Vaccinated travelers are ripe with anticipation as they start booking their first trip in over a year. However, there has been a shift in the physical and logistical way we travel due to COVID. To help vaccinated travelers navigate the already complex world of international travel, we have put together a COVID travel checklist to make travel a little more comfortable during these novel times.
Check in with your travel companions
Risk is personal. Even within a household you can find various different proclivity towards risk and travel. Make sure that you and your travel companions are aligned in your comfort levels with how you feel about traveling right now. Your best traveling buddies might be eager to get out there again but not willing to travel until the destination to which they are traveling has a lower rate of infection or has access to the vaccine. These are all legitimate reasons to wait, and it is essential to have these conversations before you begin planning.
With constant changes in COVID restrictions, it can be difficult to begin planning and to stay on top of regulations as they continue to evolve. Your Travel Advisor is consistently researching travel protocols, policies and regulations and will be an invaluable resource to guide you to destinations that are more accessible, safe and aligned with your comfort levels. A reliable travel partner like Elevate Destinations can alert you to evolving government policies, will troubleshoot how to resolve new obstacles while minimizing your stress and can also help you pivot to a new location if things become too complicated at your original destination.
We all know how quickly things changed last March. It is important to keep that perspective in mind when designing your trip. You might have to make adjustments and adapt to new realities. Have a flexible mindset and be open to going with the flow.
Get Travel Insurance
Many people don’t think they need travel insurance or don’t want to pay the additional money for it. However, as mentioned above, your plans might change! Travel insurance is fundamental to being a responsible traveler. It allows you to make choices based on what is best for everyone’s wellbeing and minimizes the financial stressors involved.
Most airlines and destinations are requiring travelers to show proof of a negative PCR or a rapid antigen test in order to travel. However, if you are traveling to a destination that doesn’t require a negative PCR or rapid antigen test to enter and you don’t have the vaccine, we encourage you to be a responsible global citizen and get tested anyway. Keep the results on you both in paper form and digitally. The United States is requiring all travelers entering the US from a foreign country to get a COVID test 72 hours prior to departure, so get comfortable with nose swabs as a requirement to travel. And have your travel agent include a COVID test in your itinerary that aligns with your departure date so this is built into the design of your itinerary from the beginning.
Less Community Engagement
Elevate Destinations is well known for designing trips with community engagement and building understanding and connections across cultural and language divides. In our abundance of respect for local communities and their health, we may refrain from visiting local communities over the next few months, even if our travelers are vaccinated. Until we know whether or not you can transmit the virus after being vaccinated you should be doing your part to protect the people of the destinations you travel to by wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart, and limiting your interactions. We must prioritize the health of local communities over the desire for deeper engagements during this time.
Hotel selection has changed during COVID. While Elevate Destinations has always favored environmentally responsible, boutique hotels, we are now prioritizing lodges that have open air restaurants, digital check ins and contactless concierge services while following stringent cleaning protocols. In some cases this means we book villas or private houses. This type of accommodation comes with different amenities and services and it is important to set your expectations accordingly.
Cut back on your waste not your wallet
The travel industry has been hit the hardest by the COVID pandemic. This is the time to travel with an empathetic and generous attitude. Leave gracious tips while dining, touring and especially for your housekeeping staff who are often living on the bottom of the economic pyramid. Shop locally to support business owners. Tourism is going to be a vital part to building back the world economy and livelihoods. Your dollars can have a huge impact on economic recovery.
Pack the right PPE and sanitation products
While we are big fans of people traveling light and supporting local economies with purchasing goods in that country, when it comes to protective COVID supplies, we are encouraging travelers to bring these supplies with them. We don’t want to take away these supplies from local communities and we also can’t guarantee you will find them in said destination. However, with this recommendation is also a caveat, don’t leave them behind in your destination! Take your trash and supplies home with you. Leave no trace of used masks or the plastic they were wrapped in. And only leave unused items for community members who would like them.
Prioritizing your impact
Align your travel decisions with your values. When you travel, keep your values in mind as you choose your travel agent and how you interact with others.
At Elevate Destinations, every journey you take with us funds a local field trip called Buy a Trip, Give a Trip. Our travel program democratizes access to the natural wonders of destinations often only accessible to those with money and privilege. Travelers should analyze their journey for impact. What is the positive and/or potentially harmful impact of my trip? If you don’t know how to do this, ask your travel planner for a greater understanding of how they design for positive impact. You will be able to tell if this is an afterthought or embedded into the planning of your journey from the beginning.
Carbon Offsetting / Carbon Capture
Our environment is still in crisis. Protecting the earth, even when we travel is a priority. Elevate Destinations carbon offsets ALL of our trips and we encourage our travelers to offset their airfare either through Native Energy or through Tomorrow’s Air which actually takes carbon out of the atmosphere! No one should be traveling without taking steps to counteract the negative carbon footprint of that trip.
Expect a reentry plan for yourself and your loved ones
Today’s travel doesn’t just impact you. It impacts the people you come home to as well. Make sure you are following the CDC guidelines upon returning home and protecting your loved ones and community from any possible spread of the virus, even if you are vaccinated.