After spending almost all of 2020 under varying degrees of lockdown restrictions due to COVID-19, many people are eagerly planning their next trips for when the pandemic is over. While the CDC is still cautioning against non-essential travel, which includes both domestic and international travel, the arrival of a vaccine has created new optimism that we may be able to get back on a plane safely for leisure travel sooner rather than later.
If you’re hoping to head off on an adventure, you should take time to educate yourself on how to be safe and responsible when you’re traveling. Whether you’re an amateur jet-setter or preparing for a family trip, read on for four smart travel tips worth following.
1. Make plans, but leave room for improvisation.
It’s important to have a general idea of what you want to do when you travel, but creating an itinerary that’s too restrictive can prevent you from exploring and having some spontaneous fun. If there are any activities you want to participate in that require a ticket or a reservation, it’s best to plan ahead, but leave yourself some unscheduled time, so you can take advantage of the ability to try something different. Some frequent flyers even recommend buying nothing more than a one-way ticket and a few nights of accommodation and winging it from there. While that mindset isn’t for everyone, it underscores the value in improvising a bit when you’re on a trip.
2. Purchase travel insurance.
Nobody expects for anything to go wrong when they travel, but it’s always smart to be prepared. You’d be surprised at the number of issues that travel insurance can help with, from assisting in overseas medical emergencies to covering loss of luggage. Many insurance policies also cover cancellation fees, expenses caused by a travel delay, and loss of travel documents like passports or identification cards. Considering travel is ultimately supposed to be enjoyable, it’s worth the peace of mind that insurance provides, even if you never actually need it.
3. Try unique activities and experiences.
Whether it’s trying an outdoor activity or learning a craft, travel is for experiences you wouldn’t be able to have at home. You might discover your passion when you least expect it if you try new things. No matter where you go, there are traditions, and while social media has made it seem like the most important thing on vacation is to take photos to share with your friends, it’s the memories of your vacation that will last for the rest of your life.
4. Eat local food.
Too many people stick to fast food or meals that are similar to what they would order at home, even when they’re traveling on the other side of the world. One of the most exciting things about travel is being able to experience new cultures and types of cuisine, even if it’s something you’ve never heard of before. Food is one of the best ways to get to know a new place. While you should be cautious if you have known allergies or food sensitivities, you’ll miss out on so many amazing dishes if you refuse to engage with the local food culture at all.
Even though it’s best not to travel right now, if you have to, it’s necessary that you review all current health and safety protocols and restrictions. The U.S. Department of State and the CDC have put out guidance with regard to travel about the self-quarantine requirement, a list of current travel advisories, and plenty of information on where you can obtain COVID-19 test if you’re concerned you may have contracted the virus. Once the travel restrictions around the globe loosen up, it’s likely we’ll see many people eager to get back on a plane as soon as they can. Still, while fun is always the goal on a vacation, it’s easier to relax and enjoy yourself when you’re prepared and take proper precautions to protect you from some of the more common hazards of traveling.