by Dancoise KoechlerListen to “Covid Travel 2021: What to Expect.” on Spreaker. https://widget.spreaker.com/widgets.js
Travel in the time of COVID19 is uncertain, not to mention scary I know. I was very nervous when I broke free out of quarantine last June, but 10 countries later, I’m ready to share a few experiences and tips for your upcoming COVID travel.
Great Prices | Small Crowds | New Adventures
1. Great Prices mean new places to explore in my book. Malta, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco were just a few places I was lucky to discover, because of some very convincing offers that I found through Google Flights searches during lock-down. These days hotels and airlines are barely holding on by a thread and simply try to stay afloat by offering travel addicts like me a shiny carrot. This means that many flights are sold at a loss, just to keep seats full and business costs covered. Some of the best deals I found from Switzerland were to Malta, Turkey, and Egypt. I can really recommend Google Flights for finding the best deals as the tech giant uses its infinite power to crawl the web in search of the best deals and present them to you in a pretty little all-encompassing package. Travel credit cards are also great these days as they partner up with the tourism industry to offer competitive deals for attractive and sometimes exclusive deals. I’ve found some exciting opportunities this way in fact, like complimentary VIP suite upgrades just to seal the deal. Also, hotel chains like Hyatt offer the best deals through their World of Hyatt website in an attempt to cut out the middle man, save a few bucks and keep the deal “in the family”.
2. Small Crowds should be number one, because small crowds are my absolute favorite thing about pandemic travel. There’s nothing that irritates me more than a sea of cameras ready to snap- clip-got it- go at all of the most beautiful sights to see. My favorite experience was probably in the South of France during my one-week stay in Menton, just 20 minutes outside of Monaco. I found a great rate on a beachfront room and since “the South of France” is on the boogie “must-do” list, it seemed to fit my bill. Driving down in July, I expected the beach to be overrun with tourists, but when I arrived it was barely a sprinkling of locals and a few brave adventurers that peppered the beach. It’s the same experience I lived on my trips to Pisa, Florence, Milan, Cairo, El Gouna, Mendoza, Europa Park, Rulantica, Istanbul, Antalya, and other destinations during my pandemic travels. The views were amazing in the cities and in the amusement parks, lines were short. This is an experience that we probably will never relive once the pandemic has released us from its grasp, although I’m sure we won’t mind the comfort of chaos.
3. New Adventures should also be number one, because I love the opportunity that this new norm has presented. If it had not been for the pandemic I would have never traveled to most of the places I visited, but because I had to seek out destinations that were welcoming foreign passengers, relaxed about their COVID restrictions, and were very encouraged to book their economies, I was blessed to cross off a few names on my bucket list. Turkey was a big one for me and it did not let me down. Before the pandemic, I had always been warned to stay far away from Turkey because of the ever-present civil unrest. In August 2020, I finally gave in and decided to visit. I loved what I saw and although I encountered a few scary situations which I mention in my podcasts, it was great. I particularly loved Antalya and its resorts which presented a well-priced quick getaway as I chase the sun to escape Switzerland’s gray weather. More countries are seeing opportunity in the pandemic and are opening their borders to welcome visitors, who under normal circumstances would never come.
Last Minute Changes | Airline Experiences | Masks/ Testing / Capacity Restrictions | Less Direct Flights
- Last Minute Changes are probably one of my biggest irritants in this whole pandemic saga. Human beings need security. We need to know that we can rely on things happening in the way we’ve planned them to happen, but all of that has gone out the window with COVID19. Since last year I have had flights cancelled before my trips and durinrg my trips. Thanks to my unconventional lifestyle, I am flexible enough to be less affected by these sudden changes. If you only take one or two trips per year; however, I would strongly suggest opting for travel insurance as you plan your upcoming trips to give you the security that you’ll need in case of last minute restriction changes, flight cancelations or unforeseen complications.
- Airline Experiences have become very interesting and here I have to point out one airline in particular: Air Europa. It is understandable that airlines are struggling; however, they go to a lot of trouble sometimes to be passive agressive about their responsibilities when it comes to refunding money rightfully owed the passengers. This year I waited 7 months for a refund which was only returned in part after a mistake made by Air Europa staff. Luckily for me Iberia was there to pick up the pieces. I still continue to battle with the airlines to send full compensation for what was a traumatic and unnecssary situation. Beyond refunds, flights are generally longer and less direct as general traffic has contracted and created a need for reimagining routes to boost efficiency. As much as I love to fly, I don’t like the idea that I need to go through the USA to get to South America. At least I can pick up peanut butter.
- Capacity Restrictions, although necessary, can create quite the bottle neck in the system and waiting in line really isn’t my thing. Luckily I don’t get too involved in any activity that require standing in line, but I certainly have seen it happen. This really isn’t a big “Con” for me, but it something to consider when your planning your adventure. For example, many places like Europa Park require you to reserve the time that you will arrive so that they can makes sure they never exceed their legally designated capcity.
For me COVID19 pandemic travel has been a big positive. I do look forward to everything reopening without restriction; however, searching for a solution has definitely helped me see the bright side of the interesting time in which we currently live.