We’ve been running away to Goa ever since we turned 18, the good old days when we sneaked out and told our parents we were going on an “educational trip” to explore the sleepy beachside territory of Goa. Little did they know what really went on back then, but Goa is very different for us now and represents so much more than hippies, drugs, parties and booze. We decided to test the travel waters in the midst of a pandemic and head to our familiar Goa, for a stress-free vacation minus the crowds. Here’s what we learnt about travelling during the pandemic.
Travelling during the pandemic is the not the same as travelling in regular times. You have close to 50 things to think about, do and consider before you go on holiday, even if you pick a destination as straight-forward as Goa. Here you’ll find information on pre-travel requirements and things you should consider ensuring utmost safety for yourself and co-passengers. Note: This will never be 100% full-proof and you just never know what could happen, where and when but it certainly doesn’t hurt to be safe and respectful to the new COVID-19 safety-related measures.
Pre-travel check-list for travelling during the pandemic:
- Location location location!
Yes, it really is all about the destination you pick during a pandemic. Pick a place that guarantees space so you don’t have to worry about the aunty accidentally bumping into you while taking a photo. Example: The beaches of Goa, are so vast and spread out that we could easily practice distancing when lazying on the sand. This rule might apply to the mountains of the north and east India where you can quite easily find a gorgeous little town perched on a quiet mountain and enjoy some time in the clean fresh air.
AVOID: Crowded cities
- Timing is everything:
While Goa was perfect pre-Diwali, we would advise against travelling during the festive season just so you can stay clear of the throngs of tourists that plan holidays during these times. This applies to long weekends, bank holidays and other festivals in the year. Try to pick weekdays as opposed to weekends and you’ll be much happier without having to deal with long restaurant wait times and lack of parking.
- Book refundable flights and accommodations:
You never really know what’s going to happen, so it makes sense to pay a little extra for refundable flights and hotel/resort/villa stay. Although our stay required a 10% deposit we requested them to be flexible in case of any cancellation due to the virus.
- Check the local requirements:
Some destinations require a COVID-19 negative certificate upon arrival and or/may require you to quarantine, so it’s imperative to check the local laws before booking any form of travel. These tend to keep changing, so staying updated is equally important.
- New travel essentials:
Move over chargers, cameras and tripods, the new travel essentials now comprise disinfectant wipes, sanitizers, face masks, gloves and face shields. We had these in our hand luggage while travelling along with a few extras just to be safe and well-equipped for the journey.
IMP TIP: Download the Arogya Setu app as most airports have this as a mandatory entry requirement.
- Where to stay?
This is tricky! The 5-star hotels/resorts are finally giving you the discounts you’ve been yearning for, not to mention the countless safety measures they promise. That being said, hotels/resorts are usually large with over 50 rooms, which means breakfast buffets, people fighting for late check-outs and just general crowding at the reception areas. So what do you pick? Our advice, pick a property with fewer than 20 rooms so your crowd is restricted. This could mean a B&B, guesthouse or boutique hotel and always speak to the property inquiring about their safety measures and precautions. If you do pick a large hotel/resort, follow the safety rules enforced by the property to minimize risk.
Wherever you go, the logical and safest thing to do is to avoid crowds and stick to open spaces. Certain activities are also considered as low risks such as hiking and trekking therefore you can always pick a destination based on the activity. This does not mean that the risk of catching COVID-19 is eliminated. There are countless factors beyond our control that can also go beyond the control of the aforementioned safety checks.
- Travel in groups of only 3-4 people
- Know the rules and regulations of your destination
- Bring extra masks, sanitizers, wipes
- Pack your own food if you must eat during a flight
- If you do take a flight, always always wear your mask + face shield and PPE if you happen to get a middle seat
- Avoid public restrooms and maintain social distancing when queuing up
- Hand sanitizer upon touching anything and everything
- Wipe down your luggage once you arrive at your destination.
- Remove your “flight clothes” and wash/bag separately.
- Respect the rules of your destination and wear a mask at all times when in public
- Carry medicines in case of emergency
The travel industry was heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and while we’re not encouraging foolhardy travel in large groups, it’s imperative to support the industry as they try and get back on their feet. Please exercise caution while picking a location, check their sanitation procedures, and adhere by all local rules if you are planning on travelling.
Useful government links:
Check out our Goa food blog for some of the best restaurant suggestions!