If you're a solo traveler like me who is always itching to catch a flight, you probably feel like COVID just did away with all your travel dreams. I am sure you feel restricted AF. As a Sagittarius, I don't do well with restriction. I was so ready to be more adventurous this year too. I was planning to go to Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. But those plans came to an indefinite pause because of this never-ending pandemic. Scrolling through my Instagram feed, I was lowkey jealous of travelers that were stuck in countries like Bali, or Thailand. I mean, who wouldn't want to be stuck in paradise during a pandemic? A girlfriend of mine has been living in Portugal since the beginning of COVID not knowing when she can come home. Believe me, she is more than OK with the uncertainty of it too.
With random flight cancellations, mask requirements, and temperature checks, I am sure you are wondering what travel will look like for 2021. Well, let me just say if you love to fly, travel is about to be a whole damn process. And I know a good portion of us are willing to go through that process because we desperately need a redo of 2020. The travel industry got an unwanted makeover that none of us asked for. But there is confidence that travel will increase in 2021 as most of us either chose not to travel at all or postponed pre-planned vacations, weddings, honeymoons, anniversaries, and birthday trips.
In 2021, you can still live your best travel life, but it is not without a few caveats and new travel trends.
Pre-Travel Requirements Are Here To Stay
Mexico and Colombia are open to tourism with the minimal requirement of a face mask and social distancing in public places. Countries like Trinidad are still on lockdown, and other countries are allowing foreign nationals to visit with restrictions. Not only are we required to wear face masks, social distance, and quarantine at our destination city, we are required to show proof of a negative COVID test for entry. I hate to pick on Jamaica, but because I will be traveling there soon, their government requires visitors to provide a copy of a negative COVID test that is less than 10 days old from the date of travel. Visitors must also request approval for entry into Jamaica via an online form five days before their arrival date.
Other countries like Egypt require a negative COVID test result 72 hours before their departure flight. And there is a high possibility travel insurance may become mandatory. While you have the option to take the PCR or antigen test, the PCR test is the universal standard and recommended. So, if you plan to travel internationally, check the visitor requirements for your destination country to avoid delays, and denied entry.
Staycations In Your Home City Or State Are Where It's At
If international travel isn't something you're ready for this year, a staycation in your home city or state is where it's at. Because of the stay-at-home orders or state lockdowns, many travelers used the quarantine to explore their own hood.
Believe it or not, there are places you have yet to see or experience right in your own backyard. And now is the time to do it. The good thing is by choosing a staycation, travelers are supporting local Airbnbs, boutique hotels, restaurants, and other small businesses.
I love me a boutique hotel too. It's always the décor and ambiance for me. Oh, and the best food usually comes from the restaurant down the street.
Road Trips Are A Wanderlust AlternativeShutterstock
2020 also became the year of the road trip. Somehow driving became the safest method of travel for everyone. And honestly, who doesn't like a good road trip? It's so much easier to rent a car or an RV, map your route, and explore the city of your choosing at your own pace. Some have even used the quarantine for a DIY van build just so they can travel across the country. Personally, I like driving. It's the get-up and go feeling I crave. Distance doesn't bother me either, I always have my overnight bag ready to go.
If there is anything COVID taught us, it's that we take our own country's beauty for granted while admiring the beauty of others. COVID allowed us to get back to our roots by just being present in nature. Whether it was walking, hiking, riding a bike, rollerblading, or camping we all found our inner child outside.
Wellness Is Always The Answer
It's been said that there has been a collective shift in thinking due to this pandemic. A universal awakening of some sort. Self-awareness, mental health, and well-being are major themes this year. And it has now become a theme for the travel industry. Hotels are starting to consider the whole person when creating an environment. They are aiming to meet people where they are now by offering experiences that focus on physical, emotional, and mental well-being. This also translates to the look and feel of hotels. Does the designed space make guests feel comfortable or connected to nature? There is more of a focus on the design of outdoor spaces as well as hotel lobbies that are spiritually engaging and offer privacy.
Travel is going to continue to look different in 2021 and beyond, but do not let this "new look" kill your travel joy. Now, there is just an added layer of protection and it is needed. We are here in this world to experience, to live, and to feel. Regardless of how you choose to travel, be smart, and play it safe.
These are moments and memories you are creating for yourself.
These are your untold stories.
And years from now, you can look back and say, "I survived a global pandemic and I traveled too."
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Featured image by Shutterstock