitiser when you touch such things and make sure not to touch your face thereafter.
In India, the interstate and international travellers must undergo quarantine for at least 14 days. You’d have to go to the designated centres for the same if you’re symptomatic and at your accommodation if asymptomatic. However, the same varies from state to state so do check with the state authorities before travelling.
I personally can’t wait to travel, although it’s a long way to go! And with the surge in cases on daily basis, I think we all must hold our horses till things improve. Tourism will open up after a few months if not today but life once gone is gone forever so it’s imperative that we all take precautions and be smart about the whole thing. Because at the moment it’s better to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel. We may need a break for being under lockdown but remember that COVID19 never takes one!
What about you, have you been thinking to travel lately? What are your plans, are you excited to travel or are reluctant as of now? Do let me know in the comments below.
Stay safe and stay happy