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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Grateful Traveler: Touring Our New Reality

A peek into how we’ll start to navigate travel in the post-COVID era.

Even as our quarantine restrictions begin to lift, the COVID-19 pandemic has left travel at a precipice. For the foreseeable future, the world in which we travel will be smaller, both in area and scope. So navigating this new reality will demand patience and planning.
As a travel writer, I have found that one of the silver linings of the pandemic has been the cultivation of calm. No doubt as most of my fellow travelers know, pre-COVID-19 travel often found us in a rush—whether it be to drop off our pets at daycare before a day trip, or the car at an off-airport lot before a longer adventure. We’d run around, frantically, pledging to ourselves (again and again) that we’d plan ahead better the next time, promise.

Now, it seems, we have all the time in the world—plus, this time around, our health depends on it. As we begin to tip-toe back into the world of travel, let’s take a look at what it’s going to look like for the near future.

Relish in the Planning
I have always sensed that, like me, most travelers relish the planning process as much as the actual excursion itself. So now that you might not know when you’ll actually be able to take the trip you’re planning, let’s put that to the test. It is so engaging to sit in front of the computer with endless possibilities in front of you. Recognize what you enjoy and create an itinerary that highlights just that. Are you outdoorsy? Do you love fitness and hiking? Are you a foodie? Whether your first post-pandemic adventure will be closer to home or an extended road trip across the country, let your wish list be your GPS. Then, bookmark it all for later. If your comfort level allows “later” to be “sooner,” make sure you are up to speed on when certain states—and in the case of New York, specific regions—are reopening restaurants, hotels and tourist spots before you actually start booking.

Pack With Safety in Mind
We’ll be packing hand sanitizer for a long time, so make sure to shop ahead for enough of it to last for your entire trip. Also, make sure to bring bleach wipes, especially for wiping down surfaces at hotels and rental homes; and be sure to have face masks and a box of thin latex gloves on hand, if you’re planning on spending any time in public. You’ll be hand-washing your masks in the sink unless you find a place with laundry, so if you have ones that dry faster than others, grab those–and make sure you bring a few backups. You can bring your own linens, toiletries and essentials to mitigate infection concerns, too. Yes, hotels and rental properties will share the same sanitation concerns you do, but it’s your family’s safety in play here, so spend a few more minutes wiping everything down to give yourself the peace of mind you deserve. And if you brave an airplane, wipe down every last inch of the tray and armrests with disposable wipes!

Be Your Own ‘Pilot’
With many travelers still wary of air, bus and train travel, jumping in the family car and/or renting an RV are going to be two hot summer options. You know your own car, so make sure you choose a destination that doesn’t involve rugged driving, if you don’t own an SUV. In terms of an RV, do your research and choose one that is large enough to accommodate your crew but manageable enough for the roads you wish to travel. Gas prices are hitting record lows, so a road trip could be a lot easier on your wallet, too.

Pause Your World Travel Plans (For Now)
At some point, you’ll be able to travel abroad again, but it’ll be months—possibly, years even—before travel bans are fully lifted and travelers feel comfortable venturing outside of the US. Once restrictions begin to ease, the Caribbean and other open-air locales, which offer fresh air and wide-open spaces, are expected to be very popular. It will be some time before we can ride the Venetian canals or climb the Eiffel Tower again, though. Patience and proper planning will help fill our travel voids. And remember: We are all in this together. The sooner we all follow the proper protocols, the sooner we will get back to jet-setting normalcy.

Vikki Moran
Vikki Moran
Vikki Moran is a travel writer and the founder of the Grateful Traveler.

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