It hasn’t been easy for travelers in 2020. Most of us have been confined to our homes due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. You may have gotten by with day trips here or there, socially distant excursions with safety top of mind. You’ve lived vicariously through travelers in documentaries and TV shows. You’ve read books that convey what it means to travel the world. You have even honed your photography skills so your shots turn out just right.
There’s nothing like the real thing, however. You want to get out and travel again. Should you, anytime soon?
There’s no simple answer to that question. Everyone’s needs and risk levels are different, and there’s a non-zero chance of either contracting or spreading the virus when you leave your community. The best you can do is dedicate serious thought and research to determining not only when you can travel again, but also how to travel safely.
1. Understand the safety measures in place.
Avid travelers know that travel will never be 100-percent safe. In terms of health, road warriors know the tricks to fighting off germs: Pack disinfectant wipes for the plane, travel-sized hand sanitizer, and an array of remedies to fight off nausea, indigestion, or other ailments.
Those are all still good habits to practice as you hit the road, but you now need to combine them with behavioral practices such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
So before you travel, whether you’re road-tripping or flying, camping out in a state park or staying at a hotel, you need to make sure you know how to minimize the risk of transmission, including increasing disinfecting measures, wearing masks, and picking up food from drive-throughs or quick-service spots rather than eating at restaurants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published guidelines on how to travel (relatively) safely via road, train, and plane.
If you’re still not comfortable, it might be best to delay your departure.
2. Ask the following questions: Where would you like to go, and what would you like to do?
Prior to COVID-19, you might have known exactly where you wanted to go, how you’d get there, and where you’d stay before you even booked. That’s no longer the reality. Finding out what locations are open to tourists is now a key part of your travel research.
Understand that different regions are in different stages of lockdown and subsequent reopening. For example, Europe is currently only allowing intra-E.U. travel for E.U. citizens.
Some countries, such as Iceland and New Zealand, took extremely aggressive measures and now have no active cases. Iceland is currently accepting tourists who either take a COVID-19 test or quarantine for two weeks. New Zealand, on the other hand, is still closed to non-citizens.
Just because countries are allowing tourists doesn’t mean you should necessarily book a ticket. In fact, the State Department advises all U.S. citizens to avoid international travel during the pandemic.
For a better idea of what is open, broken down by categories including air travel, cruise lines, hotels, restaurants, and more, use a resource like Skift’s “Reopening Travel” global timeline, which is updated daily.
As for domestic travel, states are reopening nonessential businesses on their own timelines. Las Vegas, for example, just reopened casinos. New York City, on the other hand, is still largely shut down; while non-essential businesses are allowed to do curbside pick-ups, many restaurants and bars remain closed.
3. Determine a travel timeline.
This used to be the norm: You had a departure date and a return date; you put in for PTO—pretty simple. Currently, it’s a much more complicated process.
The first variable is your target travel date.
Let’s say you want to travel this summer, and you don’t have a lot of flexibility. Well, your options may be limited, but it’s best to focus on a window toward the end of August and into September. If it looks like you can’t get the vacation you want in that time frame, you may have to strongly consider rescheduling for 2021.
Or consider a late-in-the-year vacation. If you just want to get something on the books, you may feel more comfortable booking a trip in November or December, but that doesn’t make it a guarantee. Even when scheduling trips further in advance, you should have alternatives in mind. If nothing else, make sure you know how to collect a refund or voucher.
The second variable is how you prepare leading to the trip and what you do upon your return. Any potential exposure to COVID-19—local or abroad—requires quarantining and strict social distancing for two weeks both before and after your trip. This limits your risk of catching the virus, and helps prevent its spread.
Keep that in mind as you plan. It may affect other activities on your schedule.
4. Talk to an expert travel advisor.
Travel advisors are more than agents. They’re experts, ready to guide your travel as much as sell it. With so many moving parts and the state of travel constantly in flux, you need someone in your corner.
The best way to figure out when and how it’s safe for you to travel again is to speak to an advisor.
Travel advisors go through extensive training to learn the ins and outs of the industry and provide you with the tools to have the best trip possible.
They can answer questions like:
Brought to you by Inteletravel
Often time, people will tell me something like, “wow! I’d love to travel, but, I can’t afford it, I don’t know how, it's too scary, and we just don't have the time.
I personally used to say the same things. I used to dream about traveling and wishing I could just get up and go see the world! But, with work, rent and fear keeping me in my place the furthest I would go was, few hours ride to the beach. It took me over three years to actually get “brave” enough to say. “Screw it. I’m going to try, and if I fail…..Then I fail.
The cool thing is... I didn’t fail. I Left the country and I had a blast! Now I have wanderlust or rather travel fever. I'm ready for an adventure all the time and have an itch to do something new. I get to live my dream and I want to let you know you can do it too! So without further ado, here are a few steps on planning a trip and some tips that will help you travel if you are to scared, short on cash or just don't know how!
Say: Screw it and do it
Repeat after me, “Screw it, let’s just go for it.” Awesome! You see, You are never going to get anything done if you don’t try and like the famous Shia LaBeouf says, "JUST DO IT." Yes, you might be scared. Yes, you might not know what to do BUT, tell yourself you are going to do it anyway. With this mentality, you can move forward and everything else will fall into place. So Screw it, get up get that computer and pick your destination!
Okay, so if you are a scared pants like me, and are too afraid to go very far without your mamma. (cough* me) Then don’t plan a trip out of the country! Start small, if you are a first time traveler, maybe start with a place in your own state. You will be surprised how much is in your own backyard. This type of trip also helps people whose pocket books are tight. Now if you really want to go exotic and have some different countries under your belt, then a cruise is your best bet. They are cheap, group friendly, and full of criteria that you don’t have to plan yourself.
let's start planning!
Spend light and spend right
So now that you have picked a destination, let's talk about how to spend money so you have more money to spend!
Sure you can be boujee and get a hotel, there is nothing wrong with that, but, if you want your money to go a long way then consider these shelter options; plus who spends that much time in the hotel room anyways?
Staying at a hostel: Staying in a hostel is probably one of my favorite options. They are cheap, social, and incredibly helpful. When my aunt, sister, and I visited San Francisco, we stayed at the green tortoise hostel. We paid for a full room, with three beds. If you are traveling alone, you can rent a bed and share a room with other travelers. Most Hostels will have a hall area where you can play games, meet others, and connect to the internet. Also, our hostel had complimentary breakfast and dinner! We only had to worry about spending money on lunch! How Awesome is that?! Another really cool thing about staying at a hostel is that there will be opportunities to see more and do more. Most hostels will have their own events, like, bar crawls or scavenger hunts, so you can see the local places and make friends while you are at it. I meet a really cool traveling couple from Korea on a crawl and we still keep in touch on our Instas till this day! (My instagram. Let's be friends!)
Airbnb: If you are going to pay for a hotel you might as well try your hand out for an Airbnb. In most cases they are the same price if not cheaper! If you decide to travel in a group this might be your best option. You can all split the fares and have a pretty rad house to yourself. Or if want to rent a room out, Airbnb has that option as well. The cool thing about staying in one of these are the amenities. You get access to a full kitchen not just a mini fridge and a microwave. On top of that you get privacy and comfortability. Sometimes it feels like you are at home! Most airbnbs will have really cool features like a pool, game room, hot tub, outside fire pit… you name it. We have stayed at some really cool places for great prices. Just make sure to be a nice visitor and respect the home and clean up after yourself!
Couch surfing: So I’ll be honest the idea of couch surfing can be scary. Who wants to spend the night with a stranger? However, if you can get past the fear, this can be the most fun and be quite a life changing experience. Couch surfing allows their hosts to become “verified” in the community and have references from other surfers so you can check them out before you book. So if you can push past the fear, you can actually save a nice chunk of money with this option. And no, not all couch surfing is on couches, You will be surprised at the generosity of people! Here in our home town, we have a guy who opens his art shop to couch surfing…in a secrete book self! You literally get to stay in a secret room full of fun stuff in an art shop. On top of free room on board you get the option of hanging out with your host or not. Meaning, if you want a local to show you around they just might!
So now that you have picked your destination, and have an idea for what you are going to do for shelter it’s time to pick a date. Keep in mind you don’t have to travel on a weekend. Sometimes a week day is better because there are less people out and about. When you book your shelter you want to book anywhere from two weeks to five days before your trip. The earlier the better. This Gives you some time to put money aside to pay for your expenses.
Food: When it comes to food you also have to spend right. You can go and eat out for every meal, but I would personally disadvise doing this. One, food is a major expense and restaurant after restaurant can really rack up in numbers. Two, sometimes foreign food won't sit well with the tummy and you can spend half your trip crawling from bathroom to bathroom instead of bar to bar. I would recommend splurging on one meal a day. Whether that be a full on restaurant or fast food. For your other meals I would consider eating light and making your own food like sandwiches or salads. Doing this will give you more money to spend on actual experiences.
Pack your snacks!!! Bruh, if you aren’t packing yourself snack, do you even like you? Stop at a dollar tree and load up on snacks! Chips, cookies, drinks, popcorn, and everything else because traveling gives you the munchies!!! Thank me later.
Picking things to do:
Rule number one: always, always, always research things to do. It’s okay to want to go with the flow on your trip, but, have at least a loose idea of what you want to do each day and then look those things up! It would suck to drive 8 hours to San Francisco and show up to Alcatraz only to find out you need to book it months in advance. I’m speaking from experience, do some research and make reservations at the places that require or offer them.
Rule number two: Do not overbook yourself!!!! I can not stress this enough. Do not plan on doing something every thirty minutes. You need time to really be in the moment and appreciate your activity. You do not want to rush through something and miss the whole experience. Be laid back and have a few things you really want to do and wing it from there. I had a whole free day in San Francisco because, you know, ...Alcatraz… And was wondering what I was going to do! I decided to just go for a walk, take my time and just explore since I didn't have anything booked until later that day. While on my walk, I ran into a sale for a tour bus and bam, just like that, I saw almost the whole city in one go! That was my favorite part of the trip!
Utilize coupons: Use Groupon! In most touristy cities they have sales like crazy on Groupon. You can book something that’s worth over a hundred bucks for half the price! If you stay at a hotel, motel, holiday inn,...or hostel...ask them if they have any specials in collaboration with any local attractions. One Hostel I stayed in, gave their guest vouchers for a free drink with a food purchase from the restaurant down the street.
Don’t bring everything you own with you on your trip. Think minimalistic and pack only what you need. You don't want to be lugging everything around with you, taking up space in the hallways, and in the rooms especially if your sheltering with other people.
Ladies, ditch your purse for a pocket wallet or small backpack, when you leave for your day’s adventure, you do not need to bring the entire bathroom with you. All you really need is your phone, wallet and keys. (If you know where that's from leave a comment.)
So now all you need to do is some research on the above and this should give you a ballpark of how much you are going to spend. Don’t forget to add in money for transportation, like, bus fare and gas. you’ll want to have that money set aside, you’d be surprised you might actually already have the funds if you used some of the money saving tips I mentioned earlier. If you do not have the funds that’s ok! It took me a couple of months and lots of yard sales to get me to a few destinations; the trick is to set yourself up for success and start saving right away. Understand That you might need to sacrifice the small pleasures for just a bit (like coffee) so you can experience something life changing. Because every time you travel it really does change you and in most cases for the better. Once you have saved up your funds don’t wait! Book your trip. Book your shelter first, then start booking your activities. Always pack the day before so you can wake up to one less thing you have to do. Remember to stay safe, and most importantly be in the moment and have fun. Happy travels and don’t forget to come back here and tell me how it went.
Check out our travel adventure! We went to L.A. and started off only spending six dollars on transportation! We based the whole date off the red line metro! We stopped at the last bookstore, langers and more! Click here
Want to know more about us? Check out our origin story: Why we sold everything to live in a RV. Click here
Remember! If it planning your trip is just to much for you, consider asking a travel agent for help!