Most of us are staying at home. It might be because we’re under a government lockdown, quarantined because we are symptomatic, self-isolating after potential exposure, or just doing everything we can to #FlattenTheCurve. If you’re not at home, it’s most likely because you’re an essential worker keeping our society going as much as possible during the COVID crisis—thank you.
While the only safe places to travel to right now are within your own home, balcony, and backyard, this is the perfect time for travel dreaming and planning. Scroll through Instagram (search for #TravelSomeday), get trip ideas, read inspiring travel stories, and maybe take a virtual trip to your dream destination. Here’s what you need to keep in mind for post-coronavirus travel.
When to Book?
No one knows when life will get back to normal again. Health experts say that travel and physical distancing restrictions might be in place until summer and maybe longer. Until there’s a vaccine, or at least a widely-available antibody test showing who has already had COVID-19, things can’t return to normal.
It’s best to keep your travel planning fluid. There are huge deals to be had and unprecedented cancellation policies. Everyone in the travel industry could really use the reassurance that you’ll be back one day. You could book now and see what kind of changes you may (or may not) need to make later or buy a gift certificate if you’re not ready to book for a specific date yet. And don’t forget travel close to home—grab a takeout meal from a local restaurant serving Korean, Indian, or Chinese food and show your support locally and internationally.
And if you already have something booked? Here’s why you should avoid canceling your hotel room due to coronavirus.
It’s More Important Than Ever to Practice Responsible Tourism
The world relies on tourism. In 2019, tourism contributed $8.9 trillion U.S. dollars to the world’s GDP and provided one in every 10 jobs around the world. In some places, tourism accounts for half the country’s GDP. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the Maldives, the Bahamas, and Aruba are amongst the most tourism-dependent countries. Tourism is important to every nation from Costa Rica to South Africa and, of course, your home country and city.
The COVID pandemic is affecting the entire tourism industry from the big guys (airlines, cruise ships, tour companies, and hotel chains) to the tiny guys (like the street cart and family-run inns). Businesses are already laying off workers and are at risk of going bankrupt. Families are losing their incomes.
As a tourist, you can help just by spending your money and making careful choices of where and how you spend it. Your money really helps support local people who live in the destination you want to visit. Until travel starts again, hotels that support local wildlife and communities-at-risk would also welcome your donations. Some examples:
- The Vivo Foundation supports sea turtle preservation, community farming, and local youth in Mexico’s Puerto Escondido.
- The Solmar Foundation is working to help low-income communities in the Cabo San Lucas area with food, scholarships, and job training, and is helping prevent COVID infections in places without electricity and internet connectivity.
- On seven Caribbean islands, the Sandals Foundation supports education, health, and environmental initiatives via donations and 14,000 volunteers.
- You can sponsor an elephant or donate to their wellbeing via the Thai Elephant Alliance Association.
Where to Go?
- The ultimate in physical distancing destinations are private islands, like Belize’s Cayo Espanto and the two Coco Collection resorts in the Maldives.
- Hotel chains will have high standards in place for cleaning of both private and public areas, something you won’t necessarily know about for vacation rentals through organizations like Airbnb.
- It might be wise to avoid buffets for a while since so many hands touch the serving spoons, making a condo-style resort with your own kitchen ideal. Consider Ocean Club Resorts in the Turks and Caicos, Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas outside of Mexico’s Cabo, and Vivo Resorts in Puerto Escondido.
- Domestic travel is likely to restart first, especially destinations you can get to by car, as well as visiting friends and family. That’s also a help for travelers whose own wallets are affected by COVID-19 and who want to focus on affordable travel.
- Keep in mind: destinations that have not had many COVID-19 cases should be avoided for a while. There is a serious risk of travelers bringing the disease with them when they arrive.
Until you can hop on a plane, get your #TravelSomeday fix virtually via live webcams around the world. Check out this sampling:
- Go to Europe and see what’s happening live in Hvar, Croatia.
- In Asia, Thailand gives you four live streams from around the country on their Amazing Thailand Youtube channel.
- The Caribbean is calling: spend Seven Minutes in Saint Lucia on Instagram live twice a week at 11:00 eastern on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
- In the far south, check out Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia via Australis.
- Up north, watch the northern lights in Churchill, Manitoba on the Churchill Northern Studies Center’s live cam (optimal times to check are between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. eastern).
- In the U.S., enjoy Nashville’s Music City virtual attractions or, in Orlando, zipline over alligators, ride the longest and tallest rollercoaster in Orlando at Seaworld, or check out the whole range of virtual experiences on the Visit Orlando blog.
- And visit with some of Thailand’s elephants twice per day at the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation live feed.
We will travel again someday. Until then, keep tourism alive by showing your support and, if possible, by booking trips and donating money.