There’s no doubt about it: the Coronavirus situation has and will continue to impact the way we travel.
We know that — as avid travelers — many of you are looking forward to your next vacation, but are wondering what to expect or how to safeguard yourselves and your loved ones.
Here’s all you need to know to plan and prepare for your next vacation during COVID-19.
1. Choosing a destination
Wherever you choose to go, consider that your experience of a destination will be different to normal, so keep this in mind when planning. If you’ve always wanted to live the hustle and bustle of New York City, for example, or the idea of getting squished into a train in Tokyo by diligent people-stuffers excites you, now might not be the best time to realize those bucket-list dreams. There are lots of options, though, including…
Staying close — Discover your own backyard
When it comes to vacations, we tend to think “the farther the better”, but there’s a lot to be said for domestic travel. You can travel by car, it’s affordable, and right now, there’s no risk of getting stuck or having to quarantine (excepting some states in the US). But the reasons to stay close are more than just practical. Consider this: millions of people travel thousands of kilometers to visit your home country every year… have you seen what they see? How many Romans have actually visited the Papal Palace? How many Parisians have taken in the view from the Tour Montparnasse?
Adopt the tourist mindset and explore your home country through fresh eyes. Plus, right now, attractions and museums that are normally packed are restricting visitor numbers… there’s no better time to see your home sights.
See your region — new worlds close to home
Itching for something a little more exotic? Then why not visit a new neighboring country? They’re often easy to get to but still give you a small sense of culture shock you might be craving.
Before you book, check quarantine requirements for your destination and your home country for when you return. Make sure that the types of places you want to visit are open for business, including bars, restaurants, attractions and museums. The GetYourGuide pages for all attractions and museums are up-to-date with the latest opening information, so it’s an easy way to check to see if things are open on the dates you want to go.
Crossing borders — an atypical experience
While regional travel is the preference right now, there are destinations that are accepting international visitors. Many long-haul flights are back in operation and airlines have introduced strict safety measures to reduce the risk whilst flying.
We’ve created this handy map that tells you which countries’ borders are open, partially open, or closed. We update it regularly, so check back if the place you’ve got your eye on is currently closed.
2. Stay healthy whilst traveling: preparing for travel during the Corona crisis
The COVID-19 situation has progressed differently in different parts of the world. While some places currently pose more of a risk than others, it’s still extremely important for yourself and others to help prevent the spread of the virus. Here are some tips to stay safe whilst traveling.
Carry masks, sanitizer, and gloves
Mandatory mask-wearing is in place in countries across the globe. For your own safety and that of others, wear masks when you’re indoors, in crowded public places, or on public transport.
Carry hand sanitizer and use it when there’s nowhere to wash your hands — but remember that it’s not a good substitute for thorough hand-washing.
Wearing cotton gloves will also remind you to avoid touching your face and eyes and will help stop the spread of the virus.
Take a portable thermometer
While COVID-19 has an incubation period that doesn’t necessarily instigate high temperatures, temperature checks are an effective way to keep tabs on your own health. Carry a portable thermometer and check your temperature before leaving your accommodation each day. If you get a high reading, cancel your plans and monitor it. If it worsens, ask the staff at your accommodation to organize a doctor’s visit.
Right now, travel insurance is more important than ever. It will cover you in case plans change and you have to cancel accommodation or transport, but will also ensure you’re not met with any unexpected medical bills.
Car rental and private transfers
If possible, opt for private car hire rather than public transport. If you’re flying, for example, it’s a good time to consider private transfers from the airport to your accommodation, because the hygiene measures are rigidly upheld.
Get a city transport card
If you’re one of those travelers who loves taking public transport in a foreign country, buy a city transport pass ahead of time. You’ll minimize your contact with ticketing machines and handling money, and it doesn’t require validation each time you use it.
Pick small group tours
Many attractions, museums, and cultural organisations are implementing measures to reduce the risk of infection and overcrowding, including increasing the number of small group tours. Look for this option when you’re booking online.
Choose timed entry
Timed entry slots for attractions and monuments means that the venue can monitor and limit the number of people that are inside. It also means that you don’t have to wait in line for attractions like the Empire State Building, which usually have lines out the door… so It’s a great way to ensure you avoid big crowds but still see the best of what the city’s got to offer.
Buy tickets online
Avoid queuing with lots of people, or handling money or paper tickets, by buying your tickets online. Attractions like the Duomo Milan Cathedral are leading the way in touchless ticketing, asking visitors to book a time slot via a QR code. Just remember to always have your phone charged.
Opt for audio guides for your phone or personal device
Audio guides are a great way to discover more about an attraction or museum. Avoid having to handle money or the physical device by buying and downloading the guide for your phone. If none are available, try to book and pay for your audio guide with your entrance ticket online to minimize contact at the desk.
3. Making the most of your vacation during COVID
No matter where you’re traveling to, you’ll have a much better time if you minimize the things you have to worry about. (Planners… this is your time to shine)
Pre-travel health checks
Get checked for Coronavirus before you go. This will give you peace of mind and ensure that you’re doing the responsible thing for others. There are temperature checks at many attractions, now, too; you’ll have a much better time knowing you’re safe and not posing a risk to others.
Choose your destination wisely
Don’t go where you don’t feel comfortable. This is your vacation and it’s probably been a long time coming… so give yourself every opportunity to enjoy yourself. Read up on the local laws and regulations for the country you visit. Is it expected that you quarantine for 2 weeks when you arrive? Will your home country expect you to quarantine upon your return?
Look for free cancellation policies
Where possible, book flights and hotels through a trusted supplier. Read their cancellation policies before committing to ensure that you can cancel for free in case anything changes. Check for both flights and accommodation: You don’t want to have a flight cancelled only to be stuck with a few nights in a swish hotel.
Plan, plan, plan
Don’t assume that everything will be open as usual. Research your destination ahead to avoid disappointment. Many attractions and museums, for example, now only offer timed ticketing — check for available slots by entering your travel dates on GetYourGuide. (We update all our booking calendars, so you know we’re only selling tickets for venues that are open!) A great travel planning tip is to book the things you definitely want to see ahead of time, then use the rest of your days for spontaneous discovery. For example, in London, book tickets for the Tower of London in the morning, leave the early afternoon free for a spot of lunch, and have a London Eye visit locked in for the afternoon.
This is true not just of attractions and galleries: Reserve restaurants ahead of time and be sure to ask about any instructions or requirements. Many restaurants in Berlin, for example, have switched to digital menus (so ensure your phone is charged!), or require you to wear a mask while entering the restaurant.
Free cancellation on all tours and experiences
Free cancellation isn’t just for flights and accommodation. Wherever possible, book tickets that allow you to flexibly change or cancel for free. We’ve helped you out: all bookings made through GetYourGuide are 100% free to cancel, up to 24 hours before. You can do this yourself via our website or app, so you’re in complete control of your itinerary. Download the GetYourGuide app to book or change plans on the go.
4. A COVID travel checklist
Besides the usual list of things many of us (almost forget to) pack like phone chargers or a spare battery pack, here are a few things that you should add to your “must pack” checklist:
- Check that your destination (if not the EU or your country of residence) is allowing visitors to enter
- Check any quarantine requirements upon arrival in your destination and upon your return to your home country
- Research whether the things you want to see are open by entering your travel dates on the attraction or tour page on GetYourGuide
- Book attraction, museum, and specialty tour tickets online ahead of time to make sure you get the best timeslots and deals
- Look up restaurants and bars, make reservations where possible
- 2 x face masks
- Travel-sized hand-sanitiser (<100ml)
- Travel thermometer
- Cotton gloves
- WiFi/data card for booking & changing plans on the go
Download the following phone apps:
- Google maps for very up-to-date information on restaurant and bar closures
- The GetYourGuide app for flexible planning or to cancel plans for free in case plans change
- COVID apps for the country you’re travelling in. If you come in contact with someone who tests positive for Coronavirus, the app will notify all people who have been in their vicinity.