A Professor's Guide to Travel in the COVID-Era
- The importance of movement for the human body
- A series of virtual experiences to delight your senses
- Tips for rediscovering neighborhood gems
- Prepare for new travel requirements and changes in the tourism industry
- Steps to mitigate travel risk
Along with uncertainty, an aching sense of wanderlust has become a prominent side effect for many individuals during the ongoing pandemic. Those in academia typically travel extensively and the indefinite grounding has thrown a wrench in many plans. Amidst career pivots and early retirements, an innate desire to move envelops the human spirit, encouraging us to get out and get moving as soon—and as safely—as we can. The value of movement is incalculable and could be literally life changing. Below are tips to navigating travel, be it virtual, local, or international, in the COVID-era.
If you’re not quite ready to rent an Airbnb, despite no-contact check-in, self-contained kitchen areas, and diligent cleaning, fret not. The vacation rental magnate also has a collection of online experiences to ease the itch of travel while prioritizing safety and ease of access. Learn pasta-making from a true Italian grandmother or take a virtual tango lesson with Argentinian dancers; Airbnb’s online experiences bring the joy of other cultures right to your home. For more options, Beeyonder.com offers everything from waddling with penguins in Antarctica to a city walk through Hanoi, Vietnam.
As the market for it has expanded, 3D and virtual reality (VR) technology has become affordable and even commonplace. A simple headset and a diverse selection of YouTube VR videos can give depth to your experience and immerse you in 360-degree views of the French Polynesian Islands, or wherever you choose. The options are endless! For those having a hard time deciding where to start, Forbes ranked the 15 best virtual tours to take during the Coronavirus. To enhance the virtual experience, let your taste buds travel the world with a monthly snack crate like Universal Yums. Pair the snack pack—from a different country every month—with a virtual tour through the corresponding historical monument, world wonder, or renowned destination.
Rediscover Your Backyard
When virtual reality just isn’t cutting it, consider venturing outdoors. Socially-distanced outdoor activities provide much-needed fresh air, a delightful dose of vitamin D, and the chance to stretch one’s legs further than a walk to your refrigerator. Be a tourist in your own town and reintroduce yourself to all your favorite spots and hidden gems. Bring a camera to create permanent memories of the places we once took for granted and places you’ll want to revisit when they’ve safely reopened. For tourism inspiration, visit Only in Your State to find local attractions that you may not have heard about, like the most magnificent nature views, quaint diners, and eclectic collections. Align your walk down memory lane with a literal walk down University Avenue. This is a great time for reflection, to picture your campus as it was when you first arrived versus how it’s changed over the years.
Trade VR for an RV and embrace life on the road. Day trips satiate your travel bug while making health and safety a priority. Wherever you go, pack a mask and hand sanitizer or wipes. Remember that travel is a privilege, not a right, and while the ability to move freely throughout the globe is certainly an advantage of the life you’ve carefully built for yourself and your family, there are ways to do it safely that don’t compromise you or those around you.
Real Travel = Real Restrictions
Finally, real travel comes with real restrictions as well as changes in how we move through and experience the world. Not only will getting there be different (think: health passports, plexiglass dividers, masks during travel), hospitality will also be different (no shaking hands or hugging). However, one consequence of more restrictions is flexibility in booking arrangements with fewer change and cancellation fees and steep discounts. Ultimately, the tourism industry has adapted in various ways. Airlines like Emirates are offering passengers free coverage for COVID-19 medical expenses and quarantine costs to boost confidence in travelers. Oppositely, countries like Cambodia are charging visitors an additional $3,000 deposit to cover any COVID-related care or funeral expenses that might be incurred.
Any travel right now should address these concerns with socially-distanced flights, no-contact check-ins, private tours, open air shopping, temperature checks, and of course masks and hand sanitizer. Keep in mind that traveling is FUN; do not feel obligated to travel if you’re not ready, or shamed if you are ready to travel while adhering to safety protocols. Travel insurance exists to ensure your peace of mind. Use the following steps to mitigate travel risk:
- Check U.S. government websites and set applicable alerts.
- Visit government websites of countries you plan to visit and note if they’re requiring a quarantine period. Kayak and TripsGuard have a basis of information for almost every country in the world, but a country’s government website has the final say.
- Call your airline for the latest restrictions or cancellations. Sites like Airfare Watchdog monitor this for you, though calling the airline directly is a best practice.
- Email your hotel and travel agent, if you have one, with any concerns and check your travel insurance policy.
- Follow general health precautions at home and abroad.
Whatever you feel comfortable doing, be sure you’re staying active physically and mentally. Whether through Peloton’s virtual outdoor biking courses or an actual bike ride through your neighborhood, combating a sedentary lifestyle—especially during COVID—is vital to improving your outlook and quality of life. One of the greatest lessons in this is if you want to do something in life, it’s best not to put it off. Working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ can help make your plans happen and give you the confidence needed to get moving.
- For retirement advice from professors who have been there before, read this report: University Retirees Share What They Wish They Knew Before Retirement
- To learn more about planning with a holistic view of retirement, read this report: Retirement Beyond the Numbers