A guide to travel in 2021: How to successfully start planning your trip NOW?

GIF: Where is your next trip?
Desperate to travel?! We got your covered!

Table of content:

Introduction

Over the last century travel has immensely transformed, giving most people around the globe access to on-demand, safe and care-free travel between cities, countries, and continents far and wide. Little did we know we were living the dream, until a harsher reality came and took it away, forcing the world, and with it travel, to reshape, rethink and re-emerge differently than ever before. The pandemic crushed many travel plans in 2020, making many of us pause and question if this was even real-life?!

Yet, as humans, we are nothing but resilient, tenacious, and adaptable. Having just welcomed 2021 (time flies when you’re having fun, ha? *Sarcasm alert*) we know it’s not just us getting antsy to get back out to the world and go on a much-needed international adventure. However, with uncertainty still in the air where do we go from here? That’s why we created this “guide to travel in 2021” to answer the most important questions in preparation for your 2021 travel plans.

Why planning travel matters?

A wise saying dictates that failing to plan is planning to fail. As “spur of the moment and ever adventure-ready travelers” we cannot say this WAS the case, but in today’s climate, we are inclined to agree. That’s not to say you can’t travel on a whim, it just means you need to have your ducks in a row (so to speak) to avoid any nasty surprises along the way.

Happiness effect 

They say it’s the journey, not the destination. Or is it? Although lounging on a picturesque beach on a dream vacation is a sure way to feel  happy and relaxed, you’d be surprised to learn that journey planning itself can immensely boost levels of happiness. A  scientific study in the Netherlands published in the journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life, shows that the intention itself or the plan to go on a holiday makes vacationers to be almost as happy as the trip itself. The study compared vacationers to non-vacationers and the former had a pre-trip mean happiness score of 2.25, while the later had a score of 2.07. A statistically significant difference that proves that the act of expecting a leisure holiday boosts your happiness levels. 

These findings have been confirmed in other similar studies. A research by the Institute for Applied Positive Research found out that 97% of the respondents feel happier when they have a planned trip, 82% of them feel moderately to significantly happier, and 71% feel energized when they have a trip planned within the next six months.

Whether you’re ready to travel in the near future or a little farther down the road, don’t skimp on the trip planning, but rather savour it.  Dare to think and dream about your next trip! Going through the travel planning process will not only save you some money or make your trip the best and safest it can be, but actually elevate your overall level of happiness before the journey even comes around. 🙂  

Cost effectiveness and budget planning

Planning things in advance can make a real difference for your travel budget. Just take airfare for example. Airlines apply dynamic pricing policies which elevate prices depending on the number of booked aircraft seats, which means that booking a flight well ahead of time allows you to save a good chunk of money. Something similar could happen with your accommodation costs.

Bear in mind, planning how to reach your destination is only one part of the trip planning process. You also need to plan your expenses at the destination, and also your return route. Also don’t forget inner travel at the destination itself whether it’s a bus, train or even a boat or a cessna plane. You have to consider the available schedules and how fares vary based on the timing of your booking and the travel date itself. 

Beyond the cost side of things , the research stage of the planning process is where you explore different ways to experience your destination. Whether you prefer a hectic and packed trip that covers the destination from A-Z or if you’d rather just go with the flow cruising around, planning will help you assess your options and  get a realistic measure of how much each component of the trip might cost. Measure it up against your budget to get a practical vision of your potential trip, avoiding overspending and even disappointment. 

Safety and well-being

One of the key elements of any trip is the safety of the journey and the destination itself. Unless you’re a “living-on-the-edge hyper-adventurous” traveller who throws all caution to the wind you’ll want to have a trouble-free, effortless travel experience. Planning and at least thinking through  the major elements  of your journey will help you to avoid unwanted surprises. Whether it’s health considerations, transit accessibility, your accommodations whereabouts, or the safety of the boat you’ll spend 4 hours on in choppy waters – there can be many considerations along the way to make or break your experience. With the pandemic still globally present, preparation can play a significant role, tipping the scales towards a relaxing versus a stressful journey. 

We’ll share a little story from one of our very co-founder’s trips to Greece. It was 2012 and Athens was charged with political tension, resulting in strikes, riots, rising crime, a migrant crisis and a looming recession. Irina and her friend were debating on a destination to visit while on a trip to Israel but just couldn’t find a compromise, and despite some hesitation eventually settled on Greece. Since airlines, hotels and the travel industry at large were still promoting the destination they figured it couldn’t be too bad and decided to go for it. 

They quickly learned that their failure to plan led them to a conflict ridden country where their safety and security was questionable at best. Upon arriving in Athens they were advised by hotel staff they shouldn’t travel by foot past 6pm, only using certified taxis to get around the city. The daytime didn’t offer a much more relaxed atmosphere as mobile jails and fully armed police surrounded the main areas of the city. Omonia Square; a usually central and bustling area, has now become a migrant congregation zone, bringing drugs and crime along, putting the girls on high-alert and eventually forcing them to run away in broad daylight as they drew much unwanted attention from a male-only crowd. 

Had they taken the time to do proper research they would surely avoid the destination altogether (at the specific time of course). We are however happy to report Irina’s been back since! Not failing to plan a little better the second time around, she discovered the magic and beauty of Athens and the Greek Islands in all their glory (and safety!). 

Picture: Irina Zusman, BagsAway Co-Founder (and author of "How to plan a trip in 2021"), basking in the glory of Santorini’s sunset
Picture: Irina Zusman, BagsAway Co-Founder, basking in the glory of Santorini’s sunset

How to plan a trip in 2021: a 3-steps approach

1. Travel preferences meet current reality and travel trends

If this were a year ago, we would encourage you to start your journey planning from within. No, we don’t mean spiritually speaking…

In other words, ask yourself what type of journey might fulfill your wanderlust driven dreams…What do your heart and soul desire…what destination is calling your name?! 

Yes, those were indeed simpler times, full of choices, limited only by time and budget. Whether you wanted to discover local hidden treasures across your country, conquer lands unknown or revisit known and loved destinations, the world was ever your oyster. Travel on a whim or in advance, relax or get active, fly far, drive near or sail away today, tomorrow, a month or six months away – all was flexible, possible and A-OK!

The world has changed almost overnight since the pandemic broke out (and let’s hope it will return to its previous shape soon), making the road to your dream destination a bit more challenging, if not impossible (pending border closures). 

Though it won’t be a complete surprise, we are all still curious to see the complete picture of travel statistics for 2020. Some interim reports and predictions like the one below shed light on what’s been happening so far.

Chart: Domestic vs international tourism in 2020
Domestic vs international tourism in 2020

Many countries that heavily rely on international tourism saw a shift to domestic tourism. (Not that they had much choice in the matter of course). Lockdowns in many tourist destinations caused cancelations and kicked local travel into a higher gear. 

Airbnb’s real-time data provides an excellent snapshot of current and emerging travel trends, spotting five distinctive patterns that represent the effect of the pandemic on travel habits.

1.     Family travel

Airbnb reported a rise in group travel. Social distancing measures forced families to come together and stay closer than ever before, and hence travel together. A closer knit relationship with your family is one of the few positive side-effects of the pandemic, softening the isolation pressure we’ve all felt to one extent or another.

2.     Bigger space

The larger a group (or family unit), the more living space it needs. Family travel boosted the demand for rentals of entire homes. According to Airbnb, the need for elevated hygiene standards amidst the pandemic further supported the need to rent the entire property. 

3.     Local travel

The shift to domestic travel acted as a catalyst to the above. Staycation, countryside, rural areas, getaway in nature, places off the beaten path and other choices alike became popular. Things that were once an occasional choice have now become a top choice (or the only one). 

4.     Last-minute bookings

It has become increasingly difficult to predict what might happen from one day to the next, not to mention what might change a month away (closures, lockdown, border closings). You may plan a trip to a country that’s welcoming international travel yet face sudden border closures that will throw off all plans. Hence, the safest bet at current times is to book your travel as close as possible to the date, opting for either a shorter stay or alternatively a longer stay. Booking for medium term stay puts you at higher risk of getting into a destination for prolonged  unwanted stay. An air route could be closed and you could simply run out of return choices.

Booking for a short stay is much easier, as we’ll show you later in the post, you are able to predict more or less what will happen next week. Booking for a longer stay is another dimension. You intentionally want to stay longer which makes you less affected by weekly and monthly changes. Your way out is also easier, at least you have more time to consider your choices, to process incoming information and to anticipate the risks.

5.     Work remotely and live anywhere

Remote work was flourishing even before the pandemic, but covid-19 unlocked and propelled this tendency like nothing before.

Airbnb has named this trend as “live anywhere”. A large 83 percent share of respondents in a survey commissioned by Airbnb say that they like the idea to relocate as part of their remote work set up. 

2. Virology 101: Get to know the COVID-19 transmission risk levels

The biology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19) and the mechanics of the human body make an unfortunately ideal combination for transmission. When a person sneezes, the droplets (larger particles) and the aerosols (smaller particles) are released at a staggering speed of up to 100 miles per hour or up to 160 km per hour. For comparison, particles released from coughing reach a speed of 50 mph or 80 kph, not negligible either. A powerful (above average – blasting) sneeze can push droplets 22 to 26 feet (7 to 8 meters) away, a cough can expel them 19 feet (6 meters) away. Talking and singing release germs also. 

Animated chart: Speed of sneezing and covid-19 compared to other oganisms
(shape sources: Hiclipart and OnlineWebFonts)

The virus is transmitted from an infected person to a healthy one by breathing in contaminated air or by touching a surface contaminated with the virus (referred to as fomites by scientists). 

Touching your face is often an unconscious process. One study showed that we touch our face 23 times per hour. 44% of these touches are on the high risk mucous area, or more particularly:

  • 36% mouth touch
  • 31% nose touch
  • 27% eyes touch
  • 6% a combination of the above
Infographic: split of unconscious face touches (mucous vs nonmucous face touches, % of total)
Image source: Photopea

Therefore CDC and other health authorities recommend wearing face masks and frequent hand washing to keep the germs from travelling around.

What’s the Safest Mode of Transportation During COVID-19?

The risk factors relating to each mode of transportation majorly depend on the proximity of passengers and the air circulation. Lets consider the pros and cons:

  • Air travel COVID-19 risk factors

According to CDC air travel involves passing through airport terminals and checkpoints and potential risk exposing touchpoints. Otherwise inside the airplanes the air circulates and renews 20 to 30 times per hour. The ventilation system allows fresh air to come in.

Airplanes also integrated HEPA filters that capture 99% of air particles, according to Scientific American. But, you should be aware that according to MayoClinic the coronavirus has a diameter around 0.12 microns while the HEPA filter captures particles down to 0.3 microns in diameter. Theoretically the virus can still pass through the filter, but some experts say that if the virus is attached to a droplet or aerosol the contaminated particle will be larger and stopped by the filter.   

The main challenge with airplanes (and all other transport modes for that matter) is that you still have to sit relatively close to other passengers. To reduce the risk further down, some airlines are starting to establish COVID-free flights by conducting rapid pre-flight tests to prevent COVID positive passengers from boarding the vessel in real-time.

  • Train travel COVID-19 risk factors

Train travel may also involve some pre-trip touch points. According to Scientific American, trains circulate the air 18 times per hour. They also have MERV filters, efficient 95% of the time for particles in the range between 0.3 and 10 microns, according to Nearby Engineers. 

  • Bus travel COVID-19 risk factors

Scientific American says that buses also have MERV filters, probably no ventilation system to replace the air, but it has the ability to circulate air through the windows, doors and vents.

  • Car travel COVID-19 risk factors

Cars probably represent one of the safer travel options. You are cocooned and sheltered from the outside world, avoiding unnecessary exposure to persons outside your households. Car manufacturers have also started to sell new models with upgraded filters. Cars also have the advantage of airflow, giving passengers ultimate control over the air quality in the vehicle.

  • Cruise ship travel COVID-19 risk factors

According to the CDC, traveling on a cruise ship represents the highest transmission risk among all travel modes. For now we recommend you stay on dry land.

GIF: man flying on a hoverboard
This hoverboard will keep you at a safe distance from covid, but unfortunately won’t get you far enough. At least for now. 

Risk it or play it safe?

No matter how you cut it, travelling for leisure during a pandemic bares a certain level of risk. That risk changes from place to place, from time to time and of course changes from person to person. A Frontiers in Psychology journal published a study examining people’s risk tolerance and associated behavior. One of the main (and non-surprising) findings the research concluded is that as people age they become more risk averse.

In contrast, another psychological study coming from Germany and Switzerland concluded that risk seeking tendencies among people can differ significantly and remain relatively stable over life. This stability can be measured as sort of a “Risk Quotient”, similar in concept to an IQ score.

Whether you score high or low, the decision to travel or stay put for the time being is entirely subjective. Pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone is great but for the time being it may be best you make travel choices that align with your risk appetite. No matter where you stand it’s always best to be cautious and adaptable because travel never fails to surprise along the way!

What (health) risk category do you belong to?

Fortunately many of those affected by the virus experience mild symptoms, consistent with those of a common cold. However, some are more severely affected. So who’s at risk? Based on retrospective 4,536 patients’ data, Cleveland Clinic made a predictive model to help determine the health risk factors that may predispose one to develop more acute symptoms:

  • Former smokers are more vulnerable than current smokers;
  • Chronic illness: diabetes, hypertension, chronic lung disease, shortness of breath, diarrhea, medications like Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II type-I receptor blockers (ARBs), NSAIDs and immunosuppressive treatment;
  • Demographics: those with African ancestry; older age; male sex, poor socioeconomic status;
  • Those who have taken a flu vaccine.

Of course, there’s no guarantee those not belonging to the above risk categories are immune to potentially worse symptoms, it just means those are that do should be extra cautious in everyday life and especially when considering travel.  

Covid-19 vaccination expectations and schedules

From the moment news broke of the global pandemic, leading global scientists have been racing to develop a vaccine and the citizens of the world have been anxiously awaiting. It is a known fact that vaccines will play a major role in the revival of the global economy and most certainly the travel sector. As covid-19 vaccines entered final testing, release and administration stages, many people started to breathe sighs of relief. There are more than 50 vaccine contenders globally and you can easily track down vaccine development and by country on this map.

Vaccines by phase of authorization
Source: Bloomberg, December 02, 2020

Bloomberg provided a nice overview of the progress of each major vaccine developer including the amount of vaccines reserved by country. Having reserved enough vaccines to cover 303% of its population, Canada was a contender to lead the way, but as vaccinations began, Israel came out as a leader with its rapid rate of administration, vaccinating over 1% of the population per day, with no signs of slowing down. You can follow the vaccination progress around the world at “Our World in Data resource.

In an optimistic scenario, Goldman Sachs predicts that 70% of the population in developed countries will be vaccinated by fall 2021, while half of the population in the USA and Canada will be vaccinated by April 2021. Of course this is just an estimate and does not account for expected delays or changes in vaccination schedules from country to country.

Vaccination passports, testing and tracking 

One of the key considerations to boosting and reviving the travel industry is keeping track of travellers’ immune status for COVID-19. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) declared at the end of November that it is in the final stages of developing a Digital Passport in the form of an app, in hopes it will be a universally accepted answer to safely opening international borders. 

Quarantine restrictions have been a major obstacle to cross border travel, which is exactly what “The Travel Pass” app hopes to eliminate. Keeping track of testing and vaccination data globally and giving travellers real-time access to labs and testing centres that will help them comply with travel requirements, ultimately exempting them from needing to spend two weeks in isolation upon arrival. However, governments around the world have yet to jump on board with this as the solution to border reopening or eliminating quarantine requirements. 
With the rise of vaccinations many wonder if airlines will require proof of vaccination to board their planes. It still remains to be seen what policies airlines will adopt, however, Australian airline Qantas’ CEO Alan Joyce was the first to make the COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for international travel abroad his fleet, encouraging others (perhaps controversially) to do the same.

3. Determine where you can travel to (from your country)

What countries and borders are open for travel? Where can I go?!

First things first, check whether your intended destination is welcoming international travelers, specifically from your country of origin. Though, keep in mind that travel restrictions may swiftly change from one day to the next, and keeping up with the pace of change can be a difficult task. A country’s closed borders today may be open tomorrow and vice versa, often making travel guidelines change at a moment’s notice.

Don’t stress! We selected a few useful resources to help you maneuver these tricky and frequent changes to serve as a solid starting point for your travel plans:

Although each of the trackers above do their best, they may lag from time to time so be sure to cross-check a couple of them or even visit the official governmental web pages for the latest travel advisory policies related to the destination of your choice.

Traveling from a high COVID-risk country or planning to travel to one?

When it comes to Pandemic time travel, it’s not just where you’re going but where you’re coming from that matters. Even if other international destinations are currently open to visitors from your country of residence, it’s best to keep a watchful eye open for COVID infection stats. If they are on the rise, a likelihood exists that your country may soon be banned or restricted from traveling to certain destinations. The same goes for your desired travel destination.

Following infection trends will help anticipate possible risks of border closures or lockdowns that may disrupt your trip. Our recommendation? For best practice take the stock market approach – check COVID case trends along a 7-day, monthly and quarterly period prior to your intended travel date to gage possible future numbers. How to do that? Simply type-in a search query on Google using the following format “[country] covid-19 cases” and it will give you a very obvious picture of the trend.

Where can I travel without quarantine?

So after some research and due diligence, you learned your intended destination is welcoming travelers from your place of residence – YAY! But what happens once you arrive? Are you free to roam and enjoy or are you required to quarantine? A survey by YouGov determined that most people would cancel their trip if they had to quarantine for two weeks post-arrival, cause, what’s the point, right? Between quarantine at the destination and quarantine back home the vacation seems like more work than relaxation, not to mention for most, the time and money involved are just not realistic altogether.

So, take your time to understand what happens AFTER you land at your destination or what you need to do BEFORE arrival to ensure quarantine requirements don’t apply to you. Maybe a negative pre-trip PCR test is all that you need or maybe you’ll require another test to validate this once at the destination. For example, check out 40 countries that allow entry of Canadian travelers and require only a negative PCR test in order to avoid quarantine on arrival. Do your homework to avoid unpleasant surprises and pave the way for a friction-free trip!

Travel planning advice and tips

Airlines, hotels and Airbnbs with flexible cancellation and postponement policies

Until we return to a more normal travel environment, flexibility is a highly valued booking attribute that you should seek. When you book your flight, hotel, car rental or Airbnb, check the cancelation and postponement policies. More flexible policies will save you trouble going forward.

For example Qatar Airways allows you to hold your ticket valid for two years and make unlimited changes to your desired travel date through December 2021. Isn’t it wonderful?!

 To find out more on this topic:  

The same applies for hotels and Airbnb properties. Each hotel chain has its own cancelation and postponement policy and many of them provide flexibility because of the pandemic. So if you have a preferred choice of hotel brand be sure to read what it says about it. Be aware that you may come across a hotel that hasn’t updated its policy since the beginning of the pandemic and it may look outdated. In such cases it would be best if you contact the hotel directly to understand what’s the latest status.  

When it comes to Airbnb properties, the policy is more certain and standardized. You can find all the essential information and description of available levels and types of cancelation by going to Airbnb’s website. Airbnb offers flexible, moderate, strict, long term, super strict 30 days, and super strict 60 days cancelation.

Great travel deals and rates

Based on data by Tuscon which is tracking 200 hotels in the USA across seven popular and perhaps more upscale hotel brands, the average prices of hotel rooms in 2020 dropped 32% compared to 2019.

Chart: hotel room prices decline in 2020 compared to 2019

When it comes to price averages, some hotels and other accommodation providers have slashed their prices beyond the average, giving crafty (and thrifty) eager travellers the opportunity to capitalize on the momentum. With a little extra online research you will find many attractive deals with exceptionally low booking rates.

We see a similar picture in the air travel industry. CNBC reports that the prices of domestic flights in the USA are 41% lower in 2020 than last year, and the prices for international flights from the USA are down by 35% from last year.   

Chart: flight prices decline in 2020 compared to 2019
(shape sources: Clipartmax and Vect eezy)

Keeping in mind passenger volumes dropped an overall 65% below 2019, there is no better time to take advantage of the worst of times (so to speak) to get the best incentives! Combine ultimate flexibility (as outlined above) with the lowest of rates to book that dream vacation. If circumstances change you will get the benefit of keeping the rate frozen for up to 24 months, making it a win-win situation for you, and the travel industry you’re supporting in the process. 

Travel insurance: trip cancellation and COVID medical insurance

If you’re having challenges making flexible travel arrangements (like the ones mentioned above), travel insurance may be the solution. During the pandemic there is a robust increase in demand for insurance policies that allow cancelation for any reason, protecting the travellers from risks associated with potential trip cancellations. It sounds like a nice preventive mechanism, but like any other insurance policy it has limitations:

  • It compensates 50% to 75% of the expenses, don’t expect full refund;
  • It’s 40% to 50% pricier than a standard travel policy;
  • You have to buy it within 10 to 20 days after you pay your trip (the period depends on the insurance provider)
  • You have to cancel your trip at least two days before departure, again this could vary from one insurance provider to another;

Another insurance alternative that emerged in this period is a covid-19 travel insurance policy. Many insurance providers state that their travel policies cover covid-19 with no extra cost.

To be on the safe side and well informed about what your policy does or doesn’t cover you should read the policy “fine print”. Talk also to your insurance agent. You don’t won’t surprises in moments when you may need the insurance most. You also need to check which foreign countries are covered under the covid-19 insurance and whether the provider will still cover you in a case if you have traveled while the national covid guidelines recommended to avoid non-essential travel. 

Remote work possibilities

The remote work trend was introduced before. If you do online research you will notice that most frequently the following countries are mentioned as popular remote work destinations: Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda,  Barbados,  Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Mexico, Dubai.

Some of the countries offer perks with an intention to create more interest for the destination. Thus remote workers may get vouchers for free visits of tourist attractions or coworking spaces, discounts or vouchers for a few-days accommodation at selected hotel brands and other similar incentives.

But, as you may expect, there is no such thing as a free lunch. To be eligible for a long-term remote work visa you also need to fulfill some conditions. Iceland for example requires applicants to have an annual income of at least $88,000 and Cayman Islands require $100,000 according to TripSavvy. Other countries have different thresholds, Georgia requires a minimum $24,000 annual income.

Being too focused on countries that actively promote the remote work idea might distract you from other possibilities and other countries. If you check this Wikipedia resource which is related to US travelers you can see that they are allowed to travel to many countries without a visa. The average stay period without a visa is 90 days. It’s a similar case for travelers from Canada.

Once Covid fades out you should have more chances to use these 90 days stay opportunities. For longer stays in the meantime, you should check first if your desired destination accepts travelers from your country, and if it does you can get in contact with your embassy in the foreign country and with the ministry of foreign affairs of the foreign country. They will be able to guide you through the long-term visa options. 

Prepare for your trip in 2021, step by step

GIF: four guys travel and walk around a city on a couch
Travel? What was that?!

In the previous sections we presented you with the big picture about travel in 2021. Now it’s time to have a look at the most important steps for your next travel: 

  1. Passport. Take your passport and blow the dust off 😊. Don’t forget to double-check your passport expiry date (if you haven’t traveled in almost a year it might be time to renew!).
  2. Countries open for travel. If all is good, check which countries borders are open for travel and their respective Covid infections trends. See if the open countries require travelers to go into quarantine upon arrival and for how long, Don’t forget to check your own home country’s travel policies to other countries.
  3. Budget. Do preliminary research to get a ballpark estimation of the budget needed for the trip. 
  4. Booking. Book flight and accommodation once you choose your destination. Don’t forget to look for and to use flexible cancellation policies.
  5. Visa. Do you need to apply for a visa for international travel? If so, check how many blank pages your passport has. If you plan a bucket list trip and want to go to some more exotic destination, for example, Africa, you may need more blank pages than expected. Check Tripadvisor to see what fellow travelers have to say about it.
  6. Apply for a visa (in most cases visa application requires accommodation and/or flight to be booked before).
  7. Vaccination. Should you consider getting vaccinated against yellow fever, malaria, or other diseases? What about Covid vaccination requirements? There are currently no mandatory vaccinations required, only recommended for specific destinations. However, with vaccinations for Covid disseminated globally at expedited rates this may change, the controversial debate is just getting started.  
  8. Covid tests. This is a pretty critical item on the checklist so be sure to check whether you need to provide a negative PCR or ELISA test to enter the country or to cross international borders on your route. These policies and requirements can change daily so this is something you will need to pay especially close attention to days ahead of your departure. One such example is Costa Rica. While the country previously required a negative Covid test to enter its borders, as of October 26th that requirement has been lifted. If you’ve previously contracted Covid you may be eligible for an “immunity passport”. It’s a policy that allows covid survivors to enter a country with fewer requirements if they are able to provide documented evidence (or some sort of immunity certificate) that they have recovered from the illness some time ago. This policy is still under debate as it requires precision in antibody tests and scientific assurance that this immunity is long-lasting. According to WSJ, the UK and the Veneto region in Italy wanted to introduce a policy of this sort, while according to CNN travel Iceland and Hungary have decided to adopt this policy. Keep your hand on the pulse and be sure to do a little research before your trip.
  9. Transportation. Think about what happens once you cross the border or once you land at the airport. Do you need connecting transportation, a train, bus, car rental, taxi? If yes, book them on time before you arrive. When booking a car rental be aware that they also provide free cancelation possibility. Each individual provider may differ, be sure to check them out, Kayak created a nice car rental resource page for this purpose.
  10. Driver permit. If you want to set yourself up for remote work or want a cross country experience you may need to drive a car (own or rented). Check either with your car rental provider or the local transport authority whether you need an International Driver Permit or not. It varies from country to country.
  11. Connectivity. It’s something all Western countries and even most developing countries have comes to rely on. When traveling this mobile safety net becomes even more critical. You may want to buy a prepaid SIM card with an included mobile internet package so that you can be available anywhere you go, at least via the internet. It can also save you from expensive roaming charges. The first place to refer to is your cell carrier’s website or alternatively research cheap local connectivity options. For instance, Thailand is a destination that caters to travel mobility needs with unlimited internet plans that will satisfy all your connectivity needs along the journey. Though depending on how remote the destination you’re traveling to it may be a good idea to research the quality of the available local network. You do not want to end up with a cheap “solution” that simply doesn’t do its job, which is especially important if you work remotely. You’ll need a reliable quality connection and a backup plan to keep you connected and available for your professional commitments.
  12. Power supply. Connectivity on the electrical grid. Depending on the type of your travel, sometimes you may have a need to charge your phone while you are on the move. A power bank will be handy in such situations. Don’t forget also the need for a travel power plug converter if the voltage in the country differs from yours at home. If it’s a critical tool for you, try to buy one before your trip. A local electronics shop can help you, if not, you can easily order it online.
  13. Finances. Before you go it’s a good idea to manage and plan your finances. If you can acquire the foreign currency at your local bank prior to your trip, it would likely be the optimal way to go. It will also give you confidence in the exchange rate, avoiding potentially getting ripped off by small currency traders at your destination. If you can’t buy the foreign currency before your trip for one reason or another you’ll need to plan to make a bank or a trusted exchange office one of your first stops. An ATM is also an option, but it’s likely going to cost you extra, extra, but hey, that’s just the price of convenience, right? It’s obviously wise to plan and budget ahead as to how much cash you’ll bring along and how much extra you’ll have in your bank (credit/debit) in case of emergency. Make sure you’re in the know on your daily charge limits and the card status abroad, ensuring your card won’t be declined at the destination to avoid unnecessary stress.
  14. Apps. Travel with confidence using one of the best tech trip-buddies available – your smartphone! Load it with apps useful for your trip. Google Maps is one obvious choice, along with Uber or Lyft and other “app staples”. Yet, the iTunes and Google Play stores are packed with exciting, useful, and out of the box travel solution to kick-up your trip t0 the next level. Packr, Lyfx, Adventure IO, Roadtrippers, Trippit, Couchsurfing are just a few worth checking out! We have no doubt you have your own go to travel apps, we’d love to hear from you because we are ever eager to learn!
  15. Covid protection kit. Don’t forget to pack your bags with a basic covid protection kit: masks, hand sanitizers, disposable gloves, and vitamins, (C, D, B, and the rest of the alphabet!). Echinacea, Tylenol, and a thermometer could also serve as useful for a healthy and safe trip!

Concluding thoughts

Although some never stopped crossing borders over the last year, it’s not inaccurate to say that on-the-whim travel has become less accessible than before. Yet, if you’re longing for the excitement of the unknown and those serendipitous encounters with people from all corners of the world. If your thirst for exotic, real, and raw experiences in dream destinations conquers your fears, we say there’s no time like the present to get planning, safely and thoughtfully moving the dream a little closer to reality once again!