lessons from pandemic

Planning a trip: 4 lessons to keep in mind that COVID-19 pandemic taught us

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“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous

Among the many joys of life, travelling is second to none. When you travel, you not only learn about the history and culture of that place but also discover who you really are.

Travelling shapes us as individuals and helps us connect with ourselves and others. That’s why travelling is seen as a necessity and not a luxury. But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, everything changed overnight. International borders were sealed and flights were suspended. These scenes seemed to be straight out of a post-apocalyptic film.

In 2021, while global rollouts of vaccines have given some hope for the travel and tourism industry to get back on its feet, tourism experts don’t expect a return to pre-COVID levels until 2023 or later, as per a United Nations World Tourism Organization report.

If you were planning for a vacation anytime soon, you may have to think again.

While domestic tourism has restarted in many countries, including India, there is still a lot of uncertainty around the pandemic and fears of new variants. Whether you are a seasoned traveller or not, people are unsure about travelling in these circumstances. And those who do want to travel must do so keeping all the safety precautions and travel guidelines in mind.

In this feature, Soulveda takes a deep dive into how the pandemic has changed the way we travel, lessons we learned, and things to remember when planning any prospective trips.

Respect the safety regulations

Before you plan your next trip, check the travel regulations of the place you intend to visit. Find out if it’s safe to travel there. Check if the infection is spreading in that region and read up on quarantine and testing requirements. Most importantly, do not risk travelling if you and your family members are sick or exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms.

Essentially, you should get vaccinated before even considering travelling somewhere. Stay updated with the requirements of the place and find out the available options, right from accommodation to food and transport. Bear in mind that some services may still not be available on a full-fledged scale and some tourist spots and attractions may be out of bounds for travellers. While travelling, maintain social distance and wear masks even if you are vaccinated. Do not put yourself and others at risk by behaving callously. Travel responsibly and mindfully.

Pay attention to personal hygiene

While we all know about the importance of personal hygiene, now is the time to become far more conscious about it. Since last year, health experts have emphasised the need to focus on basic hygiene measures such as washing hands properly and wearing masks. This becomes even more crucial when you plan your next trip.

Irrespective of the mode of transport, it’s not possible to avoid every germ. But you can still prevent the risk of infection by ensuring proper hygiene. It’s advisable to carry a few bottles of hand sanitisers while travelling, to avoid any infection. Wear a mask wherever you go. These precautions will only help you and your loved ones in these times of uncertainty.

Be responsible towards the environment

When the lockdowns were first imposed, cities across the world witnessed a significant fall in environmental pollution. Improved air quality, reduced greenhouse emissions, and less noise pollution are some of the positive effects of the lockdowns. Such was the impact that people were able to see the snowy peaks of the Himalayas from various Indian cities for the first time in decades.

Now, as many people have started travelling again, it is our responsibility to ensure we travel sustainably and be more conscious about the environment. Whether you are travelling to the mountains or planning a beach escapade, respect nature and don’t litter the surroundings. Instead of renting cabs for every local excursion, try to walk or rent a bicycle. Avoid plastic bags and other items as much as possible.

Support the local economy

The pandemic has adversely affected the global tourism industry with losses exceeding trillions of dollars. Many businesses were permanently shut, people lost their livelihoods and local communities struggled in the absence of tourist influx. As many places are opening up again, we can do our bit to support the local economies wherever we travel.

Wondering how? While planning a trip, opt for locally owned accommodations such as homestays and BnBs. Shop from small businesses, dine at local restaurants and cafés. If you feel you alone can’t make a difference, think again. Every drop counts, especially now when every tiny bit of support can do wonders to boost local economies.

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