Navigating the world right now is anything but easy, and one of the industries that changes the most by the day is the world of travel. So, as it is my favourite topic, let’s talk travel.
We all saw off 2020 with the contempt it deserved, looking forward to a much brighter new year only to have our hopes quickly dashed when we realized 2021 was really 2020’s bigger and older brother coming in to show his little bro really how it’s done. We may be crushed but we are not beaten yet and as an industry travel and tourism is fighting back with all its strength and coming up with great ideas and innovative solutions to get us all back in the air at 36,000 feet.
We have gone through a lockdown, to strict rules and guidelines, and when we thought it was over, to another lockdown. No matter where you live in the world, each day brings surprises of sorts. Rules change by the minute, and travelers and the industry alike are reeling from the grip of COVID-19.
The pandemic has negatively affected every industry, but it has badly hammered the $1.5 trillion-dollar global tourism industry. Airlines and hotels are closing, and many are laying off staff and cutting back on services, and scores of travelers are stuck at home living on “hopeium” as a means to combat cabin fever. Then there are those travelers who are still stuck abroad in the wake of the latest COVID-19 testing rules.
But for those of you who long for travel, or who own a travel business, #wegotthis. Travel is going to explode once the dust settles from the pandemic, but before you call your travel agent and pack your bags for your next adventure, I wanted to share my own pre-trip checklist and give you some insights on what you need to know for your next travel adventure in 2021.
Is your passport up to date?
Open up that passport and make sure it’s valid for 2021. The renewal time is delayed and even rush-services may take 6 to 8 weeks. The solution: if you are traveling abroad within 72 hours, contact your local passport office and make arrangements for application. Be patient too, the phone lines are busy.
Do your research: Get up to date alerts on travel advisories
Before you plan to jet-off on your next big adventure, make sure you do your homework. That is, check out The Official Global Travel Advisories-Government of Canada website for alerts on entry requirements to other countries and even entry requirements coming back home. It is important to start booking all future travel with a certified travel agent, and even better an ACTA member agent. They will advise you on everything you need to know before heading to the airport. Travel agents have never been so valuable as they are now and are a wealth of information and will give you the “temperature” on travel advisories, rules, guidelines, health and safety tips, and they will also fill you in on logistics and what to expect abroad. If you are heading to Singapore via Frankfurt, what do you need to know during the layover? A travel agent is your best go-to-professional during these times of uncertainty.
Have your trip protected
Your next big trip is also a big investment, so ensure you have the right travel insurance before hitting the departure zone. The popular term for this is “cancel for any reason travel insurance” that will help protect you in the event of a job loss, family emergency, or even new quarantine restrictions. Some airlines are even including COVID-Insurance, but you may need to top the cover-up to include other medical and trip cancellation needs.
Yes, air travel is very safe
The commercial airlines have been cleared for take-off ever since the pandemic turned our world upside down, thanks to new innovations on the health and safety front. When you board a plane, you now have that true peace of mind knowing that they have spent millions on newest safety measures and are all equipped with the best air filtration systems, and enhanced cleaning with germicidal electrostatic sprayers are helping keep passengers safe. In fact, airplanes and airports are considered one of the safest places to be at the moment, a fact supported by scientific studies and as a result of the efforts of passengers who wear masks and practice handwashing and social distancing.
- Tampa International Airport was a first to offer its very own COVID-19 testing facility right at the airport, a move that has been adopted at other big airports, like JFK, Newark, and Boston.
- Then there is Singapore’s Changi Airport that is touchless – from check-in to boarding. They are even utilizing facial recognition to replace fingerprint scanning, and now remote screening for passengers’ temperatures.
- At Denver International Airport, travelers don’t need to worry about the long lines like they used to. Now passengers can book a 15-minute appointment to bypass TSA screening lanes through the VeriFLY app. And then, they board a “limited-capacity train car” for quick access to the concourse.
Heading on a cruise in 2021?
This past fall, a “no-sail” order was put in place in many countries, which has deeply affected the large cruise line business. Why not try the smaller ones? River Cruise company AMA Waterways has been operating successfully and totally safely throughout this pandemic and have adopted new technologies and best practices to meet the rigorous health requirements.
Smaller cruises stay only on the rivers, social distancing is in place everywhere, capacity is already low with space per person high, but they reduced this even further. There are no self-service buffets, and you will need to wear a mask everywhere you go publicly – from your room to the upper deck, no exceptions to the rule.
How you will have more of everything and the scoop on post-pandemic travel
Small-escorted groups will be popular, and the good news is that this is my favourite specialty. I will be personally hosting at least 6 tours this year, starting in the summer and will post on my website. Joining me on one of my tours is like travelling with your own private butler, so if we come upon any unexpected issues, I am right there to take care of them with you! I will be taking small groups to the hills of Scotland and the lakes of Northern England, then to Tuscany and the lake district of Lake Garda in Italy, A river cruise for Christmas Markets and even an off the beaten path trip to Kenya. Spaces are very limited so send me an email and I will keep you posted.
The new hotels of the future
Hotels will still look the same, outside and inside, but you will notice how they will be operated differently. The front desk staff, who are normally there to greet you on arrival, will be smaller in numbers as contactless check-ins and payments and keyless guest room access are now being utilized, and even room service at some hotels and resorts is being performed by robots. More guests will turn to in-room dining service for health and safety reasons, so the dining rooms and bar areas will be much quieter.
Then there are the fitness centres at hotels and resorts: only a small number of guests will be able to use them, and guests at select hotels now have access to virtual fitness classes that are viewed on a full-length mirror in their room.
Get home safely
Before flying back home, make sure you know about vaccination and quarantine rules. Still, if you travel abroad, staying on the down-low for at least 10 days helps keep people safer in the event you contracted COVID-19. Even getting a COVID-19 test on your return.
Wherever you go, wash your hands frequently and wear a mask at all times in public places (indoors and outdoors), and monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms.
Travel will be different now and well into the future.
But if we can adapt to lockdowns, we can certainly adapt to change.