By Kuku Samson
According to the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS), a local organization that stands with and helps independent travel agencies within the country, travelling as we know it, has undergone a major overhaul due to the onslaught of the global health pandemic. Here are the changes travelers must be familiar with as they go from point A to point B:
More health and safety measures. In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, airports, airlines, and hotels have enforced new health and safety measures for the good of all. Among them are mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing, temperature checks, as well as increased cleaning and sanitation.
More restrictions and requirements. Countries around the world have imposed travel restrictions and requirements – for example, mandatory quarantine periods, negative COVID-19 test results, and travel authorization forms. To avoid inconvenience, travelers should update themselves with the latest travel advisories and requirements of their destination prior to booking their trip.
Changes to transportation. Air travel took a beating as airlines reduced their flight schedules and even implementing new policies such as blocked middle seats and reduced in-flight services. The change has paved the way to exploring other modes of transportation, such as road trips or RV rentals.
Opened doors in travel preferences. The pandemic made people rethink about options not commonly found in their travel radar. It has made them reconsider options such as outdoor activities and destinations such as national parks and beaches where they could observe social distancing. Domestic travel was given a second look.
Flexible booking policies. To meet its customers halfway, a lot of travel providers are becoming flexible with booking policies such as free cancellations and rescheduling options. It is best to check the cancellation policies before a trip.
Digitalization of Travel. The use of digital technologies became more prevalent to address travel concerns. Digital boarding, contactless check-ins, and mobile payment options are all examples of the digitalization of travel.
In the midst of all these protocols and restrictions also comes a newfound appreciation for traveling. People are now more fully aware of the importance of observing health protocols to keep everyone safe. It brought appreciation to the joy and privilege traveling brings.
Traveling is seen as a way to understand life and a journey towards self-discovery. It opened the doors for slow travel. Attitude-wise, it promoted the mental flexibility not to be frustrated when things do not go as planned.