For us, travel addicts, I’m pretty sure that the #1 question on top of all our minds right now is: when will it finally be safe to travel again? When can I pack my bags, rush to the airport, hear that sweet sound of “fasten your seatbelts” and start exploring the world again?
Well, as I’m writing this post, we are at the beginning of 2021, 10 months into this pandemic and things are not looking “rosy” just yet. We’ve got strict lock-downs all across Europe and the Covid cases are surging massively in the US and in other parts of the Globe. The good news is that the vaccines have already started to be distributed. However, I expect it will still take a long time before we could go back to a “new” normal.
When will it be safe to travel again?
My expectation is that in 2021 we will (have to) continue to be cautious and responsible with our travel plans. This is due to the fact that we still don’t have Covid under control. I estimate that the travel and airline industries will need at least 2-3 years, if not longer, to get back to pre-pandemic times.
But let’s look on the bright side: there ARE ways we can travel safely, even during a pandemic. It doesn’t mean we won’t get to travel this year. We just have to be more careful (overly careful if possible) and respect the authorities’ advice and guidelines.
My boyfriend and I managed to have a great holiday this past summer and still keep safe from the virus. So I thought it would be useful to share with you some of our tips and everything we did to stay healthy, to get you prepared for your trips in 2021.
How to travel safely in 2021
2020 was supposed to be an exciting travel year for us: we planned to spend 1 week in New York in spring (I even bought Broadways tickets!) and had exciting plans for the end of the year too: New Year’s Eve in Sydney and spending the next 2 weeks exploring New Zeeland.
All that completely changed once covid hit and we had to adjust our plans. Here’s what we did and what we’ll also consider for our travels in 2021:
1. Check the travel guidelines and advice of your government
The first thing we did was to check which countries and regions were marked safe to travel. We decided on Austria, Germany, Czech Republic and, as we wanted to visit our families, Poland (which is where my boyfriend comes from). Unfortunately, I did not get to see my own family in Romania, since the cases were growing and it was not as safe (we would have had to quarantine for 2 weeks there and also back in the Netherlands upon return).
Until we will know for sure when and where it will be safe to travel again, I would always recommend sticking to the regions advised by your authorities. I would also recommend to travel close to home rather than flying across the world. A pandemic might not be the right time for such long travels.
2. Choose a car instead of a plane
We have intentionally decided to avoid big public places and public transport for our holiday and I am sure this has made a BIG difference in keeping safe from the virus. This is how our holiday became a European road trip.
Of course, it will take longer to reach your destination by car, rather than a plane, but look at the bright side: how many new and beautiful places you’ll get to discover, especially if you go on those local, smaller routes, rather then highways. There’s nothing quite like driving through those little villages in Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and the list goes on.
3. Wear a face mask in public, even if it’s not required
I always think it’s better to be safe, and protect yourself as well as others. Last summer, the cases were pretty low in the countries we chose to visit, and the rules of wearing masks varied per country. For example, in Germany and Poland, we had to wear a mask everywhere in indoor spaces, while there was no such rule in the Czech Republic. We still decided to wear our face masks regardless, to make sure we keep everyone safe. Also, as we were walking the streets in Gdansk, Poland, we put on our masks due to the big crowds. We saw probably only 10 other people do so. I didn’t care, better to be safe.
4. Wash your hands, religiously
I feel like this is a no-brainer by this point in the pandemic, but I would still like to mention it, as I also believe it played a significant role in keeping us safe from the virus during our travels.
We have ALWAYS washed our hands before eating, after using the bathrooms, and many other times during the day. It is recommended to use water and soap, rather than sand sanitizers, so we had a big bottle of water and liquid soap in the trunk of the car. But lots of wipes and sanitizers were present as well. 🙂 Health freak over here, I know.
One other thing we always did, and still do even when not traveling, is to always disinfect our phones, keys, and other objects once we arrive home. For example disinfecting after a visit to the supermarket, where I touch so many objects which are touched by other people as well. I use a Dettol antibacterial wipe for this.
5. Respect social distancing and avoid crowds
I think avoiding crowds and keeping the 2m distance is very important when traveling. Whether you are waiting in line at a boat ride ticket shop or simply walking through a busy street, keep the distance as much as possible, to prevent the spread of the virus. If there’s not enough room or too many people around, it’s always a good idea to put on the face mask and be extra safe.
I actually had an extra challenge during the road trip: brushing my teeth after every meal. This is because I had just started my Invisalign treatment 2 weeks before our trip. As the gas station bathrooms were not always the cleanest or were very crowded, I had to get creative. Have a look here at how I managed ;).
6. Dine outdoors, as much as possible
It’s a known fact that the danger of contracting the virus is substantially less in open air. So if there is an option, I would always advise to chose for outdoor seating in the restaurants, and at a safe distance from other guests. This is of course easier during the summer months, but seeing how the pandemic evolves at the moment, I wouldn’t recommend traveling before spring/summer anyway.
7. Make your own sandwiches for the road
Until it will be super safe to travel again, whether you’re going on a road trip or traveling by train or bus, it’s best to have your own food already prepared. This way you can avoid potentially crowded places such as restaurants, fast food places or petrol stations. Bonus: you’ll save some money as well 😉
We were always ready for a picnic during our road trip this summer and had some amazing views along the way.
8. Work out and eat healthy
During these Covid times, we must help our immune system protect us. Working out regularly and making sure we eat healthy food are some of the best ways to do that. Living a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t stop during our holidays. So pack those running shoes in your suitcase, take some apples and bananas for the road, and your body will thank you.
So here you have it, my 8 tips to travel safely in 2021. When will it be completely safe to travel again? My guess is that nobody can really say for sure at this point, as it depends so much on covid’s evolution.
I, personally, am hopeful for things to look better from spring onwards. And I am sure that if we are careful and respectful of the guidelines, we can travel safely and continue exploring the world.
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