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Tips for travelling during a pandemic

Some say travelling during a pandemic is unethical. If that’s you, please read no further. However if travelling is the thing you live for, you have to find ways to keep feeding that addiction. It is perfectly possible to do so without breaking any laws or without endangering anybody’s life more than when you would have stayed at home. Almost a year after my trip to the Central African Republic got Covid-cancelled, I managed to do 3 longer trips and am to embark on another one next week. I also did multiple day and weekend trips in 4 different countries.

Find below my Top Tips for Travelling during a pandemic – may it at least be a historical record of the strange things I did to keep on travelling during Covid-19. already in the summer of 2020 had a highly efficient entry system based on testing

Seize the moment

Pandemics come and go in waves. The trick is to seize the right moment for travelling – start scouting for destinations when the country you live in is high on the wave. Make a shortlist of about 3 suitable destinations that are likely to be open without too many restrictions (these are often the countries that heavily rely on tourism for their economy; another good bet is former colonies/overseas departments).

When the wave is on its way down be prepared to book and leave within a month or so. When you expect a longer low period, book multiple trips in short succession. Don’t leave it too long between booking and departure as rules on either side of the border may change suddenly and you have to do your homework all over again.

Germany was the star of tracking&tracing, even wanted you to write down your contact details while sitting alone with a cappuccino

Pick one country

Last September I did a trip to Nice, Corsica and Sardinia. Three regions, two countries. That was not the greatest idea, as I had to deal with three different and constantly changing sets of Covid regulations and entry limitations. That means a lot of Googling in the evening hours and readjusting your itinerary! If you pick just one country you’ll have less complications and less worries when on the road. Federal countries (think of Germany, Mexico, USA) often have different rules per state, so then the trick is to pick one state. Oh, and check whether that one country has ample ways of getting in and out, also via neighbouring countries – not just that one weekly flight to Paris.

Do research the practical limitations

You don’t want to just travel, you have to visit places such as WHS and TWHS as well. It is important to check whether sites are open at all. Some also may have special entrance restrictions such as a limited number of visitors per day or require pre-booking online. In my experience facebook pages of sites are often more up to date than generic websites. Expat websites can be a good source to see which way things are heading at your destination, as they will present you the local grapevine in English. Tripadvisor forums specific to a country can also be a good bet.

Did some public transport in Curacao, though you keep hoping that not too many people will join you in the bus

Stick to the generic measures and rules

Social distancing and staying outdoors as much as possible are the easiest to follow generic anti-virus measures. That means avoiding being in confined spaces with lots of unknown people, such as using public transport or joining group tours. Nature focused destinations also are more appropriate than cultural city trips. Familiarize yourself with what the local rules are, both in theory and in practice. 

And just do it. Not that much has changed and travel can be as pleasant as it was before. There are a couple more things to consider beforehand, but in return you will be at less crowded places.

Els - 14 March 2021

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Nan 15 March 2021

I have two weeks off prior to Easter... Resturlaub (leftover vacation days) from 2020. And no travel plans.

My takeaway from the year:

* Dont save travel days. Spend them when opportunities present themselves.

* No need and no point to plan further ahead than a few weeks/a month. Flight prices remain low in any case.

* Seize the moment when an opportunity presents itself. I hitched a plane to Norway short notice when the country opened up in summer. And left one week before it closed down again.

* Agreeing with Jarek: Always book with the airline. Expedia never refunded me and there was simply no way of reaching them.

I still hope that in summer the situation will clear up a bit. Right now, I am a bit at a loss what destinations are possible at all.

Jarek Pokrzywnicki 14 March 2021

The biggest problem for me are cancelled flight. Had already several cases (in 2020 domestic flight in Brazil, Ryanair European flights, flights to Cuba, in 2021 - they also cancelled my journey to Canada in May - yes, I bet that pandemia would end earlier). My experience so far is like this. It is much better to buy tickets directly through airline than a via an agent who after a cancellation is difficult to contact. Well an airline is also difficult to contact but at least any arrangments with them are valid.

Michael Ayers 14 March 2021

And, expect to encounter unusual events at some point.

For example, before I entered Togo I installed that country's tracking app on my Android tablet, as required. Though the connection was not obvious at the time, that app caused the tablet's USB port to stop functioning for anything, except charging, which was a big inconvenience. Doing a Hard Reset did not solve the issue, nor did uninstalling the app when I left the country. Two months later I needed to transit through Togo again, so I had to install that app once more. Upon departure, when I uninstalled that app for a second time, the port miraculously started working normally again. Go figure.

It also helps if you have already recovered from covid-19. ;-)