The vaccine rollout, lifting of mask mandates and reopening borders comes just in time for the summer travel season. Airlines and hotels have seen a surge in bookings as everyone (myself included) takes some much needed vacation time. While it is fantastic to leave the house for more than groceries, things in the world of travel have changed a lot. Here are some post-covid travel tips to make your first escape safe and hassle free.
Lets Talk About Masks
The biggest thing is to remember to bring a mask or two. Even though fully vaccinated individuals can now go out in public without one, you will still need a mask when traveling. Federal law requires a mask in the airport and on board planes and trains. If wearing a mask isn’t something you enjoy doing, best wait to book that summer getaway- this requirement doesn’t look like it will be changing soon.
You will need to have an appropriate mask from the moment you enter an airport until you leave at your destination and at all times in between.
Those who do not comply have been removed from flights after causing delays, and several people have now been issues hefty fines from the FAA for non-compliance. If you don’t want to, or are not able to wear a mask for the whole time you are traveling it is probably best to not travel yet. It isn’t comfortable (advice on that below) but it is the law.
Cut Travel Time; Book Nonstop
Do what you can to reduce over all travel time and book nonstop tickets whenever possible. Adding a layover only adds more people and points of exposure, plus adds a lot more time wearing a mask. Since you need to keep your mask on throughout the whole travel experience in the airport, during a layover, and onboard, I highly recommend doing what you can to reduce travel time.
I recently flew from Denver to Boston with a 3hr layover in Baltimore, and I can say it was not enjoyable. The mask went on at 3:30am Denver time when I got on the train to the airport and stayed on until I got off a bus leaving Boston that evening since it is required all modes of transit, even the metro and bus. That is a long time to be breathing through an itchy mask.
Expect your Plane/Train/Bus to be Full
The days of airlines (and others) guaranteeing limited capacity and open middle seats for social distancing are gone. Most airlines are now selling every seat on their flights to start making some money back, and it seems to be working. All of my recent flights have been over 90% full and most were sold out completely. This isn’t the case for all flights of course, but don’t expect to have an open middle seat.
Check COVID Restrictions at your Destination
Things are changing fast these days. Don’t forget that because things have opened up where you are doesn’t mean the same will be true at your destination. Also be aware that policies can change at any time. Travel prepared for anything and be flexible. Not all attractions are going to be open. Not all restaurants will be doing indoor seating. Do as much research as you can before booking and make sure you can get into all the places on your list.
Rental Car Shortage
I wont go into all the crazy details that resulted in this, but there is currently a massive rental car shortage. In short, many companies sold off cars during covid and now don’t have the supply to meet the current travel boom. As a result prices have skyrocketed and availability is not guaranteed.
If you are planning to hire a car, you may want to check on that now and see if it is feasible. Prices were so absurd in Denver that my brother an I stuck to public transit and ride shares. The cost of our daily rail passes and various Lyft rides throughout the week were probably about the same price as a 1 or 2 day car rental. We absolutely missed the convenience of having a car to explore the area, but we also weren’t about to pay over $100 a day for a car before the cost of gas and hotel parking.
You might want to bring some. While hand sanitizer stations have become pretty ubiquitous these days, bringing a bottle and pack of wipes can always come in handy.
Most importantly, the TSA is currently allowing people to bring a 12oz bottle of hand sanitizer through security in addition to your regular 3.4oz liquid allowance. It will have to come out of your bag and be screen separately, but you can bring it through. You can expect this to add some extra to your security screening.
Travel can be stressful at the best of times. As always, be kind and be patient. Listen to your flight attendants, be mindful of those around you, and be understanding when/if plans change.
Share your tips below!
Traveled recently? Have questions this post didn’t answer? Share your experience or questions in the comments below!