How To Travel in 2021 | What To Know Before You Go

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I think we all hoped that traveling would be somewhat back to normal in 2021. And even though we have made good progress, miss Rona is still around the corner lurking to strike again. It calls for a different way of trip planning, re-looking at your travel insurance to make sure we have everything covered and the pre-excitement of a trip is different. We have more things to think about. This is your guide on how to travel in 2021!

I had the chance to travel early June and I know I was extremely lucky to have this opportunity. I did not travel at all in 2020 so this trip felt like a treat. It was so overdue! As a travel blogger, I get most of my inspiration from my own trips so to keep blogging this past year was pretty difficult.

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To be honest, it felt pretty normal to travel again! I went to the Spanish island Mallorca and we needed to do a few things before leaving, more about that later, and obviously had some restrictions on the destination but it was completely fine! I enjoyed my trip just like I enjoyed all my trips before. If that’s something you’re worried about, don’t! There’s so much to still enjoy.

How To Travel in 2021 | What To Know Before You Go

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Booking your trip

Usually, I’m someone to recommend booking everything separately to save money. Your flights separate, accommodation separate, rental car separate: everything separate because it’s always way cheaper than booking a package deal.

Not this time. Traveling during COVID is risky because most insurances, airlines or accommodations (a few do!) don’t refund your money if something goes wrong.

I highly recommend booking your trip as a package deal at a tour operator. They will not only refund your trip or give you the option to change your booking, they will make sure you can come home if you need to leave the destination immediately. It’s so important to not have this insecurity. You’re safe if you book a package deal.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is a little bit tricky during this time. Not all insurance companies will cover expenses such as cancelled flights, extra hotel nights if you tested positive etcetera! We have a color system in Europa – green and yellow are fine, but once a destination is marked orange or red: you’re either only allowed to visit this country if it’s necessary or not at all. Most travel insurances won’t cover anything if you travel to a destination that’s marked orange or red.

Read more: 21 Exciting Must-Visit Destinations in 2021

Pre-arrival requirements

Some destinations like Spain and Greece require you to fill in an online health document which will give you a QR-code. This QR-code is scanned on the airport or train station and shows that you’re either fully vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 in the past or had a negative PCR test.

The requirements for this health certificate is different for every destination so please check and double check to see the requirements for your destination. Spain required us to fill this in max 24 hours before arrival. Do this, the airline won’t let you on the plane if you don’t have the QR code.

I had to fill in where I was going, if I was experiencing any symptoms, personal information and eventually had to fill in the details of my PCR test. I wasn’t fully vaccinated so I needed to show a PCR test. Once you’re done, submit the form and you will receive a QR code in your email. Keep this secure and easy to find. You’re going to need to show it at the airport of departure and at the airport of arrival!

They may ask you to show proof of your negative PCR test as well. I had to show mine, my mom didn’t need to show hers. The fastest way to go through this line is to either have the QR code and negative test results printed out or saved on your phone! 

TIP: the situation is very unpredictable and some countries change the requirements to enter the country last minute. Make sure to stay updated so there won’t be any surprises!

Vaccinated or negative PCR-test

Each country has a different requirement to enter, but Europe has tried to make it as easy as possible. I, in the Netherlands for example, have an app called Corona Check with a national QR code and international QR code. I’m fully vaccinated so I have a QR code that allows me to travel internationally without any PCR test depending on the destination. If you have a negative PCR test, you’ll also receive a QR code for a limited time.

This app and QR code is different per country, but I’m allowed into the European countries with my QR code. It also means that I’m not required to show a negative PCR test, unless something in the situation changes. Once again, double check 😊.

Some of you might need to show a PCR test and this is something to keep in mind. A few days before I left for Mallorca, Spain required a negative PCR test 72 hours before arriving. Last minute, just 2 days before, Spain changed the requirements into a test max 48 hours before arriving. I had to last minute change my appointment on the same day. This happens a lot as the situation is still so unsure and fluctuant.

It can be pretty stressful, it was for us, but when you keep a close eye on the situation and the rules, you should be fine. We now have a free testing system for vacations in the Netherlands, but I paid around €40 for my PCR test!

Read more: 8 Steps To Start A Succesful Travel Savings Account

Taking the airplane during COVID

I felt perfectly safe to fly during COVID! The rules on the airport were clear, we all had to wear masks and people were keeping their distance. The airport was kinda empty, but it was at the time when more countries opened for tourists so it wasn’t as empty as before!

I flew with Transavia and they unfortunately did not keep the distance in the plane. It was pretty much fully packed, all seats were occupied and to be honest, I thought they would keep a few seats free to keep a distance between different passengers. That’s one thing that didn’t feel entirely safe, even though everyone was tested negative.

The airport in Mallorca was fine as well, they had marks on the floor where you could stand on to keep the 1.5m distance. It all worked great! There wasn’t a line to have your QR code scanned and to show your negative test, it took not even 5 seconds for us to get through. If everyone makes sure to have the QR code ready, it shouldn’t be a long line.

Traveling on the destination

I travelled to Mallorca. A Spanish island I’ve visited many times before, but it has a few really good hidden gems.

It started off pretty quietly. When we would walk outside, the terraces and restaurants would be pretty much empty. The local shops didn’t have any customers. As the week progressed, it started to get so much busier! Restaurants were getting almost entirely full, local shops had customers and the destination came to life. Happy to see that as a sustainable traveller, it’s been hard for the destination so it’s exciting when tourists come!

Every destination has their own COVID rules which may be a bit confusing. At the time, Mallorca required everyone to wear a mask inside ánd outside. For reference, the Netherlands only required masks inside at the time. If you’re not sure, either check their website or ask the people working in your hotel for extra information.

It’s obviously really important to follow their measurements to stay safe. We are a guest to their country, so lucky to be able to travel and visit, so the least we can do is be responsible! It was definitely a bit uncomfortable to wear masks in 30+ degree Celsius but you will get used to it.

Besides all of this, life was pretty normal. We rented a car, drove around the island, had lunch in restaurants, drank coffee at the best cafes and had an amazing time. It’s the same as every other vacation I’ve had.

My advice would be to not let COVID influence your trip too much. Sure, there’s a lot to think about and it might ruin your pre-trip excitement. But once you’re on the destination, embrace the rules and create the trip you want! If the restaurants, cafes, shops, local museums etcetera are open: nothing is stopping you.

The most important thing to do is: double checking what the requirements and rules are. Be prepared, responsible and a good tourist to the destination but it also gives you more clarity and peace of mind. Nothing worse than being unpleasantly surprised because you somewhere missed an important step. Traveling during this time calls for more preparation time!

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Rosy Melissa

Travel Guides, Travel Tips & Conscious Travel

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