Have you missed travel? We’re currently planning our first real trips since January 2020 (wow, it really has been that long!) and have noticed some interesting changes. In fact, we’ve come up with 9 things to consider for travel in a post-COVID world. These are easily overlooked when planning but are still important to consider.
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Our first trip in a post-COVID world
Miss M and I are going to Paris. It is on our post-COVID bucket list and we are going for it. It won’t be our first visit (I visited regularly when I lived in Brussels), but it will be our first mother-daughter trip since Amsterdam and our first real travel in a post-pandemic world. We are only going to be for 4 days (still one more than Amsterdam) but we already have a lot planned. Of course, we plan to write a few posts about our trip.
As we live in Europe, we’ll be going via train. Different restrictions and rules also apply as we will not be visiting from a non-EU country. While some of these considerations relate more specifically to travel in Europe with a child, there are many that will apply no matter where you will be going.
1. Post-COVID travel is a misnomer
First, the pandemic is not over. Ergo, post-COVID travel is a misnomer. The Coronavirus is still here. Some places dealing with the situation quite well, while others are in their third wave. Many borders are still closed to tourists from some countries. Others have restrictions in place and might require tests or even quarantine before you are allowed to enter the country.
When planning your trip, make your decision based on best knowledge of the area you plan to visit. Check out the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs for your country and see whether there are any restrictions on travel to that area, and do the same for the country you plan to visit to ensure you will be allowed in.
When booking your tickets and hotels, don’t just go for the cheapest deal. Instead, look for one that you can change your booking if necessary without incurring additional fees. And while you are at it, buy some travel insurance, including health coverage.
We’d also recommend choosing accommodation that has the highest hygiene standards in place. Booking platforms such as booking.com have introduced extra hygiene ratings. Many large hotels also provide details on their websites on the measures they have in place.
As Paris is relatively close, we are taking advantage of the great train networks in Europe. While we have seat reservations, our tickets are flexible and can be changed easily if necessary. Our hotel booking is secured but can be cancelled on the intended day of travel without incurring a fee. And our German health insurance covers us while in France.
2. Research which restrictions are in place
Each country – and even cities and states within countries – have different restrictions still in place. Here in Europe, face masks are still required to visit most museums and even shops or supermarkets. In Germany, these must be medical grade masks. Masks are also required to use most public transport. Miss M does not have to wear a mask here (yet); she is practicing.
Some places require a recent negative Corona test or evidence of vaccination to enter the country or even to eat at an establishment. We are very lucky – I have had both of my vaccinations and will have my digital COVID certificate just before we go to Paris. Miss M is allowed to travel with me without a test or certificate because of her age. Be sure to check the requirements for children and what age limits apply.
Some other, not as obvious rules also apply. We are looking to do a boat tour while in Paris. We will need to take our own headphones to hear the commentary as they do not have any available. I was planning to only take my earbuds, but may have to revise my plans.
3. Check your transport
Post-COVID, travellers will likely find that flights and trains are still less frequent than they were. Some routes have been cut and others are yet to open up to full capacity. Be prepared to be a little more flexible when booking your travel.
Even local travel within a city or a region may be restricted. Trains may be less frequent or have capacity restrictions. Check online for details.
No one really wants to wear a mask for a whole plane or train trip. However, rules apply for the safety and well-being of all passengers and face masks must be worn in most cases. Airline and train staff are just enforcing the rules, as required by law. Be courteous – they are only doing their job.
4. Plan to spend more time outside
Fresh air is easiest. You get to avoid the additional restrictions and bookings and the need to wear masks. Often there is a lot of kid-friendly stuff to do outside, too, especially in Summer.
We are planning to spend quite a lot of time in the parks in Paris. the Jardin du Luxembourg is of course on our list, as is the Jardin du Plantes and its Dodo carousel. We’ll eat ice cream and stroll, and see the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower from outside, too. We also plan to see many of the sites in Miraculous, most of which are outside.
5. Book the must-sees
I normally don’t like booking too many things in advance in order to allow us to spend more time in places that catch our interest. Unless of course we are sure we want to see something and want to miss the queues. When travelling with kids, this is also one way to let them have more say in what you do.
Travel in the post-COVID world means having to book the must-sees for your trip in advance and accepting that some things may have to wait for your next trip. For traceability reasons, most zoos, museums and amusement parks, for example, are only accepting online bookings and tickets. For the Museum of Natural History, we even had to book a separate time slot to enter each gallery.
We’ve booked three things and will do the rest as they come. When we are there, the Eiffel Tower is closed. Other things may close at short notice, so we will have to keep updated with the situation and check each place the night before.
6. Go independent
Most people are doing it hard at the moment, but small, independent shops, hotels and restaurants have been struggling after being closed for months. Where we can, we’re planning to support small family restaurants and shops, rather than larger chains.
Tip well for good service, too, even if it is not expected in the country.
7. Consider the money situation
In order to reduce unnecessary contact, payment with credit or debit cards has become much more popular and is even requested. To this end, it is important to check that you have access to one of the most widely-accepted credit or debit cards in the country you intend to visit. Make sure you are aware of any foreign usage fees, too.
Visa and Mastercard are generally the most accepted cards in Europe. American Express or Discover cards are much less popular. Even countries like Germany, which preferred cash for smaller payments, has become more accepting of debit and credit cards because of the added safety/distance element.
Over the last few weeks, there seems to be a swing back the other way towards cash payments, especially for smaller amounts and smaller establishments. Keep this in mind and make sure you always have enough cash on hand for post-pandemic travel.
8. Take supplies
We have a fairly extensive free packing list for Europe, as well as a first-aid kit list (check out our Little helpers!). Still, there are some things that are not on our list that definitely should be (time for an update to take into account travel in a post-COVID world!).
- Face masks, with extras especially in Summer. Depending on where you are going, these may need to be medical masks.
- Hand sanitiser: Miss M has a bottle in her backpack, too
- Sanitary wipes to wipe down those surfaces you can’t use the hand sanitiser on
- A thermometer to check your temperature
- Coronavirus test kits, just in case – though depending on where you are travelling, you might want to get additional tests when you get to your destination (they are available for a few euro from supermarkets here); where one is needed here for entry, for example, it must be an official one
- A list of places near where you will be staying that provide free (official) Corona tests (we should not need this because I am vaccinated)
- A mobile phone or tablet or similar that you can use to regularly check on developments and restrictions as they change (don’t forget to get a case and screen protector for it to protect it while travelling)
9. Step back, take your time and enjoy
The pandemic has forced many of us to reevaluate our priorities, including when we travel. For all of the reasons above and more, travel in a post-COVID world will be very different to travel as we knew it.
Appreciate the fact that there are fewer tourists about rather than only focussing on restrictions or closures. Stop and admire the view and don’t focus on trying to take the perfect shot. Travel greener and leaner. After so long, it is wonderful to be able to travel again.
I’m letting Miss M choose most of what we do. We’ve made a Paris bucket list of things we want to see and eat and will tick them off as we do them. When we want to stop and see more of something, we will. And we’ll do our best to stay safe, no matter what we do.
Travel in a post-COVID world
There are many things to consider when planning a trip. However, travel in a post-COVID world means even more considerations, some of which are easily overlooked. Plan well, but be safe and enjoy being able to travel again.