There’s no doubt that travelling has changed in the two years since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australia. As we start to return overseas again, here are some tips to consider
1. Check entry requirements
With entry requirements for counties constantly changing, it is safe to say that travellers are having to consider much more before entering a country than ever before. When booking an overseas holiday, make sure that you check out the government website for that country to ensure you have ticked all the boxes needed — whether it is additional rapid antigen tests or PCR tests, or documentation, it is better to be safe than sorry.
2. Consider booking an airport hotel the night before you fly
Some airlines are now suggesting that passengers check-in up to four hours before boarding. For many, this is not viable unless you live close to an airport. It might be worth considering spending the night at an airport hotel before you fly, so you can relax knowing that they are only five minutes away from check-in. Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express have launched tailored packages for its hotels across Sydney and Melbourne airports to help guests in this situation. They include the ‘Stay, Park & Go’ package at Holiday Inn Sydney Airport, which includes overnight accommodation, buffet breakfast, parking for four, eight or 15 nights and complimentary airport shuttle. “With the borders reopening and various travel requirements still in place, we are seeing an increase in pre- and post-flight stays, so that guests can begin their holidays with maximum peace of mind,” Holiday Inn Sydney Airport general manager Ben Burns said. “Our guests love that they have a comfortable, relaxing base where they can unwind before an early flight, ensure they have plenty of time for the check-in process, and have the convenience of our dedicated shuttle bus.”
3. Travel insurance is more important than ever
If the pandemic taught us anything about travel, it is that our health should be front and centre when heading overseas. Not only this, but unexpected cancellations due to a positive COVID test mean that it is important for you to get the insurance that covers unexpected cancellations, or last-minute emergency flights, without the additional charge.
4. Don’t forget face masks and hand sanitiser
Packing smarter and safer means face masks, hand sanitiser, and all the other bits that should be included when trying to stay COVID free on your overseas getaway. When flying, it is important to wear a mask, wash your hands often and sanitise when you don’t have quick access to bathrooms. It’s also worthwhile checking with the concierge or reception team at your hotel to ask for help in booking a restaurant or finding out what options are in place when it comes to contactless ordering, paper-free check-outs, or safety measures in place to keep everyone safe. Many hotel groups, including Intercontinental Hotel Group, Hilton and Choice Hotels, have introduced programs to ensure enhanced cleanliness and wellbeing, such as the IHG Clean Promise.
5. Check health advisories and travel warnings
The truth is, a COVID outbreak can pop up at any time and any place. Check health advisories and travel warnings to see what is happening in the area that you are travelling to. It can be challenging to understand which warnings and advisories are risks worth taking, and which should stop you from booking a trip. Working with a travel agent can help rule out destinations and build a shortlist of a few holiday options.
6. Be a kind traveller
No matter where you live, what you do, or who you are, the pandemic has impacted us all in its own unique way. If the last two years have taught us anything, it is humans who value the same thing —connection, good health, and safety. So, it is important for travellers to explore new places with additional layers of empathy and respect for those around them, as these are the hallmarks of a truly responsible traveller. Being a kind traveller also extends to travelling more sustainably. There are numerous ways hotels, resorts and experience companies are helping travellers to travel more consciously, no matter how big or small. One example is the IHG ‘A Greener Stay’ program at selected hotels where guests can forego daily housekeeping to reduce their impact, and receive 500 IHG Rewards points in return.