With COVID-19 vaccines being administered in the U.S. and other countries, travel is starting to pick up again. Yeah! If you’re one of the many over 40 solo travelers dying to fly the friendly skies (yes, they are still friendly), use my 15 travel planning tips for successful solo travel during COVID-19.
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What to Know In Planning Solo Travel During COVID-19
I can understand if you’re asking, “Is it safe to solo travel during the COVID-19 pandemic?” With the roll out of vaccines combined with PPE safety measures, I believe it is safe to travel.
You already know why traveling solo during COVID-19 has multiple advantages so here I’ll share with you what I’ve learned in planning my first trip during COVID-19. Perhaps it will convince you to embark on travel again yourself.
Me? I’m off to Maui, Hawaii for some much needed R and R, and then on to Marin County, California to see friends and celebrate birthdays.
Even though Hawaii is in the U.S., and I’m fully vaccinated, I will admit planning this trip has presented some challenges, if not some stress. However, I’m not letting this keep me from travel. I just. Cant. Wait. Any. Longer.
Go ahead! Take advantage of my 15 tips to plan your solo travel during COVID-19, and after. I’m confident you’ll get the best results for your sorely needed vacation.
And don’t forget to stay tuned for my upcoming Maui blog post. Mahalo!
15 Planning Tips for the Best Travel During COVID-19
1. Plan as far in advance as possible.
I cannot stress this enough. This will help you book earlier and thereby save you money on flights and accommodations.
Airline ticket costs are slowly rising and flexibility to change flights without fees may be waning the more things get back to normal. Plan wisely to have to avoid making changes down the road. Check your cancellation and ticket change policies in advance before booking your flight.
Additionally, hotels are booking more quickly so the sooner you can book (I still recommend getting an accommodation with free cancellation), the more you’ll save.
2. Be flexible in your bookings.
Allow yourself a lot of leeway in time to get to airports and layover time between airports, especially if you need to be COVID-19 test for your destination.
United Airlines changed my flights on me three times to get to Hawaii and California. One change impacted my Hawaii departure flight where I had to leave a day earlier than planned. Yes, that meant I had to take more time off work. However, I needed to ensure I had enough time to COVID-19 test and get my negative results before my Maui flight left SFO.
3. Keep your travel destinations to a minimum.
This goes for international travel or any destination requiring COVID-19 testing. It can be quite a hassle to just get to point A (trust me), or to points A and B. Adding additional destinations may take all of the relaxation out of your vacation. You’re traveling for enjoyment (hopefully). Take the time to enjoy your destinations without stretching yourself too thin and stressing yourself out trying to keep up with multiple travel requirements and restrictions, especially if they could change on a dime.
4. Don’t assume being fully vaccinated gives you a free pass.
Just because your vaccinated, doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have to get COVID-19 tested to travel. Check your destination’s travel advisories. Ask your airline for assistance.
Hawaii has strict travel requirements, and I had to seek information on websites followed by multiple phone calls.
5. Check your accommodations’ COVID-19 measures.
See who is strictly adhering to COVID-19 protection measures. Are they following local or state or country mandates? Again, check cancellation policies if, for any reason, you don’t feel comfortable with the establishment’s safety measures.
6. Stay on top of your COVID-19 test(s).
This is a biggie. Like I said, it can be hassle to get the COVID-19 test for one destination. The hoops you have to jump through to ensure you’re following all of the guidelines can be stressful.
For my Hawaii trip, I had to schedule a specific type of COVID-19 test by an authorized test provider within 72 hours of my flight departing the mainland and having fully uploaded all required negative test results documentation onto the Hawaii website before my flight left, as well as uploading a QR code onto the Hawaii Safe app and having my same hard copy documents in my hand when I land in Hawaii. Whew! What happens if you don’t do all of this? You quarantine in Hawaii for 10 days. That’s not very “Aloha”.
7. Will you be able to dine out?
Just because restaurants or bars are open doesn’t mean there will be space for you. Many establishments have reduced capacity to 50%, or less, with reduced opening hours In order to remain open or reopen. This greatly cuts down the number of people they can normally serve. I’ve been running into this during my Maui planning.
If you know in advance where you want to dine, make sure to start making reservations. Early! If they are booked, don’t be afraid to call or ask if they have a wait list you can be on. I am.
If you do get in, make sure to adhere to the establishment’s mask wearing rules. The “no mask” is the new “No shirt, no shows, no service” rule.
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8. Where else will require reservations?
Limited capacity and reservation requirements could also be true for excursions and other activities.
For example, the dive shop I reserved boat diving through has reduced the boat capacity allowance by half. Additionally, the wine tasting venue I wish to visit has also a reduced capacity rule with the request to book tastings in advance. That is not common for wine tasting in general.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Even to the point where you are a squeaky wheel. I cannot tell you how many conversations I had with United Airlines about travel restrictions that it wasn’t until the umpteenth call where someone actually told me there’s a wrist band you get before you board. Uh, good to know!
You would think that the airlines would be bending over backwards to assist people to get on their planes now – with the financial losses they have incurred – but no. You truly have to keep asking questions and doing your own research. The more you do, the less unpleasant surprises you’ll have during your travel.
10. Consider getting travel insurance.
This may not go for ground travel, but for air and international travel – yes! This includes looking to see what is covered should your travel plans change due to COVID-19. Some policies may not cover COVID-19 related changes or cancellations.
11. Use the right credit card for bookings.
Book with a credit card that provides additional travel protections, and look to see if any of them include allowances for COVID-19 related travel changes.
12. Is medical and travel insurance required?
For international travel, do your research to know all travel restrictions for your destination (country-wide and local) and if medical insurance is required for your trip. With the impact to health care systems across countries during COVID-19, many countries are now requiring travelers to have their own medical insurance before entry. This wasn’t the case before COVID-19. Even when COVID-19 is long gone, getting your own medical insurance is a wise idea.
13. Pack wisely.
If you can, travel carry-on only while flying. Having your belongings with you would be ideal should you happen to test positive for COVID-19 and get stuck in your current location. It wouldn’t help you if your belongings were off to your vacation without you.
Also, don’t forget to bring additional PPE: more than one mask, gloves, eco-friendly wipes, and organic hand sanitizer. Note, TSA allows up to 12 oz of hand sanitizer in addition to the quart-sized bag of liquids.
14. Get vaccinated.
I’m not telling you what to do, but let’s face it – if you really want to travel, being fully vaccinated is going to make your life easier for solo travel during COVID-19. There is already talk about COVID-19 vaccine passports, and there are already countries allowing entry to fully vaccinated Americans.
Plus, being vaccinated reduces your chance of contracting COVID-19 and testing positive, which will undoubtedly ruin your vacation.
15. Stay alert on COVID-19 requirements and advisories.
Last, but not least, always be on top of the COVID-19 travel requirements and advisories. As I stated before, Hawaii not only has requirements for entry, but it also has requirements for conduct during your visit, such as mask wearing indoors and staying physically distanced. Go further to see if a particular city or county/region has additional requirements. This will help you decide if you really want to go there or not, as well as help you plan.
Know where to find these COVID-19 requirements and advisories for your travel destination and your airline, and consult the U.S. Department of State, TSA COVID-19 guidelines, and the CDC travel guidelines. If you’re adhering to these, then you’re all set to enjoy your trip.
Yes, it may seem like a lot to figure out just to travel during COVID-19. And, well, it is. However, don’t let that deter you from making plans for a much needed trip. If you’re like me, you could really use one. Hence, I’m off to Maui. Aloha!
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if this post was helpful for you to plan your solo travel during COVID-19. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!