Can we travel this summer?

Now that the weather is warming up and Covid-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders are lifting across the country, many people are antsy to get out there and travel after a brutal cooped-up spring. And while hitting the road or skies may be a good idea for both the economy and the country’s collective mental health, it’s not risk free in terms of the pandemic. So it’s more important than ever to keep safety in mind every step of the way. 

International Travel ; should we be ruling it out  this summer?

 Although most governments are still advising against “nonessential” international travel, a bunch of popular destinations are beginning to move toward welcoming tourists back. Earlier this month, the European Union unveiled an action plan to reopen its internal borders in time for summer, while countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have formed “travel bubbles,” lifting restrictions for each other’s citizens.

Cyprus, for example, is so keen to get its tourism industry back on track, officials are offering to cover the costs of any travelers who test positive for Covid-19 while on vacation in the Mediterranean island nation – we’re talking lodging, food, drink and medication for tourists who are taken ill with coronavirus during their visit. Officials have also earmarked a 100-bed hospital for foreign travelers who test positive, while a 500-room “quarantine hotel” will be available to patients’ family and “close contacts.

And Greece where tourism accounts for almost 20% of its gross domestic product, as well as one in five jobs, is angling to reopen to tourists as soon as it possibly can. The European country, which managed to keep its coronavirus case numbers low by implementing a strict lockdown early on, plans to allow travelers back in on June 15. The tourism period begins on June 15, when seasonal hotels can reopen. International flights to Greek destinations will slowly resume from July 1, and tourists will no longer be expected to take a Covid-19 test or go into quarantine on arrival – however it has been indicated that health officials will conduct spot tests when necessary.

France however is taking a more community based approach by encouraging toursim but only within their country for now. France was the most visited country in the world before the coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe recently announced a $19.4 billion stimulus package to boost its ailing tourism sector but it does seem like the priority for now is on French residents taking holidays within France during the peak times of July and August, as all signs suggest international travelers will not be able to enter for the foreseeable future.

Ultimately there will be plenty of internatinal destinations opening borders as we hit end of June into July – but you need to do your research and take precautions.

What about domestic travel?

Right now states are in flux in terms of things opening up, and as such we don’t know exactly what summer travel will look like, but one thing is certain – you can expect change. Some countries and U.S. states have already begun relaxing their stay-at-home orders, while others are extending their lockdowns by weeks.

Rental houses will be on the rise. This is a a good option because you can clean the rental  when you arrive and then you have full control. Some rental companies like Airbnb have rolled out stricter cleaning protocols to ensure the safety of both guests and hosts, so be sure to read up on your rental company of choice’s policy.  It is likely that rentals will out perform hotels in the near-term as travelers attempt to avoid interactions with strangers, so if you have a domestic destination in mind, plan ahead and do your research.

As for driving versus flying, traveling by airplane is much higher risk than traveling by car with your family.  If you do fly, again keep in mind that international travel is much riskier this summer than domestic travel. Wear your mask, bring your own food and drinks, wear gloves in the bathroom, avoid sitting close to someone, wash or sanitize your hands as much as you can and be mindful of your entire environment. You might also want to consider taking out travel insurance or protection plans in case you get sick abroad. 

Look at destinations that are spread out, not densely populated like a city. This goes hand in hand with taking a community based approach; the deal is that once you are comfortable within your own community, you can decide what is most critical for you as you travel farther from home. And when you do travel consider who you are traveling with and who you are traveling to. Maybe planning a trip to see family should be a priority this summer versus going on a city break.

Make sure you also plan ahead of time. Have a strategy; think about exactly where you’re planning to go, exactly how you’re planning to get there, and what exactly you will do once you arrive. Because all 50 states are reopening at different rates, be sure to factor that information into your choices.