Everyone who loves to travel is wondering the same thing; when, where and how we can travel smart. We all know why we want to travel. But the when, where and how’s do remain a bit of an ever-changing mystery.
Let’s Take Stock of What We Know
There are so many unknowns right now about travel in the midst of the pandemic, but there are many things we do know. Wearing masks helps, social distancing works, washing your hands is critical, staying away from crowds and large gatherings just makes sense, dining al fresco is safer than sitting in a small, noisy restaurant (as the louder people speak, the more droplets they produce), and staying current on medical, travel, and other news in the destination you want to visit plus your home region, is critical.
But There’s Lots We Don’t Know (For Sure)
What’s not proven yet is how safe is flying with the new cleaning protocols and mask rules. Most people’s assumption (and it’s only an assumption) is that it’s safe. Airlines say modern planes have very well filtered, clean air thanks to HEPA filtration and their new protocols (which differ by airline but can include blocking the middle seat in economy and limited service) are designed to maintain social distancing and keep you safe. If you combine this with frequently washing your hands and using hand sanitizer, many people have felt comfortable returning to the air. However there are choke points, security screening, boarding and deplaning have still been a source of traveler complaints lately.
Also how safe are hotels? Again the industry’s assumption, based on the fact that there is so much scrutiny right now and limited occupancy, is that a well managed property should be safe. Apparently many hotels with low occupancy are leaving previously occupied rooms sit empty for 3 days before cleaning them, to help protect housekeeping staff. That seems smart. Most chains have introduced brand-wide cleaning protocols and many properties have limited or changed service based one their local rules, all with the goal is building traveler’s trust. Again, it still seems wise to bring alcohol wipes and wipe down high touch surfaces though.
And of course there are considerations with taxis, Ubers, Didis, Grabs or a hotel car getting to and from an airport, unless you rent a car, which has some of its own safety challenges. There are also concerns about using public transit in an area you are not familiar with. Most experts agree that wearing a mask, being careful not to touch surfaces and washing or sanitizing your hands frequently should make taking a cab or a Lyft manageable but, as a new rule, our teams always keep the windows rolled down for air circulation. That’s easy in the summer, maybe a little harder in the winter months.
And Lot’s We Can’t Predict
Despite the best intentions of governments, travel industry groups and employees, and a traveling public which wants to be able to get back out there, it is inevitable that there will still for the foreseeable future be closures, some activities which are banned and restrictions and perhaps disappointments. In many cases airport or hotel lounges are closed, on most flights there are extremely reduced levels service even in first or business and many regions still have limited the activities of restaurant, retail stores and attractions. So it leads to the question, is travel even worth it?
The answer is personal and also based on your destination. There’s a lot we don’t know about travel this year, but we are getting some clarity on some issues, so we now know a lot more about how we can travel smart, then we did a few months ago. Hopefully this positive trend continues.