Vacationing Safely During COVID: A Guide

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Safe vacation during COVID

Picture this: you’re stretched out on a lounge chair under the shade of a parasol. The sounds of seabirds looking for their next meal and the ocean waves slapping the soft sand keep you company as you sip fresh coconut water. You’ve got a dinner reservation for the evening at a restaurant that serves mouth-watering food and your itinerary for the next few days have you brimming with excitement.

Any other year and this little trip down imagination lane would get most of us to enthusiastically plan our next vacation. However, this year has been particularly difficult when it comes to ticking those vacation spots off our bucket list, courtesy COVID. And with the pandemic still looming over our heads, we’re all left wondering: are vacations safe right now?

As far as the general consensus amongst experts goes, it might be best to stave off all non-essential travel until the worst is past us. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to stop planning your next vacation. 2020 also marks a possible shift in the way we travel, not just how often we do it. And we don’t just mean in terms of the number of masks you’re going to have to pack along with your clothes. In order to do both your vacation aspirations and the health of you and your loved one's justice, it’s important to do your research. Here’s how you can go about planning a safe vacation during COVID.

1. Pick Your Destination Wisely

This is the time to take on the persona of that friend who over plans everything. Instead of simply going by the list you’ve always had in mind or throwing a dart at a map to decide, hop on your laptop and check out which places have the least amount of cases. If the number of COVID cases in your desired destination are rising, it might be best to go for a different one or delay the vacation by a bit. This is the best way to zero-in on a list of safe vacation destinations during covid 19.

Besides this, be sure to check out which countries have opened their doors to visitors and which haven’t. Fully aware of the potential for COVID to spread further upon resuming travel, countries have come up with a way to welcome travellers, albeit responsibly. This is done on the basis of mutual trust and understanding (between two countries) and is known as an air bubble. At the moment India has air bubbles with 13 countries. Provided you have a valid visa, some of the countries you can travel to include:

  1. France
  2. Germany
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Croatia
  5. Turkey
  6. USA
  7. Canada
  8. Maldives
  9. Japan
  10. Cambodia
  11. Barbados
  12. Bermuda
  13. Croatia
  14. Malta
  15. Tanzania
  16. Tunisia
  17. Zanzibar

Be sure to take a look at the updated travel advisory of these countries before booking your tickets just so you know you can, in fact, still travel there. It will also help you get a sense of the norms they have in place for tourists, especially since some places have quarantine requirements and certain entry restrictions that are best to be aware of before you dive into planning your itinerary. And if too much planning takes the fun out of it for you, keep it simple and travel locally. However, a little research is still essential to ensure you’ve covered your bases.

2. Get Your Pandemic Kit Ready

The last thing you wanna do during your vacation is going around hunting for things that you need to keep you and your loved ones safe from the virus, especially considering that the availability of some of these is not guaranteed in certain places. Here’s what you should include in your vacation shopping list:

  1. Masks And A Face Shield: Regardless of which mode of transportation you use and where you end up going, in order to keep yourself and the people around you safe, it’s imperative that you’ve got face coverings handy. Buy them in bulk so you’ve got plenty of backups. Do ensure that you’ve got options in your hand baggage as well as carry on.
  2. Hand Sanitizer: You might not be able to find hot water and soap everywhere you go, more so if you’ve got hiking on your itinerary. A trusty hand sanitizer can ensure you stay clean, not just to stave off the virus but also to help you maintain your hygiene. Be sure the brand you go for has at least 60% alcohol. However, do remember that it’s best to wash hands when possible.
  3. Disinfecting Wipes: You’d be surprised at how many surfaces we end up touching when we’re travelling. Have a pack of these wipes handy so you can wipe down the tray table, door handles, armrests, and anything else you’d like to sanitize.

Apart from these, make sure to pack a few non-perishable foods for emergencies like protein/nutritional bars and nuts, a thermometer, hygiene essentials, and some gloves. If you suffer from chronic diseases, consult your doctor, get their a-okay, and ensure you've got enough prescription medication for the duration of your vacation. As long as you’ve got everything you’d need in case you fall ill and need to stay put for about 14 days, you’re sorted.

3. Take The Long, Slow Route

For many of us, vacations are synonymous with airplanes. According to experts, however, travelling by road might be safer than by air, especially if you’re doing so with the people you’ve quarantined with throughout the course of the lockdown. So if you’ve ever wanted to go on a road trip and take in the sights while jamming to “Highway to Hell,” this is as good a time as ever.

That said, if you’re renting a car, ensure that the steering wheel, dashboard, and door handles have been wiped down or sprayed. And pick well-ventilated spots for when you need to refuel, eat, or answer the call of nature.

4. Give Rental Homes A Go

When it comes to post-lockdown travel, staycations are where it’s at. Although most hotels are doing a stellar job of keeping everything sanitized and limiting staff-customer interaction, you’re more likely to be around a lot of people when you’re at a hotel, making them no-so-ideal when you’re trying to dodge a highly-contagious virus.

Au contraire, rental homes come out on the top of most lists of safe vacation getaways. And that’s not without reason. Not only are they economical and easy-to-access, but can also end up being a lot safer as compared to hotels, by virtue of fewer crowds and interactions. For instance, they give you the freedom to cook your own meals and laundry, thus limiting the chances of contracting the virus. Rental homes also offer a change of scenery for when you're going stir crazy while working-from-home but have run out of leaves. Plus it doesn’t have to be boring! There are some brilliant locally-owned rental homes that offer comfort along with stunning views, and even some experiences like pottery and baking workshops. As an added bonus, you will be supporting a small business. 

Whether you end up in a hotel or a rental home, like with most other places, don’t forget to sanitize high-touch surfaces like switchboards, countertops, toilets, and door handles. After all, it’s always good to err on the side of caution when it comes to a pandemic.

5. Reconnect With Nature

If you’re a seasoned hiker who can’t help but be drawn to nature, this is your time to truly indulge that part of you. But if you’re someone who’d rather be walking through an art gallery than pitching a tent, maybe it’s time to try something new.

The key to a successful vacation whilst a virus frolics about is to limit social interaction. And the best way to do it is to pick activities that don’t involve a lot of people. By this, we mean eliminating restaurants, museums, and theatres from your itinerary and replacing them with picnics, hikes, and walks instead. Camping is a great option as well. Pick spots that are less frequented, take a walk in your own backyard if you happen to live close to the woods, and keep your circle of fellow-nature enthusiasts small. Do wear a mask if you’re around locals so as to keep them safe.

Finally, get tested before you head on over to your vacation just to rule out the possibility of being an asymptomatic carrier. If you feel under the weather, i.e. if you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, or a sore throat, do not carry on with your plan and head to a doctor instead. If you do not have insurance, there's no better time to invest in one. Once you’re back home safe and sound, get tested once again. This will help you hold up your end of the responsibility towards containing the spread of the virus while still indulging in your wanderlust.



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