As a travel planner and retreat leader, I usually find myself on a plane every month or so, flying out to explore far flung places for business and pleasure. Just before the pandemic struck, I was booked to go to Marrakech, New York City, Stockholm, Paris and Lisbon – trips I was really looking forward to. I’ll be honest: COVID-19 has been terrible for business, but I have little to complain about. My family and I have our health (knock on wood) and the pandemic has given us the time to slow things down and enjoy each other’s company without the usual distractions of our everyday lives. With all the extra time on our hands, we’ve been able to rediscover old interests and explore new ones, but our itch to travel has been a constant.
We were all so optimistic about traveling this summer. Up until the beginning of June, we thought we might still be able to go on holiday to Europe. Unfortunately, with strict travel advisories and quarantine restrictions in place and the threat of a second wave hovering over us, it didn’t seem like the responsible or even safe thing to do. We considered staying at home in Toronto all summer but desperate for a change of atmosphere and armed with masks, Lysol wipes and bottles of hand sanitizer, we flew across the country to Vancouver.
I’m not sure if being 2600 miles away from home still qualifies as a “staycation” but it’s been great to stay put in Canada. We’ve hiked up mountains, rafted down white water, enjoyed meals on outdoor patios and caught up with friends and family who live here. Though it may not be the vacation we originally planned, it’s been wonderful and we know how lucky we are to have had this. It almost feels like a pre-pandemic holiday with some exceptions – and though I can’t wait to get back to life as we knew it, this “new normal” isn’t too bad.
Some things to expect or plan for while traveling during a pandemic:
- You will want to know what kinds of quarantine restrictions are in place before you go anywhere and also be prepared for these to change at any given moment. Most quarantine restrictions are for international travel but some states, provinces and regions have them even for domestic travel. Make sure you know what you’re in for to avoid any extra hassles.
- If you refuse to wear a mask, you won’t be able to fly. This is almost a standard rule now.
- You should be in the habit of buying travel insurance anyway, but if you never did so before, there has never been a better time to start.
- Nobody likes to be disappointed but if you go anywhere expecting that things may be cancelled or closed, it will soften the blow (crossing fingers you won’t even encounter this).
- There may be a bit less room for spontaneity. If you have your heart set on doing anything, make sure to book it in advance when you can. With all kinds of physical-distancing rules and safety measures in place, most travel outfitters aren’t able to accommodate as many guests as usual. This includes tours, restaurants – and even hotel pool time.
- Some things may be more expensive than they were pre-COVID but there are also some great pandemic travel deals out there (especially if you’re into cruising).
Also by Natasha: