Travel is usually our go-to stressbuster, and we have been holding back on it for the past eight months. Finally, after carefully reviewing the pros and cons, we went on a driving holiday last week, and had a fantastic time. Planning and executing the trip was very different from how we usually do it – so here are 10 points we learned from our pandemic holiday!
10. Plan, plan, then plan some more!
Plan everything out clearly – how you are traveling, what route you are taking, where you are staying. This will help you make sure the places where you are going to spend the most time are also the safest places. We opted for a driving holiday from Hyderabad to Hampi – any other form of travel would have involved contact with more numbers of people than we were comfortable with.
09. Keep the objective in mind – it’s a holiday, not a to-do list!
The objective of a holiday is to relax and have fun. If you have a packed activity list, consider trimming it down to include more downtime. Because of the pandemic, many activities will be unavailable or restricted, and anything that involves encountering more people is best avoided. Also, stressing out because you didn’t get to something on your list is not compatible with the objectives of going on a holiday!
08. Overprepare for everything
I cannot stress on this enough. Stock up on everything, especially on sanitisation supplies. Hand sanitiser, surface disinfectant sprays, masks (both reusable and disposable), disposable gloves, disinfectant wipes – make sure you have plenty of these, and some more as back up.
07. Sanitise, sanitise, sanitise
This is important to follow rigorously – thankfully, it becomes second nature rather quickly. Scrupulously sanitise everything. Door handles, surfaces you are going to sit on or put your things on, chairs and table tops in a restaurant, your car door handle before opening it – everything, really. If you’re in a situation where you’re using a bathroom in a common place, wear gloves and spray every surface before you use it. Liberally use sanitiser after you use the bathroom. Of course, handwashing whenever you have been in contact with any surface is highly recommended.
06. Keep your priorities straight – safety first
We always have things associated with travel we want to do. However, always put safety first. Tender coconut seller under a tree and you want your fix? If there is a crowd, move on. Are you stopping at your favourite temple on the way out of town? Make sure a proper COVID-safe stop is possible. If not, worship from a distance and move on. Prioritise safety always.
05. You can never have too much information
Before going to a place, always find out as much as you can about it. Ask your hotel or resort what precautions they take before making a booking. If you’re not satisfied, book a different place. Look for information about the activities you want to do – even if it’s just lazing in the resort – they might have stopped or limited some activities. Once you have enough information, you can have the right expectations and make your plans accordingly.
04. Stay in a secure biobubble
This is central to the whole experience. Always maintain the biosecurity of your space – your car during travel, and your room at the place you stay. Do this by ensuring you sanitise every time you enter it, and are protected every time you leave it. If you have someone entering it (like a room service person, for example), make sure they are properly masked and gloved, and anything they bring in is safely sanitised before being touched. In Hampi, we stayed in a spread out resort with large open spaces – this helped us keep our distance from staff as well as other guests (very few of them) even as we enjoyed strolling around in the nice weather.
This is also why it’s important to select a place to stay that takes these things seriously – you have to be sure your room is sanitised whenever it’s cleaned, or when you get fresh supplies.
03. Enforce mask-wearing and sanitisation
Wearing appropriate face coverings at all times when interacting with others or being in public spaces is paramount. If you encounter anyone you have to interact with (a shopkeeper or a waiter or a person behind the ticket counter) who is not masked, insist that they wear a mask (properly) and sanitise their hands before and after interacting with you. Be polite but firm about this, and be prepared to walk away if your request is not fulfilled. In a couple of sightseeing places we went to in Hampi, the ticket counter personnel or shopkeepers had their masks under their noses, but were prompt to correct when we pointed it out.
02. Remain within the law
Different locations have different regulations when it comes to COVID. Make sure you know what the local requirements are when you travel, and make sure you’re always in compliance. If a place requires that you have tested negative, make sure you’re carrying the appropriate results or certificates with you. Not being compliant with local laws can lead to stress and penalties that are avoidable. Usually, your hotel or resort can advise you about the local requirements. Additionally, do your own research and be doubly sure about this. Our resort in Hampi required a temperature check and self-declaration upon check in, and we had ensured beforehand that this was all that was required to prevent any surprises.
01. Enjoy yourself!
This is perhaps the most important part – after all, what is the point of taking all this care and not having a good time on your holiday! One of the big advantages of being confident in your safety is that it removes any COVID anxiety you might have, and allows you to have a relaxed time.
We followed all of these and went on a holiday – read all about it here: