Travel in the coronavirus era warrants a heightened sense of responsibility. As our plane departed for Quito in December 2018, Danielle turned to me: “Any chance we get through seven months in South America without getting sick!?”
Today, we’d have a different conversation: “We may have recently been exposed…and we haven’t been tested…so can we – in good conscience – make this trip? What if we were to unknowingly get 10 people sick…and what if they…”
People now look at travel differently. As a team of travel advisers, it only makes sense that we approach it differently as well. As you consider your vacation plans this year, I’d like to share three recommendations to help you adjust your travel mindset to our new reality.
HOLD YOURSELF TO A HIGHER STANDARD
Whenever you travel, you’re an ambassador for your home state and country. Now more than ever, our choices and actions as travelers matter a great deal. It’s easy to convince ourselves we simply must escape. But let’s not allow wanderlust to overshadow our better judgment or cloud our view of what’s considered safe.
If we choose to travel nonessentially, we must think more deeply about the risks involved, not only for ourselves and our loved ones, but for the strangers waiting to greet us on the other side. Be more thoughtful, aware and observant than you’ve ever been. And recognize the definition of travel safety has evolved significantly in recent months.
UPGRADE YOUR PERSONAL TRAVEL RISK ASSESSMENT
Prior to travel, a risk assessment should always include you and your loved ones. It’s normal and reasonable for you to start there, but it doesn’t end there, especially in the wake of a new and considerably unknown threat.
Make sure you check all of the right health and safety boxes before traveling, and remember the implications extend beyond you. Get a COVID-19 test before your trip. Avoid unnecessary exposure before, during, and after. If you’re traveling internationally, enroll in the STEP program.
If you need vaccinations, visit a travel medicine clinic like Passport Health. Finally, consider a membership with a specialized service provider like Global Rescue, in case you require emergency medical evacuation at home or overseas.
The days of the entirely inward-facing risk assessment are behind us. Now, we need to think equally – if not more – about others.
VIEW EVERY HUMAN INTERACTION THROUGH A NEW LENS
Through every stage of the process, we encounter people who play unique roles within our travel journey – and each of them has been through a different version of the same storm we’ve all been navigating.
Before becoming frustrated with customer service representatives over the phone or TSA agents as you’re passing through security, remember they’re just doing their jobs and those jobs have been particularly difficult lately.
When you’ve reached your destination, put yourself in the shoes of the locals you come in contact with. Haggling in Moroccan souks is customary, but recent events have financially impacted these small business owners. Engage in the art of the haggle how you see fit, but consider a modified threshold. Are you willing to pay a few extra dirhams for that leather purse or Berber carpet than you would have on a prior trip?
Show more empathy. Heighten your situational sensitivity. There’s no limit to either. Coronavirus has leveled the playing field, and we all now find ourselves standing on at least one piece of common ground. Perhaps this shared experience creates an opportunity for a new degree of human connection, and this may make your travel more rewarding than ever.
Adam and Danielle Aronson, co-founders of travelhelix, design tailor-made travel experiences and help their clients navigate the complexities of trip planning. After too many years behind a desk, they traded in their full-time jobs for a few suitcases and the pursuit of passion and greater purpose.
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