Updated on September 7th, 2020
How can we feel confident to travel when there is a global pandemic? Here I give my top tips to travel safely during COVID 19. This is for anyone considering getting away at this current time, including where to go, what to take, where to stay, where to eat & the questions you need to be asking.”
Wherever you feel comfortable. For me, this is planning for a staycation road trip to Scotland.
I don’t know about you, but this pandemic has affected me in many different ways. Thankfully I have managed to stay well, along with all my loved ones. Some of you may be reading this having survived a health battle, some may be grieving for a loved one, others still in the grip of lockdown. I decided to write this post about what happens next. I am a traveller. After 30 years & over 70 countries, it’s in my blood. But the world has changed & I have done a lot of soul searching, listening to experts & decided that I am not ready to finish my journey quite yet.
So, the question is, how can we stay safe travelling during a global pandemic? Here I give you the big questions I have asked myself & the decisions I have made while planning my first foray into the big wide world again.
I have faced 3 months of lockdown in a flat living alone. I am super cautious about taking my next tentative steps. If you feel the same, then please read on.”
Also, I have an interview with my friend who runs a guesthouse in Yorkshire UK to share over the next few weeks. She gives some great insight into the impact that COVID 19 has had on her business. I found this incredibly reassuring & I believe you will too. In addition, you can check this link for the current UK government guidelines.
Top Tips To Travel Safely During COVID 19
The first thing goes without saying, ONLY TRAVEL IF YOU & EVERYONE YOU DECIDE TO GO WITH IS WELL. If anyone has symptoms, stay at home. This is all about protecting each other. If anyone gets sick while you are away, are you confident about how you would get medical attention?
Second, also goes without saying, make sure you have comprehensive, COVID inclusive travel insurance. If you need that medical assistance while you are away are you covered? How about if anything means you have to cancel?
Now we have those 2 biggies out of the way…here we go
Is it safe to travel?
Obviously, this depends on where you are planning to go. If they are in the middle of a first or second wave, then NO! If they appear to have things under control, maybe. The travel & leisure industry is on its knees. They need our support & our money. The more we can travel as soon as it’s safe, the more choices we will have in the future.
Before you leave home, make sure you understand the rules for your destination. What is open? What is & isn’t allowed? Will you need to quarantine on your return? Are masks required & if so, where?
Where to go?
Do you feel safe flying? This is a very big question & I have made the decision that for me, this is not yet. Maybe I’ve been tainted by my experience in the USA when everything was kicking off. The plan was a fun road trip enjoying live music around Nashville, Memphis & New Orleans. The reality turned into a rush to get home. I made it out on one of the last flights. It was full. If there was ever a time when I may have caught the virus it would be then. Therefore, I am a bit cautious.
You may be able to go, but what if you need to quarantine when you get back? Be prepared & expect things to change. It will be your choice to travel so you need to take responsibility for the consequences.
How are you going to get around once you arrive? Hire a car? Public Transport? Drive your own vehicle? Obviously public transport will involve more preparation than usual. Consider booking tickets online, wearing a mask at all times & travelling during non-busy periods. Do not use it during rush hour.
Outdoors or indoors?
I know many of my fellow Brits cannot wait to hit the beach & I feel the same. However, this year I have decided to give it a miss. I plan to spend most of my time outdoors. Walking & enjoying the countryside are number one on my agenda. Being outside is so much lower risk than indoor activities.
See more of my first trip: Things To Do in The Trossachs – A One Day Road Trip
Is it open?
Make sure you check before you travel that all places you are planning to visit during your trip are actually open. Also, become acquainted once again with their requirements. Expect everything to turn on a pin. You may do all your research & then get there to find it is actually closed. Things can change…quickly. If this experience has taught us anything it is that! Have a plan but expect that you may be disappointed.
This is the BEST time to visit that place you have always wanted to go. Within reason. In particular, staying close to home, maybe all the tourists have always put you off? Now is your time! I visited London the other day. I have never seen the Millennium Bridge so empty or Borough Market deserted. The upside was having these icons almost to myself. The bad thing was that a lot of restaurants were still closed. This made finding somewhere to eat a little more challenging than expected.
Who are you going with?
This blog is for all those amazing women who may be considering going it alone! If you choose to go solo then obviously you know where you have been, who you have been in contact with & how well you feel to take the trip. You may choose to join another household group. Why don’t we call them a friend? 😉
In terms of travel safety tips I think it is essential that you only do this with someone who you fully trust. Everything you both do for at least a week before you leave, should be with each other at the forefront of your mind. Your actions could directly affect the health & wellbeing of your friend. I suggest you make an upfront agreement of what you feel is acceptable for each of you. Be honest & open.”
Where to stay?
How do you know if it’s clean enough?
My go-to thought process is that all hotels, Airbnb’s, guesthouses, hostels & everywhere else desperately need our business. Nowhere can afford to go back to closing again. Therefore, they need to make sure that they have new systems in place to guarantee their cleanliness & safety. I had a really interesting chat with my friend who owns some holiday let properties. As previously mentioned, I will be sharing my interview with her next week. It gave me a huge amount of reassurance & respect for everything they have gone through.
The first on my list was how clean was the place before all this happened? If they had attention to detail prior to the pandemic, then they will be reliable afterwards. For most online booking systems there is a cleanliness rating clearly displayed. The dilemma I had was between smaller independently run properties & big chains. Usually, I prefer to support smaller providers, but another friend had some safe travel advice to share.
The Premier Inn Chain in the UK have been housing Drs & nurses during this torrid time. The cleaning routines will be well established now & clearly working. Needless to say, we have booked a number along our road trip route.”
Read the Reviews
This goes for restaurants as well as accommodation. Recent reviews have never been more important. For accommodation in the UK, they may have been open up until March. If they have reviews from then, you can take these as accurate. For restaurants, I would only really trust reviews from the latest month (July). Obviously, these dates may change depending on your destination & when they went into lockdown.
For me, the days of booking the least flexible & cheapest rates are over. Make sure you are clear on the cancellation policies & are comfortable with the notice period & level of compensation. If you can’t afford to lose the money, then my advice would be to choose an alternative.
Another of my traveller’s safety tips is to call ahead if you need further reassurance. Ask them what they are doing to ensure cleanliness. If they are happy to share their new processes, then you can guarantee they are proud of them. If they do not readily give you much, maybe try another establishment. They will also provide information on changes in policy to manage your expectations. For example, a place I have booked is currently not providing breakfast. They serve on a communal table which is impossible under the current social distancing guidelines.
On arrival, you will immediately get a feel for how clean & efficient the place is. The biggest challenge for any premises will be communal areas. How comfortable do you feel about the state they are in? If you are not happy, you can leave. In terms of your room, take some antibacterial spray or wipes & clean off all surfaces for your own peace of mind. Maybe ask for things like tea & coffee, or shampoos etc to be removed. In addition, as long as nobody is coming into the room to clean, you will not need to repeat this process each time you return. Therefore, ask at check-in to be left during your stay.
Where to eat & drink?
The days of strolling in to somewhere you like the look of are potentially behind us, hopefully at least for now. Therefore, a similar level of stringency needs to be applied wherever you decide to eat.
One of my tips for safe travel is to consider self-catering accommodation. This will also save money if you can cook for yourself. The same rules apply regarding the comfort you feel about all the cutlery & crockery provided. Wash everything you are going to use when you arrive, just in case.
Check it out first
Booking ahead is going to become the norm for all of us, at least for a while. If you like the look of a place, inspect it before you book a table. This way you can be sure that you are comfortable with the social distancing measures for tables. You will also be able to see their policy for masks. Are they are being worn by employees?
Why not see if you can use the toilet? A friend of mine has always worked on a theory that the state of the toilet will reflect the state of the kitchen. If they are clean, then chances are the rest of the place is.”
Think about it & try not to reflect on some of the horrific facilities you may have used on past travels ;).
I’ve mentioned before the importance of checking reviews. Now it is essential. All establishments should be asking for your details to allow contact tracing. Are they? Will they? Checking this as part of the booking process will again help to put your mind at rest.
What do I need to take?
If the last few months have taught us anything, it’s not to take things for granted. All items that you know you will need, please take with you. In addition, ensure you have enough to last for the full length of your trip. If you have opted for a road trip, then make sure you have a “car kit” too.
Take a number of facemasks. Many advisors say you should wash the cloth ones after each use. When travelling, this may not be such an easy option. Get your hands on some disposable ones too, just in case. Also, consider the type you have. I read recently that the masks with valves have now been banned on one US airline, so others may follow. They apparently protect the wearer, but not other people from the wearer.
- Neck scarf
Take a neck scarf just in case you forget your mask if you are not expecting to have to enter a building.
If gloves make you feel more comfortable, take them with you particularly for situations like refilling petrol.
- Hand sanitizer
We know that hand sanitizer can be gold dust right now! Have plenty of supplies.
- Antiseptic Spray & Wipes
So, there you have it. My safety tips for travelling during COVID 19 & our current uncertain circumstances. As I have said, I have chosen to take a staycation road trip around the Scottish Highlands with a friend. I will let you know how we go…
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