August , 2022 — Airlines can’t keep up with demand this summer. Even London’s Heathrow Airport told carriers not to schedule any more flights until the fall. Retirees and others are taking cruises, travelling by train, and taking trips in the car. This surge in demand has caused new problems for travelers, not the least from demon Covid, which shows no signs of going away.
This article will explore some of the pros and cons of traveling in the age of Covid. We also hope to get input on your travel plans and experiences. We’ve also included a few photos for a little armchair experience of our current travels in northern Scotland.
Tired of sitting at home. The pandemic is 2 and 1/2 years old, and no end is in site. Do we want to live the rest of lives this way?
We’re not getting any younger. Most people have some kind of a bucket list of places they want to visit and experiences to be had. The longer we wait, the more that we might not be able to handle, and the fewer years we have to do them.
Spend our dollars while they are worth something. This is a novel argument, but with the soaring cost of living, our dollars won’t be worth tomorrow what they are today. The U.S. dollar is near historic highs against the British pound and the Euro, so foreign travel doesn’t feel expensive. One example: A small glass of wine in Scotland costs 4.5 pounds, or about $5.40 U.S., which feels like a bargain!
Covid is still here. Your Editor is currently in Scotland. Despite being very safety conscious, one of our party caught it on Day 4. Just about everyone we know who has been abroad or on a cruise had someone come down with it. Our tour director reports that at least one person has gotten Covid during or shortly after most of his trips this summer, with no apparent reason for who, or how they got it. Covid definitely makes travel difficult, especially if you are traveling in a group.
Travel has gotten expensive and availabilities tight. You might not get the trip you want, when you want to make it.
Watch out for drought and fire. Some parts of Europe and the American West are very dry. Some river cruises in Europe are being affected because the rivers they use have very low water levels.
Travel tips for Covid
Here are some travel tips that might help in the age of Covid travel.
Test before you go. You don’t want to arrive sick in a strange place.
Have an agreement about how you will handle it if someone in your party gets sick. Will the rest of you proceed and the one who is ill catch up later, or will everyone pause? What will partners do? It is good to discuss this before you get in the situation – everyone might have a different opinion.
Use a travel agent or tour guide. They might be able to help you find alternatives if you get sick and can’t travel, need a hotel room, etc.
Get your boosters and wear a mask. If you are going to travel and risk Covid exposure, you need all the protection you can get. Scientific American compared death rate ratios among the vaccinated and unvaccinated. According to U.S. Public Health Service commander Heather Scobie, in March 2022, “unvaccinated people 12 years and older had 17 times the rate of COVID-associated deaths, compared to people vaccinated with a primary series and a booster dose.” Most experts agree that wearing a good face mask helps reduce exposure, so why take a chance. Go ahead and wear one (properly) any time you are inside and exposed to other people. Inevitably there will be times when you find yourself eating or drinking inside, and weather or whatever makes it is impossible to mask up. But you can try to minimize how often and how long that lasts.
Investigate travel insurance. Many credit cards include basic trip insurance that covers you if you get sick. You might want or need a more specific travel policy, but make sure you know what is covered and what is not.
Medicare doesn’t work abroad. Fortunately, however, health care is much less expensive and often as good or better than in the U.S.
Your U.S. bank can sell you foreign currency. This tip won’t help against Covid, but it is useful if you plan to travel abroad. There is usually an online option to have the currency sent to your residence before you go, often at no cost. That is a lot more convenient than having to find an ATM as soon you arrive in a new country. Bring at least two credit cards in case you have a problem with one of them (and photograph them and your passport so you know what you might lose). Using credit cards whenever possible (charging to local currency) will cut down on the amount of cash you need.
Our trip was really worth it. We saw incredible sights and enjoyed being on the road again. Unfortunately Covid made it a lot harder and required considerable adjustments. If you go, be prepared, and be flexible.
Where are you traveling?
Here is where we would love to hear from you. Have you travelled this season, or are you about to? Where are you going, and what was your experience? If you got Covid, what did you -and your companions – do? Pleases share your experiences in the Comments section below.