As the United States and many other parts of the world continue opening up after lockdown alongside the vaccine rolling out, many are enjoying a general return to normalcy in many ways. But, though many of us are able to do a lot of the things we enjoyed from our pre-pandemic lives, certain new worries have emerged or existing ones have become heightened. Case in point? A growing hesitancy to hop on a plane and take a vacation in light of safety concerns.
Traveling right now is a personal choice, and of course it’s okay to be cautious. That said, information is helpful for easing lingering feelings of worry. With that in mind, keep reading for the best post-lockdown travel tips from hotel owners, travel experts, and mental-health professionals to ease worried feelings about staying safe and healthy while away from home.
- Elisabeth Abbott, LMFT, Elisabeth Abbott, LMFT, is a psychotherapist.
Below, experts provide 10 post-lockdown travel tips and answer FAQs to ease stress about upcoming trips.
1. What essential safety tips should travelers keep in mind about flying?
"Essential safety tips include wiping down your seat, seat buckles, and tray tables before your flight; changing out of your travel clothes and washing them as soon as you reach your accommodation; and keeping your immune system healthy by eating well and taking vitamin supplements, as needed.
"People should also remember that while vaccinations are rolling out, wearing a mask hasn't gone out of style. To continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent unnecessary wariness, wear your mask when around strangers and especially when in a heavily trafficked or crowded spaces. I recommend avoiding packed spaces and opting for travel activities like park picnics, beach days, hikes, and walking tours to enjoy a new destination, safely."
—Gabby Beckford, travel expert and creator of travel blog Packs Light
2. What can travelers do before flying to calm fears and feel best-prepared for their flight?
"I'm seeing a lot of travel anxiety right now. We're still in a global pandemic, and it's natural to be anxious about activities we haven't done in a while, like flying, but being prepared can be helpful in easing your fears. To help, look at the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC)] travel guidelines and those of your airline, wear your mask, bring your sanitizing wipes, and bring a good book or your headphones to watch a distracting movie. You can also consider practicing grounding techniques, such as breathing into your belly, counting the lights or seats, or naming one thing noticed by each one of your five senses. Finally, focus on your destination and the temporary nature of each flight. Even if it's not a great flight, you'll soon be where you want to be."
—Elisabeth Abbott, LMFT, psychotherapist
3. What key safety-promoting items should folks pack?
"Make a checklist of the items that you need in order to enjoy yourself while being mindful of the pandemic. Be sure to include protective gear and supplies, including hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Packing the right toiletries are important because these play a huge role in your health and hygiene. Ensure that liquids, gels, and creams are all travel-friendly sizes. Try to use a clear plastic bag to pack your essentials as it will make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for in general, and at airports in case your bag gets flagged."
4. What changes should I anticipate when flying again for the first time?
"Any changes you should expect to see will definitely have to do with COVID, for example, encouraging social distancing, boarding five rows at a time, and fewer interactions in the air, like no in-flight food services or just basic snacks and water."
5. What hotel safety measures have been initiated to help keep guests safe?
"Constant hand sanitizing, all meals are served outside in the gardens, staff wears masks, all indoor public spaces have been re-organized, seats are distanced, and windows are constantly opened." [Editor's note: To understand what safety measures will be in place at your specific accommodation, call ahead of time to ask.]
6: What destinations are safest to visit right now?
"Anytime you travel on any form of public transportation, you are taking on some risk. Which destinations are considered safe is highly subjective to each person's personal standard of safety. However, to be a safe traveler, in general, is to be an informed traveler. I highly recommend travelers to visit travel.state.gov to learn about different travel advisories, required documentation, and restrictions that are put into place for various destinations.
"Overall, when traveling, always show respect to the laws of the land that you are visiting, and keep in mind that local residents and businesses are still on the edge of recovering. Remember to show others grace and be grateful for the ability to travel again."
—Shavonne Burns, an Atlanta-based flight attendant
7. What changes from pre-pandemic travel should people should anticipate for post-lockdown trips?
"The most significant changes are the freedom that vaccination cards give you—I recently had flights between Turkey, Greece, Germany, and Cyprus, and all of them specified that if you were fully vaccinated for at least two weeks, no COVID test was necessary. [Editor's note: Before travel, be sure to verify the requirements of your destination, which are all subject to change.] Other changes might include varied curfews in different places, and different masks, temperature checks, and hand-sanitizer mandates."
8. What are the most updated airline safety guidelines, and where can I find them?
"An airline’s entire business structure is built around safely getting passengers and crew to their final destination as quickly and safely as possible. This is why flight attendants are trained safety professionals, and why the Department of Transportation requires commercial airline passengers, crew, and airport employees to be screened through TSA. However, there is now a greater emphasis on your safety, extending beyond just your physical safety, but also including your health. The federal government still requires passengers and crew to wear a mask inside airports as well as on the plane. This is regardless of your vaccination status or even receiving a negative test."
9. Is travel insurance necessary?
"Travel insurance may seem unnecessary, but we strongly recommend it. Given the current state of the pandemic, insurance protects you from unexpected travel disruptions. Make sure your coverage includes emergency medical aid or evacuation. Even better if it covers cancellations. The credit card used to book your trip may already include insurance."
10. Where do I find local policies and guidelines related to COVID-19 restrictions and updates?
"I always refer clients to the CDC website, where they can be sure of accurate and up-to-date information. The CDC site has travel guidelines for U.S. and international locations, as well as a search tool that connects users with the health-department websites for their destinations for any restrictions or recommendations. Looking these up well before you travel may help you to be prepared, which can ease anxiety."
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