When I worked corporately, travel planning was one of my favorite parts of my job, and I still love it today. Whether it’s for business or personal reasons, I enjoy the research and preparation that goes into a trip.
COVID-19 brought the travel industry to its knees, but as vaccinations roll out and restrictions loosen, we’re getting closer to a place where we can move freely again. But that doesn’t mean that things will look exactly the same.
The basics of travel planning still apply. You need to have a good system in place, including templates and checklists, traveler profiles, and detailed itineraries. You need to have a contingency plan. You need to fully research your destination, and learn as much as you can about where you’re going and what to expect when you get there.
But traveling during a pandemic has its own set of challenges that go above and beyond your normal travel planning procedures. There’s a new set of rules now, and the more prepared you are, the better. Here’s what you need to know about travel planning in 2021.
Everyone’s Playing with a Different Rulebook
COVID guidelines differ from state to state and sometimes even at the county or city level. Travelers headed to one place may enforce mask mandates; another may leave it up to the individual. Many of these restrictions change daily, so it’s difficult to keep up.
Because things vary so widely, it is absolutely necessary to know what to expect before you go. Visit state and local websites. Talk to friends or colleagues who live in the area or have traveled there recently. Tap into your online networks to ask others what they are seeing and experiencing firsthand. If all else fails, pick up the phone and call the local officials.
Testing May Be Required
The CDC recommends travelers test one to three days before travel, but many people don’t realize they should test three to five days after they return, as well.
If you’re planning international travel, you may be required to show proof of a negative test before entering the country.
But for some destinations, a negative test may not be enough. Many countries are imposing forced quarantine periods overseen by government authorities and health officials, often at the traveler’s expense. A two-week mandatory quarantine in Singapore, for instance, costs $2,000.
There is plenty of information regarding travel on the CDC’s website. It’s a helpful resource to help you stay abreast of rules and restrictions.
Yes, You Need Travel Insurance
If one thing has remained certain through the pandemic, it’s that nothing is certain at all. Flights get canceled. Hotels close. Conferences and events may be a go one week and called off the next. Which means you absolutely need to invest in travel insurance.
But not all policies are created equal. Some allow cancellation for any reason. Some will only cover you if your trip is canceled due to COVID and some won’t cover you at all if your trip is canceled due to COVID. Read the fine print and know what you’re getting into before you decide on a policy.
Are You Prepared for the “New Normal?”
With so much uncertainty in the world right now, it’s more important than ever to be diligent with your travel planning. Learn as much as you can, stay up to date on guidelines and restrictions, and make sure you’re covered for any contingency. Things may look a bit different now, but with the right systems by your side, it’s nothing but a bit of turbulence!
© 2021 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.