Pre-Trip Checklist: Top Considerations for Your Next Adventure
- Do you have a valid passport? Before traveling internationally, you must make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the last date of your trip. A word of caution, renewal turnaround time is running 10 to 12 weeks, and even expedited service can take four to six weeks. The shortcut: Travelers scheduled to depart within 72 hours may make appointments to apply in person at passport agencies and centers.
- Consult the U.S. State Department’s country-specific Covid-19 pages for up-to-date alerts and entry requirements. Plan to do this at least a week in advance to be sure you have all necessary documentation if required. Some destinations require COVID testing with a negative result 72 hours prior to check-in. Use your resources, ask your advisor about logistics and what to expect on arrival.
- Did you raid your toiletry kit while sheltering in place? Restock those go-bag basics. Bring extra sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and masks with you this time around.
- Get more bang for your buck! Consider visiting destinations where your travel dollars make the most impact. For example, countries like Kenya and Botswana are suffering from a lack of tourism. Closer to home, boutique hotels and local businesses are struggling too. Speak to your travel advisor about cost-effective travel and being able to help a community that needs travelers like you.
- Purchase “Cancel for Any Reason” travel insurance to protect your investment against trip cancellation or interruption due to job loss, family emergency, or simply a change of heart due to travel advisories or quarantine restrictions.
Cleared for Takeoff: Turns Out Air Travel is Pretty Safe
With the addition of hospital-grade air filtration, enhanced cleaning, and often, fogging the cabin with germicidal electrostatic sprayers, airplanes have proven to be a safe mode of transportation during the pandemic – even if it’s impossible to maintain six feet of social distance in flight.
In fact, a recent study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health put the risk of flying below that of grocery shopping, and a Defense Department study concluded that a passenger on a full flight with everyone wearing masks would have to sit next to an infectious flier for at least 54 hours to inhale a dangerous dose of the virus. Doctors stress the importance of adhering to the public health basics – practicing good hand hygiene, wearing a mask, carrying hand sanitizer – during travel. Also consider wearing a face shield to protect your eyes, and minimize time spent eating and drinking to avoid removing your mask.
Travel Tidbits-Post-Covid Airport Innovations We Love:
- To avoid long and congested lines, travelers at Denver International Airport can reserve a 15-minute appointment slot to pass through dedicated TSA screening lanes (one standard, one PreCheck) by using the app VeriFLY. Post-screening, users board an exclusive reduced-capacity train car to their concourse.
- Tampa International Airport was the first U.S. airport to host a Covid-19 testing center. Now, former XpresSpa locations at Boston, Newark, New York (JFK), and other airports have become XpresCheck Covid testing centers.
Singapore’s Changi Airport has installed touchless systems, including bag-check kiosks with sensors you point at to make selections, facial recognition at immigration that replaces fingerprint scanning, and remote temperature screening.
Trends in Travel… so 2021
Your travel plans don’t have to be put on hold entirely because of COVID. Understanding that taking extra precautions is incredibly important, and pre-planning to ensure you have all your travel boxes checked, it’s important to get out of the house and do some exploring. Even though traveling abroad is so exciting, many advisors are recommending socially distant forms of travel.
Remember when we used to take family road trips in the station wagon? Well, those days have circled back around my friends! Only now instead of the station wagon, its Tahoe’s, Audi’s and Ford’s. One positive thing that has come out of this pandemic is that people are exploring how to adventure without booking a flight. Taking road trips, booking villa rentals, or destinations big on outdoor activities, such as safari camps, beaches, national parks, and ranches are all wonderful ways to adventure without sitting in a full airplane. You can still go on an adventure of a lifetime closer to home even with travel restrictions in place.
Here’s a snapshot of the types of changes tour companies are making to hit the road safely:
- Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold introduced a dedicated “well-being director” to select tours to ensure health and safety protocols are met throughout the trip.
- Backroads expanded its portfolio of private cycling and walking trips in more than 60 countries. Groups of eight or more can take over a scheduled date, while smaller groups can opt-in and out of larger group plans with their own van and guide at their disposal.
- Overseas Leisure Group launched a series of socially distanced luxury RV trips – for example, ten days exploring the wilds of Wyoming and Montana that end with a stay at The Resort at Paws Up.
Talk to your travel adviser about creating and planning a “closer to home” vacation to remember.
Check In: What It’s Like to Stay In a Hotel Now
Hotels have adapted to the pandemic with enhanced cleaning protocols, as well as social distancing reminders in lobbies, capacity caps where required, and, often, elective housekeeping during the course of your stay. Room service has surged (frequently with contactless delivery), and most dining rooms, where permitted, have moved outside, thanks to heated tents.
Fitness centers have restricted capacity and, in some cases, gone private: For instance, five new Rooftop Wellness Suites at the 50-room Hotel Esencia on Mexico’s Riviera Maya include the Mirror, which offers virtual fitness classes viewed through a full-length mirror.
This pandemic has brought the age of new and fast-moving technology to the forefront. Noting scannable QR codes to access restaurant menus and digital check-in for keyless guest-room access. Amenity kits in Las Vegas’ 3,900-room Bellagio and 4,000-room Aria Resort & Casino now include masks and hand sanitizer. All our favorite and bucket list destinations are still out there! It just requires a little more planning to get there. That’s okay though, that’s part of the fun!
The Key to a Safe Return Back Home
Coming home may require a formal quarantine, but regardless of government policies, the CDC suggests maintaining your distance from anyone who did not travel with you for 10 days, wearing a mask inside the home if your housemates didn’t travel with you, washing and sanitizing your hands often, and self-monitoring for Covid-19 symptoms.
Check-in with your travel advisor to discuss what you loved most about the trip, what you would change, and where to head next.