Traveling in the “New Normal”Posted by Jelinne Navarro on
Counting down the days until this is all over?? After two months of being stuck at home, scrolling through Pinterest for vacation ideas and dreaming about your next trip, we know you just can’t wait to #travelsoon.
But given the current situation, there’s a lot to think about before planning to travel again. It will take some time before things return to the way they were. We might even have to get used to a ‘new normal.’
Yup, social distancing, travel restrictions, health and hygiene - things we didn’t have to prioritize before the pandemic - are taking the forefront. We’re hopeful for a brighter future but we also want to be prepared (we know you do too)!
Keep reading so you’ll know what to expect and for some practical tips for traveling after the pandemic.
What to Expect When Travel Resumes
While things are slowly returning to normal (ish), travel still won’t be exactly the same as we know it. Even after the lockdown is lifted, we expect that:
Many will prefer local trips
Most travelers will probably go on trips close to their home. Something like a long drive which doesn’t require flying and social distancing measures can still be followed. We will most likely see a surge in domestic travel especially road trips, staycations and RV camping.
Flights will resume slowly
Domestic flights are slowly picking up and will probably increase by June or July. And some airlines like Southwest are bringing back a few international flights next month. Aviation is one of the most badly hit industries so it will take some time before it can fully recover. But don’t worry! More and more countries are successfully flattening the curve, so we can also expect travel industries to recover ASAP.
Stricter security measures
We’re already seeing stricter security measures in airports during the pandemic. It’s possible that this will also become the ‘norm’ even after quarantine is lifted. Or more vigorous health measures like blood tests, thermal scanning, etc. will also be implemented. Therefore, going through security might take longer than we’re used to. On the other hand, there will be less travelers. Be prepared for the unknown and give yourself extra time!
There will still be some restrictions
It is very likely there will still be country-specific restrictions (depending on their risk level). Domestic travel probably won’t be as controlled. Although there could be stricter regulations at some places like museums, hair salons, restaurants, etc. where health measures like social distancing can be harder to follow.
Of course these are merely predictions - nothing’s certain especially with an ever-changing pandemic. As always, being prepared is still the best way to avoid travel stress and hassles. Adapting to this ‘new normal’ is not going to be super easy but with a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, we’re sure you got this!
Returning Back to a New Normal: Travel and Safety Tips
1. Yes, you can start planning your trips… But don’t rush into booking everything! It can be tempting to book flights or travel packages right now - especially when they’re super cheap. Consider, however, the ‘overall’ value of a $35 flight or an 80% off hotel package booked during the pandemic. What are the rules, regulations or policies of the company? Is the deal really worth it (i.e. what if it’s in a place with a lot of active cases)?
2. Book direct and refundable. That means no OTAs and Airbnbs for a while. Nothing against them! It’s just easier to deal directly with an airline or property (instead of a third party site) especially when it comes to cancellations and refunds. Since these are uncertain times, having that ‘security’ is super important!
3. Go for ‘trusted’ companies. Don’t get us wrong, we love a good deal as much as the next person… But sometimes, quality comes at a higher cost! When booking flights or hotels, research a bit about a company’s track record specifically on customer service. What if you need to reschedule your trip or worse, cancel it altogether? Pick a company that has the resources to help you out in case something goes wrong.
4. Read the fine print. Now may be a good time to go over your travel insurance policy and learn what’s actually covered. If you’re mostly traveling local (after the pandemic), then you probably won’t need comprehensive travel insurance assuming you already have health insurance. But if you have plans to travel abroad, you’ll need more coverage and the most basic travel insurance won’t cut it. You might also want to consider a company that doesn’t exclude pandemics in their policy like World Nomads.
5. Pack your own ‘Hygiene Kit.’ In our new normal, being a bit OCD about cleanliness isn’t crazy at all. Even airlines have stepped up their disinfecting game (finally!) with all that’s happening. So make some room for your new travel (or work) buddy… the Hygiene Kit!
Don’t forget the hand sanitizer, spray alcohol, mask, gloves and sanitizing wipes. Keep your essentials organized with an Extra Small Cube. It’s clear, has a zip top opening and most importantly, super easy to clean!
In fact, it’s not just TSA approved, it’s also #nurseapproved. Check out Tiffany’s story below:
"My wife Tamalyn is a nurse at UCLA Ronald Reagan, and normally we are avid travelers. During this time, to help me cope with the anxiety her job and the situation causes me, I've been streamlining and KonMari-ing our home.
One thing she always has a little difficulty with is containing her essentials bag (think eye drops, chapstick, deodorant, extra contacts, etc) and having it in an easy to use, and easy to clean package. ⠀
It used to be a fabric bag, but with her exposure now, she tries to Clorox wipe everything before she gets into it, and this EzPacking cube makes it easy to see inside, organize, and most importantly, easy to clean. ⠀
It gives my wife peace of mind, and a clean bag, after setting it down on a bathroom counter at the hospital, or in the locker room."
You can also use sanitizing wipes or alcohol (62% to 72%) to disinfect the cube (if you’re out and about).
6. Tweak your First Aid Kit. With the current pandemic, a First Aid Kit is not just an option anymore - it’s a necessity! Make sure you have everything you’ll need in case there’s an emergency AND you can’t go to the ER.
Have one ready at home or in the car using a Small Packing Cube. Then, have a smaller one with just the basics using an Extra Small Cube which you can throw in your purse or travel bag.
Some of the essentials you’ll definitely need are:
✔ Digital Thermometer
✔ Cough Drops
✔ Extra Face Mask / Gloves
7. Avoid close contact, go online! Make way for the new king: digital cash! Yup, contactless payment is the real deal and is actually becoming the new norm. And why not? It’s convenient, super easy and doesn’t require human to human contact. It’s not just payments that you can do online - you have flight check ins, reservations, yoga workouts, etc. Staying contact-less for as many parts of life as we can will help us adapt (and stay safe) in the new normal so it’s time to embrace them!
8. Allot extra time (and snacks). There’s going to be a lot of changes particularly in our airport and flying routine. Security will be much longer, the boarding process will also be stricter and new sanitizing measures will be implemented. Some airlines are even cutting down on food and beverage services offered in flights to minimize contact. So definitely consider these two things when planning your next trip.
9. Be updated. When the pandemic started spreading, many countries closed their borders and implemented full lockdowns...in a span of 48 hours! Flights were banned and as a result, lots of travelers were stranded in foreign countries unable to go home. That’s why paying attention to the local / world news before and during your trip is super important.
Pro Tip: Set up Google Alerts to get covid-related updates on your phone (you can even choose which sources you’ll get the alerts from).
10. Stay flexible. This is a fast-changing situation and we don’t really know what will happen next. It’s best to be ready for anything - flight delays, cancellations, risk of being quarantined - and to always have a Plan B.
Safe Trips You’ll Want to Plan Post Lockdown!
So where to next? You probably won’t need your little bucket list of exotic, round the world places (for now). So let’s have a little fun, shall we? Here’s our list of exciting and safe trips that you can start planning when quarantine is over:
1. Small Family Reunion - Being separated from our loved ones is the hardest part of this quarantine. Sure, we’ve been staying connected with our family through FaceTime or Zoom (anyone else sick of Zooming?)...but it’s just not the same! We’re all probably planning to see our family first thing after this lockdown. Make it a little fun though - maybe plan a backyard barbecue with the whole bunch and get ready for a whole lot of catch up!
2. Picnic by a Nearby Lake - You know we love our picnics! They’re super easy to plan and take us closer to nature. We’re also lucky because we live in a place where there are lots of areas to enjoy a picnic. Check out some of these secluded picnic spots (for our friends who are also from San Diego):
⦿ Santee Lakes - This is a short 20-minute drive from San Diego. It’s a great, lesser known picnic spot for families or couples. Perfect for a day trip and has lots of activities to keep the kids occupied (fishing, hiking, biking).
⦿ Lake Cuyamaca - This secluded lake is about an hour’s drive from San Diego. It’s a small lake but pristine and perfect for when you just want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city.
⦿ Lake Poway - Just a short 30-minute drive from San Diego! There’s a park near the lake where you can set up a picnic with the family. Lots of trails nearby as well if you’re into hiking.
3. A Scenic Drive Near the City - If #socialdistancing is your jam, why not go for a scenic drive with the fam? Perfect if you’re traveling with babies, toddlers or seniors!
Here are some of our favorite scenic drives for our friends in New York City:
⦿ Upper Delaware River - Super scenic 2-hour drive from the city! The road runs very close to the river so lots of photographic views. Perfect to visit during the summer with many animals to spot.
⦿ Caumsett State Park - Just an hour’s drive from the city, this park has the perfect mix of history, scenic views and open space. Also not so crowded so you can still follow social distancing guidelines.
⦿ Palisades Interstate Park - This is just a short 40-minute drive from the city. It’s a scenic route along the Hudson river, great for a quick road trip!
4. Sunset Camping - Looking forward to a breath of fresh air and a change of scenery? If you’re itching for a little outdoor adventure, we suggest camping. It’s local, super easy to plan and allows you to be socially distant from other people. Pick a lesser known park, beach or campground, stake your tent and enjoy the wonderful sunset views!
5. Try Out the #VanLife - Something new, perfect for families and safe! Rent a camper van, explore the great outdoors and have a fun time isolating away from home. Pro Tip: Allot a Starter Set for each member of the family to keep their essentials organized while on the road (and in the van).
We know you’re so ready for all of this to be over (we are too!). Yes, restrictions are slowly being lifted and many states are starting to reopen. But it’s important to take a step back and think about how this pandemic has changed a lot of things. So whether you’re going back to work or planning your next trip, focus on what matters the most: your safety and the safety of everyone around you!
It all comes down to being able to adapt to this new normal. We’re going to be honest, it’s going to be a little tough but not impossible. Go back to the basics - wash your hands often, maintain a safe distance from other people, etc. - and remember the awesome tips we just shared with you!
Stay safe and healthy!
- Solomon, Tali & The EzPacking Team