Traveling in the time of Covid

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Slow travel on a budget

By Patrick Robertson

Tourist travel has changed dramatically as a result of the Covid pandemic.

When the pandemic was first declared, tourist travel around the world quickly came to a halt. Two years after the start of the pandemic, tourist travel is restarting. In some areas, tourist visits are exceeding pre-pandemic numbers.

The biggest change we’ve seen is the move towards inner journeys.

More and more people are choosing not to go on international or even national vacations. They choose local domestic trips instead.

Expect higher prices for accommodation and flights through summer. With restrictions on the size of events, family and friends rent large spaces to gather everyone. This will increase the cost of renting these already expensive places.

When traveling abroad, it is imperative to understand the health restrictions and procedures on arrival and departure.

Each country has its own admission requirements which must be strictly followed. Canada in turn has its own re-entry requirements for each country you are departing from. Failure to comply will lead to major problems; detention and quarantine for sure and denied re-entry are a good possibility.

Flight cancellations are another major obstacle to air travel right now. The frequency has increased as more airline staff fall ill. There is a severe shortage of personnel across the industry. Canceled and delayed flights on all airlines are common. Be prepared for this to happen to you as this is a roll of the dice.

Part of the journey now is planning as if you have to spend an extra week or two due to Covid restrictions. For people who have to go back to work, it’s a big planning issue. For those who don’t, it’s a financial problem. You may now have to pay $500 per night for accommodation instead of the package price of $200. Every 10 days is $5,000.

Insurance is even more important than before. There are so many other things that can go wrong on a trip, especially overseas.

Now we need Covid insurance in case we get it while traveling. We need broader and more expensive flight and accommodation cancellation policies that allow you to cancel for any reason. And you need long-term living expenses insurance if you’re stuck where you’re going. All this adds to the cost of your trip. I cringe when I hear of people traveling without proper insurance.

On the plus side, accommodation prices and crowds are all down since before the pandemic. When Thailand reopened in July, hotel rooms were offered for $1 a night. Amid the pandemic, international travel to Thailand has fallen from 40 million to 100,000. The usually crowded places were deserted. Friends of mine who were in Italy in the fall loved the low traffic areas. The only tourists encountered were local tourists. It was like the Italy of old before mass tourism.

Within each cloud is a silver lining.

The cloud created by the Covid pandemic is going to be hanging over us for some time to come if past pandemics are any indication. This pandemic is going to be a watershed moment in many people’s lives as we learn to live with the ever-changing virus particle that, within months, brought the world to its knees.

–Patrick Robertson is a travel writer and longtime resident of Fernie. He is an expert in independent travel planning and finding budget travel deals. Visit their tools page at www.budgetslowtravel.com/tools for powerful planning tools to book your entire trip. Like him on Facebook for weekly tips.


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