Many of us are more than ready to travel again. Yet, planning a trip right now requires a lot of flexibility: when and where to go, how to get there, what can you do after the arrival and what must be done before you come back home.
Where to go and how to get there
First off, be flexible: The country, region, city or even suburb you were planning to visit may become a newest COVID-19 hotspot. In such case, and possibly at the last minute, you must decide to either stick with your original plans, swap it for another destination nearby, or cancel / postpone. It may also be that some of those decisions are made for you by the authorities. So be prepared to be flexible and have backup plans.
Next, think what to bring with you: disinfectant wipes, sanitizing hand gel, maybe even a big bottle of water.
Be flexible about where to stay. On one hand, a rental house or B&B is may give you more control over common areas than a hotel. The flip side of this choice is that hotels – especially the major chain ones – have much stricter and better cleaning protocols than private house or B&B rentals.
What to do when you arrive
Again, be flexible. For example, a trip focused on theme parks, museums, theater – even beaches – is entirely out of your control whether those venues are open or closed. So make sure that you have a plan B (and probably a plan C, D and E) for the trip.
Carefully consider what you plan to do if you have to quarantine on arrival or on your return (more likely). Could you work from home for 5-10 days once you get back? Would you be happy to sit around in a French rental or Italian villa enjoying local food and wine if everything was closed?
What to do before coming back home
Identify and get appointment for a COVID test at a local pharmacy (preferred, quick and inexpensive) or at the airport (convenient but expensive). Right now, the US accepted any test taken no later than 1 day prior to your return date.
Figure out how and where to get masks, as well as the logistics for disposing of used masks. Make sure that you know what kinds of masks are allowed in each country.
Think about what snacks to pack to have basic food provisions in case local eatery is closed. Always pack few nut bars or something similar.
Lastly, identify triggers that will make you call off the trip entirely. This will be different for every traveler and indeed every trip: if you’re planning to simply sun yourself in your Spanish cousins’ garden for a couple of weeks, that will be different from if you were planning a city trip.