Is it the right time to travel again?

A man looking at the sky, wondering if it's the right time to travel
Photo by Chei ki on Pexels.com

COVID-19 has sure left us with consequences. The virus has had a serious impact on the world economy and the travel industry. However, after being stuck in their homes for months, more and more people are eager to travel somewhere. But, is it the right time to travel again? Let’s try to answer that question here and now.

A plane flying
Photo by Sam Willis on Pexels.com

Preparation is crucial

Whenever you need to travel, you know that it’s important to get everything ready including your vehicle. But in these times, it’s even more important to be truly prepared, since the consequences could be more serious than before. For starters, your car needs to be ready for the whole trip. Next, you need to have masks, disinfectants, and gloves with you at all times. Also, carry some soap with you, so that you can wash your hands every once in a while. Remember that it’s better to follow the safety measures than to have your travel ruined by COVID-19 symptoms.

Choosing Travel Insurance

Now that Covid-19 is a part of our everyday lives, ConsumersAdvocate.org wanted to better comprehend how travel insurance works with this new “normal”. Their in-depth guide on the best travel insurance features a side by side comparison of multiple companies voted “best for” in different categories. The insurances were researched based on types of coverage, financial strength, pricing, reputation, and extra benefits like support lines and mobile apps (a must for future adventures!).

It’s important to highlight that with Covid-19 the Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) add-on is considered a must for cancellation coverage. As the name itself suggests, it functions as one of the extra add on’s that allows you to cancel for any reason. It is always important to consider your travel insurance alternatives so you can travel worry-free and focus on the fun.

Is it wiser to travel to a domestic location?

The USA has many great locations that you could visit, from the best beaches in America, to amazing and awe-inspiring national parks. But, since the cases of the coronavirus have been reported in every state, you should know that even domestic travel increases the chances of spreading the virus. While experts agree that traveling close to home to a less-crowded place poses a lower risk, keep in mind that even state-mandated travel restrictions vary, so you should check the official state travel website for more information. Here’s some of the latest information:

  • Hawaii is opening up for tourists with COVID-19 testing
  • In Florida, a two-week-long quarantine is necessary for visitors from certain states
  • In Maine, visitors with a negative COVID-19 test aren’t required to self-isolate

Different sets of rules

Every country has its own set of rules right now. So, you have to know exactly the country you’re traveling to and follow the most current guidelines. Here aresome of the rules that are in force at the moment:

  • Some European countries that are major travel destinations are still off-limits to U.S. tourists, so it’s not the right time to travel to Greece, France or Italy
  • Visitors to the UK are required to self-isolate for two weeks
  • Iceland is extending the restrictions for the US tourists until at least July 1
  • Non-essential travelers are banned from entering Canada, but permanent residents or citizens of Canada are allowed entry with  a two-week-long quarantine
  • The Bahamas reopened July 1, and it appears that they won’t require testing

Hotels in the U.S.

Hotels have been deemed essential businesses since the beginning of the pandemic. However, in some states, there were certain restrictions for hotels. For example, they weren’t permitted to welcome regular guests, but only pandemic-related guests, like medical staff, or non-critical patients. Now that hotels are returning back to normal, even with enhanced cleaning practices, it’s important to protect yourself as much as possible. Be sure to clean the surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and light switches.

Renting a car

Renting a car is a low-risk way to travel, compared to using public transport that puts the passengers at risk. However, while person-to-person contact poses a greater risk, you should remember that the virus can remain on certain surfaces for days. Also, research also shows that it can remain in the air for an hour or so. For this reason, while car rental companies are carefully cleaning vehicles, you should also remember to wipe down all surfaces and increase ventilation, just in case.

What about flying?

The CDC and other health authorities are saying that flying is a good option, as there is no high risk of infection on airplanes. With the drop in air travel, it’s much easier to keep the suggested six feet between passengers, or in other words, maintain social distancing. Additionally, almost all international planes have HEPA filters that clean the air. Of course, you should still clean your hands and the surfaces that you touch frequently, and wear a mask.

Woman putting on a face mask
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Is wearing a mask mandatory?

Most airports and airlines require people to wear a mask. You might have noticed that there has been a debate on whether wearing a mask truly provides the protections against infection or not. However, the CDC advises everyone to wear masks and to keep the proper distance. While masks might not provide full protection, wearing masks can significantly help reduce transmission of the virus. Research shows that wearing a mask prevents the infection from spreading person to person. Regardless of whether this is the right time to travel, the right way to do it is with a mask.

Should you avoid cruises?

There were many reported and confirmed cases among passengers on cruise ships. For that reason, the CDC has issued a warning that advises travelers to avoid cruises for a period of time, especially for high-risk groups. Besides, most cruise lines seem to be waiting until the middle of September to start with their voyages again.

Is it the right time to travel if you want to avoid any inconvenience?

During the pandemic, some people were stuck in foreign countries unable to get back home, cruise ships were unable to dock, flights were canceled by the hundreds, etc. After all, these are peculiar andchallenging times, and no one knows what to expect in the near future. So, if you want to avoid any potential inconvenience, it might be smart to avoid any traveling for now if you can.

Suggestion

If you don’t have to travel, but still want to, choose a safer alternative. You can go visit a national park with people you’re already in contact with, such as your family members. As long as you stay out of contact with other people and frequently-touched surfaces, your trip should be characterized as lower-risk.

Conclusion

So is it the right time to travel again? Well, it’s not the best time to travel, that’s for sure. But in case your trip is urgent or you’ve decided to return home after living abroad, it’s still doable. Just try to follow all the safety measures, as their purpose is to protect you as well as other people.

Impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS written over a busy street in NYC

If there is one thing that we can say about COVID-19, it’s that it is going to have a major impact on our society. From the economic repercussions of people being limited to work from home to the social impact of physical distancing and, in some cases, mandatory quarantine. But, as one of the major aspects of coronavirus is the outright ban on travel, we are going to take a more in-depth look into the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry.

How to consider the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry?

Let’s first take into account the travel measures that various governments have instated in order to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic. As of now, international travel is still practically non-existent. The little international travel that is happening is for shipping medical supplies and for people returning home after living abroad. Intrastate travel is also brought down to a minimum. People can travel between cities, but they have a limited time window for doing so. Alongside that, most countries still advocate for social distancing and for staying at home. Overall travel, and the travel industry with it, has been brought down to a record low.

Lufthansa airplane sitting on an airport.

Since this scenario has been going on for a while, multimode countries are considering lifting certain travel bans. This is due to the slowing down of coronavirus, and due to a large number of people not being able to work for over a month. So, while these measures should boost the travel industry a bit, at least at the local level, we shouldn’t put to much hope into them. If we are not careful, COVID-19 can come back with a vengeance. And if this happens, all of the lockdown measures for travel will be reinstated.

Impact on tourism

The impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry is currently quite grim. Most of the summer vacation reservations have either been canceled or rescheduled for late summer or early fall. Empty beaches, vacant hotels, and barren tourist areas will be a trend in the summer of 2020. Therefore, during the months that are usually busiest, people working in tourism will see little to no income. Certain countries have some tourist allure during winter months, but most are reliant on summer tourism. This can be a big problem as certain countries depend on international tourism for a large part of their yearly income. Some of them are:

  • Spain
  • Thailand
  • Portugal
  • Greece
  • The Maldives
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados

These counties have a significant percentage of their GDP based on tourism. How this will hit their economy is hard to tell. After all, global pandemics are not a common occurrence, which is why their full effect is hard to predict. But, if there is one thing we can say for sure, it’s that these countries will feel the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry for years to come.

An empty beach during summer, showing you the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry.

Local tourism

Local tourism, on the other hand, is expected to pick up a bit. Even though we are able to practice exercise and similar activities at home, people are pretty much sick with staying indoors. Therefore, if countries continue to lower intrastate travel bans, local tourism should see a significant increase. Local tourism can provide an easy way for countries to keep their tourist agencies afloat, and to keep the risk of further spread of coronavirus to a minimum. Therefore, if there are no significant increases in the spread of COVID-19, local travel and tourism should pick up. In fact, considering that few people are going to travel abroad, local tourism may even yield some record numbers.

Transportation services

The key part of the travel industry is transportation services. Therefore, if we are going to have a clear idea of the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry, we need to take these services into account. The first thing to note is that most airline companies are asking for government aid. The month of practically no airline travel has put even the best airline companies in quite a difficult situation. If the airline travel ban lasts, we should expect the need for government bailouts in order to keep airline companies operational.

Commercial transport

Bus transport services have been hit hard, but apparently not as hard as airline companies. Most of the bus companies that provide tours and transportation for tourists are in trouble, to say the least. They might be able to bring in much-needed revenue if local tourism picks up, but even this is only a lifeline. And it is far from what these companies would normally make during this time of year.

A tourist bus

A similar case is with taxi services. With COVID-19 going about, people have been using taxis at a record low rate. Add to that the fact that a large number of taxi drivers depend on driving tourists, and you will soon see how difficult the situation is. Again, if we start returning to a normal lifestyle, taxi services should come back. But, just like bus companies, they won’t earn nearly as much as they normally would.

Industrial shipping

All things considered, commercial transport has experienced the smallest impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry. Companies that provide both commercial transport and industrial shipping should be in a much better situation than companies that only provide commercial transport. The only limitation for shipping is that companies have to adhere to certain health standards. Apart from that, they are able to pretty much do their business as usual.

Medical relief shipping

The biggest change for transportation companies comes from the need for medical relief shipping. Countries are trying their best to keep their hospitals properly stocked for combating COVID-19. This often requires international shipping of medical supplies on a much larger scale. This is why a lot of shipping companies are providing their services for medical relief. Therefore, if the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t end soon, we should see a substantial number of companies turn towards the shipping of medical equipment.