- Date : 13/03/2021
- Read: 6 mins
Craving an exhilarating travel experience after the traumatic year that was 2020? Here are some key things to keep in mind when planning your trip
Eager to visit exotic locales? Want to travel and feel alive? As tourism slowly opens up, all of us who have been cooped up at home for nearly a year are finally seeing some respite. However, travel in 2021 comes with its very own unique rulebook. The most important thing to remember is that while you can now step out, the pandemic is not over. There are many new things to factor in and plan for.
Worry not, we are here to help. Here’s a list of some important things you need to pay heed to before you set out on new adventures this year.
1. Educate yourself on COVID-19 guidelines
Do thorough research to make informed travel decisions. Is the place you wish to visit safe? What are the COVID-19 guidelines you will have to follow once you get there? Are you required to quarantine yourself once you get there? Are there any travel restrictions put in place by the government? Would you be required to take a COVID test before you can travel or on arrival? Are restaurants open for tourists? Will you have to quarantine yourself once you are back home? These are some of the questions you will have to find answers to before you make your travel plans.
2. Plan well in advance
People have been feeling trapped for a long time now. As travel starts, there will be a rush to get out. Expect flights to be full, hotels to be sold out, and car rentals to be fully booked. What’s more, everything will be super expensive if you decide to go on a spontaneous trip. This means you have to plan well in advance to ensure that your trip goes well. However, at the same time, you will have to be open to last-minute changes. More on this below.
3. Find out the situation at your destination
What is the first thing you would earlier do while making your travel plan? Check for cheap air tickets, right? All that will have to change. The first step now is to read up on the number of cases at your desired destination and the travel restrictions put in place. As tourism resumes, there will be a surge in COVID-positive cases. If the place you wish to visit has become a high-risk locale, it is advised that you settle for a staycation instead.
4. Have a backup plan ready
Accept that there are high changes of your travel plans stumbling along the way. Tours may get cancelled, things may not go according to plan, or you may get stuck in one place. Patience is essential; you must be open to going with the flow. Prepare for any eventuality and have a Plan B. Think about what you will do if flights are suspended or the tourist destination you are at shuts down. Keep your options open. Hope for the best but plan for the worst.
5. Buy refundable flight tickets
Many people lost money on flight tickets in 2020 or were refunded only after many months after the government’s mandate. As the situation pans out, we don’t know if there will be more lockdowns, travel restriction, or flights suspended in certain high-risk areas. To avoid losing money or having it stuck with the airlines, buy refundable tickets. If the scenario worsens, you have the liberty of cancelling your travel plans without a lot of stress.
6. Ensure your hotel bookings are flexible
The same extends to hotel bookings. While a lot of hotels do provide free cancellation or change of dates till seven days before your arrival date, insist on free same-day cancellation. The pandemic situation is very dynamic and unpredictable, making it very important to safeguard your interests. The good thing is hotels are looking for business and are more than likely to accommodate your request.
7. Be ready for more lockdowns
While the worst is hopefully over, it is not over yet. If the number of cases go up, there will be more lockdowns. Currently, the states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal, and Chhattisgarh have the highest number of active COVID-19 cases, and loackdowns are already being put in place. If the same happens in the areas you plan to visit, you will have to cancel your travel plans, or worse, be stuck in your destination country/state. While you plan your trip, be mentally prepared for lockdowns.
8. Get travel insurance
It is always necessary to buy travel insurance, and more so during the time of a global pandemic. Compare policies and look for one that not only provides international travel insurance, but also covers pandemic-related cancellations. A good travel insurance plan should cover all travel and health-related contingencies during your entire trip. Such an insurance plan may be slightly more expensive, but is definitely worth it. Read this to know more about types of travel insurance coverage in India.
9. Consult a travel advisor
If you need help in understanding the various travel requirements, consult a travel advisor. Most advisors or agents have spent the last few months keeping up with various guidelines, hotel and flight policies, overseas travel insurance, and COVID-19 regulations. As things develop and change at a fast pace, they are best qualified to guide you so that your trip is as smooth as possible.
10. Take safety precautions at all times
Even if you travel to a place with very few COVID-19 cases, do not let your guard down. Follow all rules for your safety and those around you. This means wearing a mask at all times, washing your hands frequently, sanitising things that you have touched, and maintaining social distancing. If you feel unwell during your trip, quarantine yourself and get tested.
11. Prepare for crowded holiday spots
Just like you, people are fed up of being at home and are itching to travel. Many people who had plans in 2020 have just rebooked for 2021. This means that popular travel destinations are likely to be extremely crowded. Social distancing will take a hit, especially in overpopulated countries such as India. This makes it even more critical to keep your mask on at all times and stay away from touristy spots.
Travelling in 2021 not only requires us to learn a new set of rules but also develop a fresh frame of mind. Be flexible and stay abreast of all the latest developments related to the pandemic. Let the lessons of the past year help us become travellers who are mindful – of oneself, others, and nature. Should you buy travel insurance online? Read this to get answers to all your queries.