When the international COVID pandemic hit in March, 2020, the world was forced to press pause and stay home to stop the spread of infection. This had a huge impact on our way of life, and our industries. The travel and hospitality industry was among the hardest hit. New data from Tourism Economics shows that, "without immediate aid, 50% of all travel-supported jobs in the US will be lost by December—an additional loss of 1.3 million jobs." Finding safe ways to restore this industry is essential. This holiday season families will have to make the best decisions for themselves and for some this means staying home, and for others this might mean traveling. Regardless of what your deck of cards may look like, we are all living in this pandemic together so we've been doing some research on ways we can continue to make intentional and meaningful memories this holiday season. Whether you're driving a few hours to go camping or planning a trip overseas, today we're sharing some helpful travel tips and takeaways to keep you safe and healthy this holiday season.
1) DON'T FORGET YOUR MASK. We know, you should know this but it's worth repeating. Wearing a mask is one of the simplest and easiest ways to keep friends, family and strangers safe from the novel coronavirus. Wear a mask, save a life. Should you accidentally leave home without your mask, you won't have to go far to score one; most grocery, drug stores and gas stations sell them. However, we recommend stocking up on patterns and colors that bring you joy. Support makers in your neighborhood, shop independant artists on Etsy, or check out some of our faves at Lost & Wander, Claire and Clara, and Saint Ola.
2) DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE. This may also seem like an obvious tip at this stage of our pandemic, but it's a very important one and if followed will slow the spread. If you never touch your facial mucous membranes, you’re less likely to be sick again from any viral respiratory infection.
Face-touching is not an easy habit to break, according to the Behavior Insights Team, a public-private partnership in the United Kingdom that advises governments and others on how to change social habits. When it comes to face touches, the team recommends three strategies:
- Using a tissue or, at the least, the back of our hands or arms, to scratch an itch on our faces.
- Asking a loved one or pal to say something when they see us touching our faces unconsciously. We need to consider what triggered the touch to make us more aware.
- Creating a habit that makes us less likely to touch our faces. For example, keeping our hands in our pockets or keeping them busy with a stress ball or string of beads.
If you want to go the tissue route, we love these Tree Free Pocket Tissues from Public Goods.
3) CLEAN EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU TOUCH. More specifically, use an eco-friendly surface cleaner without harsh chemicals on anything you touch, before you touch it. Cleaning surfaces will help protect you from coming into contact with anything nasty, but it's important that you choose your cleaner wisely. It needs to be safe for other people (think: kids, pets) to come into contact with, won't pollute the environment and, to save time, won't require you to wipe it off. We are of course partial to our all-natural cleaning solutions and highly recommend our Clean Republic On-The-Go Everyday Cleaner - it does not contain harsh chemicals or produce toxic fumes, it's eco-friendly, safe to use around anyone, and does not need to be wiped.
4) STAY AWAY FROM LARGE GROUPS. In other words, travel with a small group and during "shoulder seasons." Not only will staying away from crowds make traveling safer for you, it's also more enjoyable! By booking with a tour company like UNCOVR, which emphasizes slow, sustainable travel that truly embraces culture, you can expect a unique experience. According to founder Jason Wertz, “As a tour operator, I think it’s our responsibility to help expand people’s places of interest. Travelers get more personalized treatment because there are fewer people and we’re able to spread the economic resources to more people where normally they wouldn’t have a job.”
5) WASH YOUR HANDS. A lot. Like, a lot a lot! And when you don't have a sink and soap handy, you may use Clean Republic's non-toxic, medical grade Hand Cleanser. It's designed to clean your hands with convenience - just like washing your hands, but without water and soap. It cleans your hands without skin drying alcohol, and oxygenates to increase natural hydration.
6) DO YOUR RESEARCH. This is for everyone, but especially if you have a US passport. With US coronavirus cases around the 7.9 million mark, many nations continue to view America with trepidation. The European Union has omitted the United States from its list of countries whose tourists may visit. Some countries are even going so far as to limit US travelers by which state they are traveling from. Do your research by checking the government website of wherever you are planning to travel, and the US Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs website for US travel restrictions and recommendations.
7) COVID TESTING. Many countries require a negative coronavirus test for entry, and it needs to be in real time. This means that the country will determine how recent the test needs to be, between 3-5 days is common, for you to gain entry. Keep in mind that, depending on where you are traveling, you could be en route for multiple days! You'll have to plan to get a "RT-PCR" covid test close enough to your travel that the results will still be valid upon your arrival, but early enough to ensure you'll receive your results before you leave.
8) FIND OUT IF YOU NEED A VISA. Many countries require you to have a visa in order to gain entry, and the process for qualification varies greatly. For some countries, you'll need to apply ahead of time and get approval before you travel. For other countries, you can purchase a visa once you arrive! It's always important to make sure you figure this out before traveling, but especially during covid times.
9) CHECK YOUR PASSPORT. Make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months from when you plan to arrive back home. Things are moving a lot slower right now, so if you need to get your passport renewed by mail, be sure to get that process started as far in advance as you can.
10) EXPLORE LOCALLY. If any of this intimidates you in the slightest, consider exploring near your home rather than traveling abroad or via airplane. You might be surprised by all the new and exciting things you discover without having to travel very far at all. Plan a road trip, go camping, visit a spa, or rent an RV - the options are endless. We highly recommend checking out Outdoorsy, the most comprehensive platform for outdoor travelers to rent stylish awesome RVs in the nation. Their selection spans vintage Airstreams, toy haulers, fifth wheelers, Class A, B, and C of RVs, as well as garden variety trailers and motorhomes.
The bottom line is to do your research and to plan out your trip as thoroughly as you can to make sure that things operate smoothly. And, if you're able, consider booking through an agency like UNCOVR so you have the power of travel experts spurring you along. Just remember that whether you're holiday'ing at home, road tripping or planning more extensive travel, we are all in this together, and as such we need to look out for each other. This is why we wear masks. We want to encourage you to look for the moments you can find a little normalcy as this is important for mental health. You might be wearing a mask, and (hopefully) carrying your Clean Republic, but you can still make new memories this holiday season. They might look different, but they can be intentional and meaningful and we would argue, memories you won't soon forget.