Are You Prepared for Post COVID-19 Travel in the ‘New Normal’?
We've all thought about it: post COVID-19 travel. But are we ready?
Book, pack, go. Whether it’s a last-minute weekend getaway to Bangkok with your BFF for some retail therapy, a short beach holiday to Da Nang or a month-long escape to the Mediterranean coast with the family that you’ve taken ages to plan for, overseas travel has been a major feature in the lives of Singaporeans.
While there is no question about the benefits of travel as a mood elevator as uncovered by the Expedia 2019 Vacation Deprivation Study, the fact that travel has come to a standstill remains extremely hard to reconcile for globe-trotting Singapore residents who are used to taking multiple overseas trips a year. These days, many of us have resorted to getting our travel fix by reminiscing past travel moments and sharing photos of our favourite travel moments with our friends and family on social media.
As we await the time when we can all travel again, it is important to note that the future of travel will require a significant mental and emotional shift. To help you prepare for and navigate travel’s ‘new normal’, here are some key points for you to consider before making plans for your next big escape.
Post COVID-19 Travel
Next Destination: Singapore
With a number of uncertainties surrounding the destinations that will be safe for international travel, the next immediate travel destination could be right in our own backyard. Over a third of accommodation searches made in June for check-in between July to September on Expedia.com.sg covering staycations in Singapore.
As local movement restrictions begin to ease, the entire island is now your oyster. Fulfil your wanderlust by planning a series of local staycations at hotels that have been approved by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). With over a third of accommodation searches made in June for check-in between July to September on covering staycations in Singapore, there’s no better time than now to grab that amazing staycation deal that you’ve been eyeing.
With the time saved from travelling, you can also take the opportunity to explore the hidden gems all across the island. Head to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve located in the northwest of Singapore and weave through trails that pass through large canopies of trees and mangroves. Escape the bustle of the city and make a beeline for Bollywood Veggies for a unique farm-to-table experience at Poison Ivy Bistro. Or take a walk down memory lane through Everton Park to admire the murals that pay homage to Singapore’s past, while enjoying a fragrant cup of traditional kopi at a neighbourhood coffee shop.
Take the Road Less Travelled
Heading to destinations with large crowds, such as major music festivals, sporting events, or a New Year countdown party, may not be the best thing to do when leisure travel opens up once again.
With social distancing as the new norm, consider taking the road less travelled to avoid getting stuck in masses of people. This could be as simple as heading a little further up north instead of heading straight to Seminyak on your next trip to Bali, Indonesia. Avoiding major crowds when you travel also eases over-tourism in the usual travel hotspots, allowing you to better support local businesses while immersing yourself in the local culture and discovering unique experiences.
Health and Safety First
Even as restrictions ease in Singapore and around the world, your health and safety should always be prioritised when you travel. Keep a lookout for accommodations that meet the health and safety standards of the local authorities – such as the SG Clean quality mark in Singapore or the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration Project – to have peace of mind on your next trip out with your family or friends.
To help travellers make better booking decisions, Expedia developed a new feature for accommodation providers to highlight the health and hygiene measures at their properties, including contactless check-in and check-out, availability of hand sanitizer to guests, enhanced cleaning measures, and social distancing plans on the Expedia.com.sg site.
Airports around the world have put new features and contactless processes in place to help protect the health and safety of travellers and staff. With new safety measures in place, Expedia recommends arriving at the at airport at least 1 to 2 hours earlier than normal.
Similarly, airlines have changed their operational guidelines to safeguard the health and safety of travellers. Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific have already have adopted safety measures on flights for both passengers and crew. Travellers can expect temperature checks or screenings prior to boarding; requirements for the wearing of face masks and other protective gear onboard flights; reduced inflight service and entertainment, and staggered boarding and disembarkation timings.
When visiting attractions, it is important to follow the safe distancing measures put in place by the operator and the local government. More importantly, you should make the effort to be a responsible traveller and take the necessary precautions by wearing protective gear when out and about or stay indoors when you are not feeling well.
While we used to be able to book non-refundable trips at a whim to take advantage of that super attractive travel deal, we may want to revisit this approach for the next trip overseas. Even with the utmost preparation, we need to take an “anything can happen” approach as lockdowns may reoccur, so safeguarding our interests and mobility will be more important than ever.
Expedia recommends considering flexible and refundable travel options to ensure peace of mind should any itinerary changes need to be made. To make it easier for travellers to find travel options with free cancellation or no change fees, there is now the option to filter flights with “no change fees” and lodging and activities with “free cancellation”. Don’t forget to add travel insurance the next time you book a trip. With today’s uncertainties, you’d never know when you’ll need it if plans unexpectedly change mid-trip.
Keep Your Options Open
We never know when the situation may change, flights and hotel prices may also be dynamic, so do keep your options open to capture a good travel deal when it comes your way. The Expedia mobile app offers timed deals, alerts on price changes, and double rewards for mobile bookings.
Prior to taking off, it is important to check the latest travel advisories and restrictions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website and do your research on the websites of the local attractions that you are planning to visit. You can also minimise the risks of uncertainties and avoid disappointment by booking flexible flights and hotels early, and add on the activities only closer to your travel date.
If your travel arrangements just don’t go according to plan, don’t fret just yet. You can always fall back on amazing virtual experiences that you can participate in from home, or from anywhere in the world.
At the end of the day, whether you are travelling in Singapore or overseas, don’t forget to smell the roses and enjoy the journey. While the future travel may not look quite the same as before, seeing beyond the bad and uncovering the good may help you to appreciate the sights and sounds in their true form. Though the world may be closed, for now, travel remains open for business. And one day, we will all be able to travel freely to all the destinations we love and hold dear once again.
Lead image source from Unsplash Image by Link Hoang.
This article was written by Lavinia Rajaram, APAC Head of Communications, Expedia. For more information on how to travel smart and travel safely, visit Expedia.com.sg.