Before Covid-19 hit our shores, we were used to a life full of travel and exploration. Whether it was weekend vacations to another state with our entire families or two months in a different continent on our own, traveling brought us priceless memories and wonderful experiences. For those of us who have been effectively ‘grounded’ since the start of the pandemic, the potential of reopening borders is very exciting. While the Delta variant may have presented a temporary setback, vaccinations are on the rise around the world, and hopes for the resumption of international travel may be on the horizon.
Leaving on a Jet Plane
Countries around the world are gradually relaxing their borders as their population becomes increasingly vaccinated. The European Union (EU) has implemented the EU Digital COVID Certificate since July this year, allowing the unrestricted movement of vaccinated citizens within the EU, and allowing entry to vaccinated travelers from most countries. The United States has reciprocated this stance, announcing that it would allow vaccinated foreign nationals from some countries to enter without quarantine by early November. Other countries such as the United Kingdom and Singapore have adopted a ‘traffic light system’ whereby travelers from countries in ‘green light’ categories are subject to minimal entry restrictions.
According to the latest international survey by American Express, travel plans give 87 percent of people something to look forward to, with 76 percent of people drafting their destination wish list although they have no concrete plans for their next travel date. For 78 percent of respondents, traveling is seen as a way to escape the unwanted stresses of the previous year. However, the travel landscape has changed since the advent of the pandemic. After facing numerous flight changes, cancellations, and delayed refunds, consumers are understandably wary about travel risks. Some people are so tired of dealing with itinerary changes and complex visa requirements that they are using travel agency services to plan their travel instead of making the bookings themselves.
Others, who are content to handle their own itineraries, are reaping the benefits of reduced airfares and room rates. For travelers, this access to cheap bookings is a welcome consolation after being confined for over a year. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that Europe has seen an 85 percent decrease in tourist arrivals, and Asia and the Pacific a dreadful 95 percent decrease. Faced with such dire circumstances, airlines and accommodation providers are scrambling for business. Some companies are offering buy now and fly or stay later deals, where travelers can purchase budget tickets and rooms with open use dates valid for up to two years. In addition, many companies are offering unlimited free rescheduling services in anticipation of possible pandemic disruptions.
Better Safe Than Sorry
For those of us raring to go on holiday, it seems like there is no better time than now. The travel industry is still relatively quiet, and we will enjoy the luxury of having famous landmarks like the Colosseum and Mount Rushmore to ourselves without having to contend with throngs of package tour groups. Nonetheless, the virus has not yet faded from view. Health screening and sanitation will remain in the spotlight for the near future, with most airlines requiring their passengers and crew to mask up for the duration of flights. Pre-departure or on-arrival Covid-19 tests will most likely continue to be the norm, even for vaccinated individuals. Each country also has its specific requirements for proof of vaccination, so you should make sure that you have the essential apps downloaded onto your device beforehand.
Aside from ensuring that you are not an infection risk, many countries require incoming travelers to have valid Covid-19 insurance policies. Saudi Arabia has streamlined this process by including Covid-19 insurance in all new tourist visas issuances, but most other countries will require you to prepare this by yourself. There are a myriad of travel health insurance policies to choose from. Certain insurance policies only cover you outside your home country while others provide global coverage including your country of residence. Some are best for the short term while others cover those who live digital nomad lifestyles and spend months away from home. If you plan to participate in adventure activities such as scuba diving or sky diving, make sure that you find a policy that covers these sports.
Since humans were originally a nomadic race, it can be argued that travel is in our DNA. The desire to see new places, learn new things, and enjoy new experiences is part of what enriches our spirits and makes us feel alive. While post-pandemic travel may be slightly more complicated than it was before, this situation is expected to be the ‘new normal’ for the foreseeable future. By taking advantage of competitive prices and emptier attractions, travelers can still visit their bucket list destinations and have unforgettable holidays.