When is it safe to travel again ?

Thanks to Covid-19 our travels have been put on hold, and yet our recent survey showed that most of us want to travel again ASAP. When will that be? Lyn Hughes tackles the question on all of our minds..

When can we travel again?

A number of factors will be involved. Lockdown will need to be over. Britons will need the FCO to lift its current advice against all non-essential travel. If you go against this advice you will find your travel insurance is invalid. Some other countries have similar advisories in place. 

Many in tourism are predicting that we’ll be able to travel again in time for the July/August peak season, others are suggesting that September onwards is more likely. 

Where will we be able to travel?

It won’t be like a switch is turned on and we can suddenly go anywhere we want again! Countries may not want us straightaway and will open themselves to tourists at different times. Even if they are open to visitors, there may well be restrictions in place. For instance, visitors from countries which have had a high number of cases of Covid-19 may be banned initially; this would include the UK and USA. It’s also been suggested that countries may insist on testing passengers on arrival. 

Some countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, have announced they may stay closed for a long time. Argentina has banned all fights until September. However the tourism businesses within these countries will be desperate to welcome visitors back if they are to keep going. So they will be lobbying their governments to open.  

Transport providers will need to be operating the routes again, and that might not happen overnight either. Take the airline industry; a lot of planes have been put in storage. British Airways have announced thousands of redundancies. 

Flights won’t be brought back unless the airline is confident that there are enough people (and/or cargo) wanting to travel the route for it to make sense. Trains, ferries and cruise ships will also be operating a reduced service until numbers return.

So, can I go ahead and book something? 

With no guarantees about when and where we can travel, do make sure that anything you book now can be deferred easily and without charge if necessary.

Will you get a full refund if you do have to cancel? Now, more than ever, is when it makes sense to use a reputable fully-bonded tour operator or travel agent. 

Will there be any good travel deals? 

Yes and no. Some tourism organisations will be offering attractive discounts to encourage visitors back. On the other hand, other businesses may have to increase their rates as they struggle with the economic impact of the pandemic and with any measures they bring in to keep us safe. 

Airlines have been particularly badly hit and have warned that the combination of that, plus social distancing measures that at least some of them are planning to put in place, may involve big price hikes, at least initially. 

What about my safety? Do I need to think about social distancing and hygiene?

Much of the tourism sector is looking at what will be needed once we can travel again. You can expect social distancing to be practised by responsible businesses. Not that it will come easily to some. As one Uruguayan company told me, “Social distancing is difficult when you’re a kissing culture!”

Many hotels are arranging deep cleans while they’re on lockdown, and new protocols are being introduced by good businesses who are looking at everything from your airport transfer to the activities you do to keep you safe. 

As ever, choose your travel providers with care, ask any questions in advance, and address any concerns to them at the time. But, most of all, use your common sense.

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