3 tips for choosing safe accommodations during a pandemic
Depending on where you live, the world is either opening up or hunkering down for more weeks of quarantine. Regardless of the status of cases in your state, you can still travel safely. The key is local travel. Travel experts say that domestic road trips and local family vacations are the near future for tourism.
Here are three things you should consider before deciding where to stay on your next trip.
Cleaning policies differ per hotel, but most hotel chains have put stringent new policies in place to keep guests safe. For example, Hilton started a clean initiative to ensure a sanitized room. As part of Hilton’s CleanStay initiative, the cleaning staff seals the door after cleaning so that by the time of check-in, you can be assured that no one has entered your room since cleaning. Other hotel chains are only putting guests in alternating rooms to ensure that social distancing can be followed at all times. While the cleanliness of your room may be guaranteed, many other prevention factors go into your stay at a hotel.
Airbnb has also upped the ante in the new world of sanitized stays. In response to the crisis, in late April, Airbnb announced an Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, which they call, "the first overarching standardized protocol for cleaning and sanitization in the home-sharing industry." Hosts of Airbnb’s can select which category of cleaning they have met as part of their home-share profile. To reach the highest category, a host must enroll in a learning and certification program. Through this new set up, a host can now guarantee the professional sanitation of their home through the badge on their profile.
2. Contact With Others
The biggest issue with staying at a hotel is the proximity to other people. Hotels require an in-person check-in. Even if there is an option for a contactless check-in, there are many other aspects that raise the risk of hotel-stay, because so many other people are staying in the same hotel. While masks can help defer the spread of the virus, there must be a consideration for human error. Elevator buttons, lobbies, doorknobs, and even hotel-keys are breeding grounds for coronavirus germs. There are too many factors at play for a hotel guest to completely reduce the risk of potential contact.
Airbnb has already mastered the art of contactless stay. Even before the virus, a renter could arrive and check-in at an Airbnb without ever seeing another person. This looks like checking-in through the app, and directions for the stay sent through email. The stay in an Airbnb also opens the opportunity to stay in an isolated area of the country, ensuring the safety of your group of travelers. The risks are drastically reduced compared to a hotel in regard to contact with others.
How long could you be quarantined to just a hotel room? If you get stuck in a hotel due to an unforeseen spike in cases during your trip, how well could you survive? With hotels’ lack of amenities, I am assuming not very long. Pair that with the cost of room service, and it is clear how difficult quarantining in a hotel would be. Even on a normal trip, the chances of your group leaving the rooms for food are very high.
Airbnb’s typically come with kitchens and full amenities in them. This gives you the ability to completely quarantine very similarly to how you would operate if quarantined in the comfort of your home. Furthermore, you could book an Airbnb near hiking trails or natural wonders so your activities could be socially distanced.
Photographer: Casey Martin/Shutterstock
Sometimes you need to hit the road, especially to escape this pandemic for a while. When you do, aim for being as safe as possible and bringing as little harm to the world around you at the same time.
Anne Florence Brown is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a Senior at the University of Mississippi.
Lonely Planet's expert recommendations are coming to Apple Maps
Lonely Planet has announced plans to provide curated content through a new Apple Maps feature, which was revealed at Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference this week. Launching later this year through software updates for iPhone, iPad, and Mac, users will be able to access initial collections for San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and London. As travel plans remain uncertain, the collections feature solo and outdoor activities that can be enjoyed while national lockdowns lift. They will feature insider tips so users can check out the most iconic architecture, spectacular day hikes and scenic running routes in their destination. Find out where to see street art, like Clarion Alley in the Mission District of San Francisco © Federica Grassi / Getty ImagesThe collections will begin with San Francisco, where travelers can discover the city’s public art and vibrant street murals, its most idyllic parks, and most prized food trucks, all through Apple Maps. From there, the collections will extend to other top cities, where users can learn about New York’s cult-status coffee shops, where to find LA’s finest ice cream shops, or how to enjoy London’s best free experiences. Lonely Planet ✔@lonelyplanet We’re excited to announce our collaboration with Apple Maps. Starting with San Francisco, then followed by other cities, Lonely Planet will offer a series of curated places to help you discover your neighborhood and beyond. Available on the redesigned Apple Maps app this fall. 60 5:30 PM - Jun 22, 2020 Twitter Ads info and privacy “Lonely Planet has always focused on the needs of travelers and we constantly seek ways to improve and ease their experiences. We reach hundreds of millions of travelers each year through our printed guides, online and through our own mobile products and we are thrilled to offer one more way for people to discover the world around them," says CEO Luis Cabrera.
Essential questions to ask before planning that post-COVID trip
The coronavirus has quickly upended the world of travel, and it undoubtedly will have a lasting impact on the industry moving forward – travelers will need to keep some extra considerations in mind before booking their trips. Here are some questions we'll all need to ask before we take to the road and skies once again. What can I do to prevent spreading illness when I travel? When you travel, you come into contact with dozens of people throughout your journey: the TSA agents at the airport, the taxi driver in your destination, the hotel employees at the front desk. Our future trips should not only prioritize our own safety, but the safety of others; how can we be best prepared? Airlines are already requiring travelers to don masks during their flights, and it might be good practice to keep masks handy on any trips moving forward, even if they aren’t mandatory; they’ll be handy to have in any crowded space. Create a travel bag with sanitizing essentials for cleaning your spaces and surfaces when you arrive and when you leave. Once you’re in your destination, prioritize washing your hands and avoid touching shared surfaces if possible. Is my destination at risk for overtourism? What could that mean for public health? The issue of overtourism was a hot topic in the travelsphere prior to the coronavirus pandemic, and images of some of the world’s most crowded destinations have gone viral thanks to their uncharacteristic emptiness – the streets of Rome, Times Square, Angkor Wat and the beaches of Rio are all devoid of the visitors that they are known for. That said, such popular landmarks will present new risks once travel resumes; since many are public spaces, regulation of crowds could prove to be difficult. Steering clear of historically overtouristed sights will be an important step in risk mitigation. Is my destination home to vulnerable populations without adequate medical care? What is my potential impact? As the pandemic has shown, every country varies in its ability to handle and contain a widespread illness; even the most developed healthcare systems nearly buckled under the weight of the crisis. When we travel, we have to recognize that we might carry a contagion with us, and while some places might have the infrastructure to deal with the potential fallout, many do not. If you’re considering visiting a place where healthcare systems are strained and facilities are rare, put off making the trip and contribute to the economy in another way for now. Many people around the world struggle with healthcare access under normal circumstances, and an introduced illness could prove disastrous for their communities. Does my travel insurance cover international healthcare treatment, emergency evacuation or quarantine measures? It’s likely that travel insurance will become more important than ever, and picking the right policy means reading all the fine print about your coverage, particularly when it comes to your health. Some of the more general policies focus on travel logistics rather than healthcare, things like trip cancellations, lost luggage and broken equipment; we suggest looking at the specifics regarding treatment in international hospitals and emergency evacuation, and investing a bit more in your policy to get higher coverage. Healthcare can be expensive, and while $10,000 worth of medical coverage sounds like a lot, the cost of serious procedures can potentially be much more. Similarly, it’s worth calling and asking about unexpected quarantine costs; if you are screened and test positive for fever or illness and must be quarantined while traveling, will subsequent cancellations, trip adjustments and costs be covered? Do I have enough savings to cover unforeseen emergency costs while on the road? With doctors and scientists worried about subsequent waves of illness in the future, having a nest egg of savings ready before you hit the road could help you avoid a financial emergency should another crisis be set in motion. If your travel insurance is minimal, you will be responsible for any major illness- and quarantine-related costs incurred during your travels. Factoring in an emergency fund when you are trip planning could save you a lot of stress, should travel suddenly be limited or changed due to world health developments. What can I do to support local businesses hurting from lack of business during quarantine? The global economic fallout from the coronavirus quarantine has thrown a harsh light on the precarious positions of small businesses in the world market. Many have faced permanent closure, and those that are left are operating on a fraction of their already thin margin, hoping to wait it out. Investing in sustainable travel that feeds directly back into the communities is more important than ever. Once it’s time to book your first post-COVID trip, prioritize local hotels, restaurants and experience providers rather than international brands and chains – your dollars will provide much needed relief from quarantine financial hardship How can I be a more environmentally conscious traveler post-COVID? While dolphins may not actually be returning to Venice canals, the quarantine has revealed just how much of an impact our travels have on the environment. Phenomena like smog reduction, plant regrowth and more visible wildlife have all highlighted the fact that our impact is significant and wide-reaching. For your next trips, consider the “slow” approach to travel, opting for destinations that are geographically closer to you and transport methods with fewer emissions. Ask yourself: how can I preserve the positive environmental changes that have been made during this time of stillness? Which of my old habits were the most damaging and how can I avoid them? The quarantine has given us a chance to look hard at our travel methods and consider better ones for the future.
What are health passports and will they help you travel again?
Some governments are mulling over the possibility of providing people with health passports to enable them to travel again. Authorities in Greece say they could open the country's borders to tourists who arrive with health passports: electronic documents that certify an individual's health status and confirm that they have tested negative for COVID-19. Travellers would present the document on their smartphones before boarding their flight or ferry and would then have their temperatures checked once they land. Popular tourist destinations such as Sardinia, Capri and Ischia in Italy, and the Balearic Islands in Spain are considering similar measures. Read more: Greece eyes opening hotels in July – here's what travellers can expect Islands such as Ischia are considering the possibility of health passports to allow visitors ©Annapurna Mellor/Lonely PlanetIt comes as governments in Germany, France and the UK continue discussions with researchers and tech firms over the possibility of developing these health or immunity passports to allow people to freely move about their countries, as they consider lockdown exit strategies. Similar to China's colour-coded QR health system which verifies whether an individual poses a contagion risk, the passports would use data from antibody tests specific to COVID-19 to discern whether people currently have the virus or not. But there are concerns about the efficiency of these documents should they be introduced. That's because the World Health Organization (WHO) has said there is currently no evidence to prove that people who develop antibodies after recovering from COVID-19 are immune to a second infection. In a report published on 24 April, the WHO noted: "At this point in the pandemic, there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an 'immunity passport' or 'risk-free certificate.' People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice." For now, more research is needed before health passports are viable. But it is likely that testing could become the norm when flying. In April, Emirates became the first airline to conduct on-site rapid testing. Working with the Dubai Health Authority it tested passengers bound for Tunisia from Dubai for COVID-19 before boarding, using blood tests that rendered results within 10 minutes. The airline said there's a possibility that data from these tests could be used to inform health certificates. This article first appeared on Lonely Planet.
Reverse culture shock: understanding your blues when you return home from abroad
Anytime a person an extended yet temporary time abroad they tend to build a lot of strong connections in a short period of time. Something about the impermanence of the time can make everything feel that much more magical and memorable. But, it’s a double-edged sword. These people may also be the most susceptible to an unfortunate condition—reverse culture shock. Suffering from this ailment won’t kill you, but it can be extremely disorienting for reasons that you may not truly understand at first, At its essence, reverse culture-shock (RCS) involves mental and emotional struggles that arise when you return to a place of high familiarity. You come back to a place that should feel like home, but for some reason, it feels like anything but. How I first encountered RCS In my experience, the first sense of extreme RCS hit me after I returned to my home university after studying abroad in Dubai for a year. Something about those first days of classes walking around a university I’d attended for 3 years, but somehow felt completely new, made me feel vertigo. I suppose it feels similar to deja vu—as if abruptly waking from a very long dream. I was passing the same old same but different buildings and familiar yet strange people, feeling like I had never left but simultaneously feeling like I’d never been there before. I felt like I were a spy, taking the classes Gabby would have taken and going to the sorority chapter meetings Gabby would have gone to. Except I wasn’t the person I’d left home as anymore. And that’s when I realized that reverse culture shock is actually one huge identity crisis. Navigating the identity crisis “Pre-Study Abroad Gabby” had lived in Virginia for the past 10 years, has a dog, hates the cold, and has a friend group consisting of mostly artistic college students from northern Virginia. “Pre-Study Abroad Gabby” couldn’t have distinguished between Egyptian, Persian, Lebanese, and Pakistani cultures. “Dubai Gabby” spoke Arabic every single day. She was always conscious of making sure her clothes were appropriate yet stylish for the Muslim culture she was guest to. “Dubai Gabby’s” friends weren’t from the same country, let alone the same continent, and she was constantly learning how many varieties there were of this thing called life. But here I was, standing in my “home” university, now neither of these people. Walking into the dining hall and instinctually saying “Merhaba” to the Chikfila attendant. Completely out of touch with the current college events, about to graduate, not sure who I was still friends with or my place in the university. Who was I now? I felt as if I were left carrying around a ghost of an experience. I was having reverse culture shock, desperately attempting to reconcile who I’d always been and the person I discovered I could be during my extended time abroad. You may be feeling a similar in-betweenness. And you should know it’s okay. It’s okay to exist in-between. You’ve bitten the forbidden fruit and seen the possibilities of life. It’s going to feel as if you’re being asked to pretend it never happened and snap back into your old life! But we all know travel changes us forever. It happened, I promise. Your time abroad was just as magical and meaningful as you remember it and being home does not mean it was a once in a lifetime affair. It happened—and it can happen again! Finally, rest assured. You have not “peaked”. The shift in perspective we gain from travel is not something that can be turned on and off. And if you had a good study abroad experience, you might be feining for another trip right off the bat. You might even be worried, thinking “Will any trip ever compare to that? Have I peaked?” You haven’t. You’re never too old to embark on a new adventure, and there is a world of travel and adventure to be had. Even this COVID-19 travel stall will one day pass, and the people will appreciate exploration and travel more than ever. So relax! Allow reverse culture shock to be the discomfort you need to grow as a person. Let it push you to reprioritize the things you may now realize you truly value, and accept it as an encouragement to get you on that next flight to another new identity and a new adventure. Gabby Beckford is a Gen Z travel and lifestyle entrepreneur who runs the blog Packs Light.