It is that time of the year, every year that is, when everyone decides to set out on a vacation. But not in 2020: thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. The virus and the subsequent lockdown has rained down on any plans that you may have had in mind. Eight months down the line, however, there was some amount of decline witnessed in the number of cases.
The government is relaxing the stringent lockdown restrictions that kept us cooped up in our homes. Life seems to be getting back to normal: shops are opening, travel laws are more liberal and tourist spots are coming back to life again. With all this happening, these questions pop up:
Is it safe to go on holiday just yet?
If yes, what do I need to keep in mind?
To put it bluntly, it’s not entirely safe to go on holiday just yet. Until we have a vaccine that works, the threat of Covid infection still looms large. So it’s in your best interest to consider how much you really need a vacation. However, if you’ve resolved to set out on your much-delayed holiday, there are a few things you must keep in mind.
Where To Go
Maybe your idea of a holiday is to simply set out on an impromptu trip, but given the scenario we’re in right now, it’s a very bad idea. Whether you’re setting out on a trip with your friends, family or solo, planning your holiday is of paramount importance. Avoid international travel as far as possible. But if you really want to, be up-to-date on the travel regulations of India and the visiting country.
Inter-state travel is allowed, but different states have mandated different rules — e-passes, registering on the respective state’s e-portals, carrying a coronavirus negative certificate and even a 14-day quarantine. Bear in mind that these rules tend to change dynamically, so you’ll need to keep yourself updated. So the best idea would be to holiday in a spot in close proximity to your city.
Since social distancing and isolation is of essence, you want to travel and stay in more offbeat locations. They’ll be just as good, minus the throng of tourists. Maybe go camping or hiking, you’ll be away from unfamiliar people. Also, an outdoor trip means lesser risk of transmitting the virus as the particles disperse in the air.
Where To Stay
Not just where to go, you also need to take due care while booking a place to stay. Look for hotels/resorts that strictly adhere to Covid safety regulations. Trained staff wearing personal protective equipment, regular disinfection of the premises and sanitization of high touch surfaces, minimal social interaction, insisting guests to follow the rules — these are all things you need to look out for.
Most hotel websites would tell you how they’ve prepared themselves for the pandemic. If you’re going on holiday with a group of friends/family, it’ll be better to rent a villa for yourself because that minimizes the risk of you having to come in contact with other guests, which is inevitable in hotels. But if you’re traveling solo, masks and social distancing are the way to go.
With Whom To Go
As far as Covid is concerned, there’s one thing: the more people you’re with, the greater the risk of infection. So if you’re set on having that holiday trip, it’s best that you keep your circle small. Invite only your closest friends, preferably less than five of them – and those whom you’ve met often during the lockdown. You’ll be a lot safer holidaying with the same group than with different people.
For added precaution, what you can do is avoid social contact with anyone outside your house for at least 14 days before your trip and ask your friends to follow suit. This way, all of you can be quite sure of being isolated from the risk of transmission and you can travel safely.
Given the current situation, it becomes more than important to get a health checkup done before you set out on a holiday. Those having any underlying medical conditions are at greater risk, so for them, it’s best to skip this trip. The same applies for those over the age of 65 and under 10.
How To Go
With all the preparations for your holiday done – subject to Covid precautions that is, you’re now ready to set out. But how do you get to your destination? You have three options: Road, trains and flight.
Flights are beyond doubt the fastest mode of travel, and airline companies do take social distancing and the disinfection of planes very seriously. Additionally, health experts say that traveling in planes is quite safe. However, you’re likely to be hounded by the many regulations pertaining to Covid safety — the biggest among them is the 14-day quarantine — even for domestic flights in certain states. Unless you want to stay in home/institutionalized quarantine instead of enjoying your holiday, make sure that you’re aware of all the rules.
Trains may normally make for a nice mode of travel for those who want to watch the countryside go by without the responsibility of driving. However, trains are still public transport, so there’s always a risk of infection. In the months following the lockdown, the government has started launching special train services with Covid-specific restrictions including thermal screenings, compulsory masks and the Aarogya Setu app to be installed on one’s phone.
As we recommended earlier, it’s best to choose a destination that’s close to home. So, a road trip would be ideal. If you’re traveling interstate, have all the documentations mandated by the state you’re visiting.
As far as possible, avoid traveling in public transport. Various states have gradually opened up bus services, but there’s still that risk of infection in public transport. Personal vehicles are the way to go and don’t seat too many people in your vehicle – it’s illegal and you’ll be stopped at the state border. Also, keeping Covid in mind, you don’t want too many people in a cramped space either.
Personal vehicles are highly preferable because you can choose who gets to sit with you and ensure that all your Covid safety norms are followed. If you’re traveling alone, make sure that you take enough breaks and if you’re stepping out of the vehicle in a public place, have your mask on.
With Covid sure to not go away soon, the safest way to enjoy your holiday is to stay at home and simply wait out the pandemic. But yes, for those wishing to step out after months of doing the said waiting out, practising social distancing is key. Don’t go too far with too many people and avoid unfamiliar people altogether, you should be fine. Also, have enough sanitizer on you or wash your hands for at least 20 seconds regularly. Most importantly: if you feel sick before a trip, cancel it. If you feel sick during a trip, seek help immediately! After all, you don’t want to risk your own safety and those around you.