Travel is all about the unexpected. And even more so now as our lives are encapsulated in uncertainty, especially in the realm of leaving our comfort zones into the unchartered waters of life after Covid-19. We’ve answered the questions of those who are itching to explore, but are also unsure on how, where, and when to start their journey.
Should I be making future travel plans even if I can’t travel right now?
Why or why not?
What does travel mean to you? Does it make your heart sing? Does it fuel your creativity? Is being curious about different cultures and wilderness areas food for your soul, and with that your mental health? Is showing your family ‘the world’ and indulging in experiences part of what you truly value in life? Then my answer is a yes, plan your next trip! Firstly, choose a travel company that you trust and can be open with about your concerns and travel anxiety. Ask them about flexible booking terms and be clear about where you are in your decision-making process. I believe right now we need to be kind to each other, and being clear is being kind – this will allow your travel agent to engage with you in the way that works for you.
“Tourism is one of the biggest providers of employment and can be a great contributor to protecting our environment and wilderness areas, of which so little are left.” Furthermore – the people in these destinations need you. Tourism is one of the biggest providers of employment and can be a great contributor to protecting our environment and wilderness areas, of which so little are left. Making decisions to travel in a meaningful way should be key to your travel planning, resulting in positive log lasting impacts to the destinations you choose. Nature and wilderness are part of our being.
Having gone through the past months of uncertainty, anxiety and fear, we are reminded that it is nature which grounds us and improves our mental health. Consider a holiday where being part of nature is essential, ensuring life-changing experiences while simultaneously contributing to the existence and protection of these wild spaces. “…a holiday begins with the anticipating and dreaming that happens before we even leave home.” Lastly – a holiday begins with the anticipating and dreaming that happens before we even leave home. It’s a great way to explore and dig beneath the surface of a new destination, taking time to seek what you really want to see and explore. You can start getting excited for a goal in the future – something positive and soul-nurturing to look forward to.
How do I justify booking a getaway when times are so uncertain and laws are changing daily?
Uncertainty and anxiety are currently ongoing themes in our daily lives. Be open and honest with your travel agent and ask for flexible booking terms and understand cancellation policies. Destinations right now offer to book and only pay a deposit in a few months’ time. Most businesses have developed extremely flexible terms when it comes to the change of a booking – with few or no penalties to do so. This is especially important if you are unsure about whether your chosen airline will fly to the destination you wish to travel to. When planning your trip, try and include some buffer days when you have connecting flights as airline schedules will change due to availability.
When is it viable that I could be travelling again?
I.e. how far in advance should I book?
I wish I could say I have a concrete answer to this – I would make a lot of money and could donate it to different conservation projects! Experts say that it will be safe to travel in the last quarter of this year, from September 2020. This would certainly be a time to take advantage of for those who would like to avoid tourist traffic, with less travellers en route. If I just picture the guides and hosts of our safari lodges welcoming their first guests again, it brings tears into my eyes how joyful they will be. It will certainly be a wonderful experience. If however you feel that this is too soon and you’d like some more certainty, then it is safe to say that you can book your travels for 2021.
Which kind of destinations should I be considering and why?
Destination choice is a personal choice and I wouldn’t recommend one destination over the other; it truly depends on your travel appetite. Perhaps rather ask the question “how should I be travelling?” as I believe for quite some time to come, social distancing will be the new reality. Therefore, if you book an adventure in a city, consider researching how your attractions of choice will be able to offer you the experience while keeping some form of social distancing. Seek out restaurants where tables can be set further apart; query whether museums and galleries offer access for limited visitors; find private transport or walking routes to explore the city. “Natural settings lend themselves to socially-distanced experiences…”
Alternatively, consider travel choices that include nature. Natural settings lend themselves to socially-distanced experiences; safari lodges and boutique hotels organically celebrate privacy and space. Being in nature will also be nurturing to your mental, emotional and physical health after the traumatic few months we have all gone through.
Additionally, I would ask myself if there is a way to contribute with my travels to make the world a ‘healthier’ place. Spend more time exploring fewer places, minimising your carbon footprint travelling from A to B. Consider booking experiences that have a strong conservation ethos and make purchases which contribute to bordering communities. Choosing a wildlife and wilderness-based holiday gives you a wonderful opportunity to learn how co-exist in harmony with nature.
What kind of getaways should I be curating or dreaming of?
I.e. how long, what kinds of activities, itineraries, etc. should I be considering?
Get out there, be in nature, be curious. Learn about people and communities and how they interact with the environment. If this pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that we need to look after this planet better and view ourselves as part of nature. As Ian McCullum says: “We don’t have to get back to nature – we are nature!” So if we look after nature, we look after ourselves – it’s a win/win and the way we choose to travel in the future gives us the opportunity to have the power to make nature-wise choices.
Anything practical that I should consider and truly look out for when planning now?
Yes! I’ve listed a few practical tips:
Firstly, choose a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you in the event of travel bans as well as any health risks. Do not try and skip or save in this area of your holiday – it is of utmost importance. Make sure you include buffer days in your travel plans in case airline schedules change; this also allows you to ‘slow down’ a little. Be sure to plan for extra time at airports and immigration. If you are travelling with kids, prepare yourself with extra snacks and games to keep them stimulated. Always travel with a little pillow to help make kids comfortable. Be flexible and kind. Things may not go according to plan as tourism is rediscovering how to offer guests wonderful experiences. However, don’t shy away from telling your hosts in a kind way if you are uncertain or uncomfortable about something.
Be wise and sanitise! Hygiene is now a global priority. However, at all times, consider the planet while keeping sanitised. The earth and our survival go hand-in-hand.