Well into half-a-year of living with coronavirus, we know travel is beginning to pick up again (albeit modestly). We see this in our community as well! Whether you’re traveling to visit family, going on home leave, or traveling for work, you are traveling. And travel will happen.We also know that this is a challenging time for many people to see others traveling. Whether they or a loved one are considered vulnerable to the disease, they’ve lost loved ones, they’ve lost income, or have general anxiety about the state of our world. These realities are coexisting and what those of us who do travel can do, is to engage in responsible travel and do so respectfully in the face of this crisis.
Our mission is to serve as a resource for traveling families. Overlaying that mission is our commitment to anti-racism. What we’ve seen over the last few months amidst this pandemic, is that global racial justice is intrinsically linked to health disparities writ large (you can read more about that in the previous post). The pandemic has merely laid bare those inequities. And we must keep those in mind as we travel.
The chief responsibility is to be conscious travelers in the face of this glaring inequality. We must understand that overlooking our privilege can potentially lead to harmful actions (consciously or not). We could be silent spreaders of the disease and we could potentially burden a community’s local healthcare system.
Here we provide some guidance on how traveling families can travel responsibly during these fragile times.
10 Questions about Responsible Travel During a Pandemic
While local coronavirus restrictions and circumstances vary widely depending on where you’re from, our personal responsibility around travel and the risks we pose to others is universal. A cautionary tale of this is the recent spike of coronavirus cases in the Melbourne, Australia suburbs that is believed to be linked back to returning travelers not adhering to quarantine protocols.
We are at a moment in time where we’re relying on personal responsibility to keep our most vulnerable safe. We urge you to ask yourself these questions as you plan your travels in the coming months.
- Should I take this particular trip? In some cases, going somewhere—anywhere—for the sake of our mental health is enough as long as it’s done safely. But some trips just aren’t necessary at this moment, so assess whether it’s a trip that can be done safely at this time.
- Can I get there with limited interaction with people? Regardless of where you live, identify the mode of transport that is safest for everyone—for your family and the people you meet along the way.
- What precautions can I take when I travel? Travel looks different in a pandemic. Here are some BBV articles with tips on how to prepare for a trip.
- What are the local, regional, and national laws related to coronavirus where I’m traveling? Know the local mandates and protocols (which are changing frequently) so you know the protocol when you arrive to help stem the spread where you’re visiting.
- What is the coronavirus rate where I’m traveling? If you’re going to a region with higher coronavirus rates, or rates that are on considerable rise, your level of risk increases. And so does your risk of bringing the virus home. Additionally, injuries and sickness unrelated to coronavirus can happen while on vacation, too, so understand that in a place with high Covid rates, a trip to the hospital for an injury might put a burden on local health systems.
- How prepared am I to go to remote areas (if applicable)? If you plan to go into a backcountry setting, it’s best to be experienced. Without experience, you have a higher likelihood of getting hurt or lost requiring the need for wilderness rescue. These evacuations amidst a pandemic can put rescue teams at greater risk.
- Do increased rates of coronavirus in my home community pose a risk to others when I travel? If you live in a place where coronavirus rates are higher or on the rise, and if you or a fellow traveler has a higher likelihood of exposure (e.g. works on the frontlines), you may want to consider employing precautions so as not to spread the virus (e.g. two-week pre-trip quarantine or getting tested pre-trip).
- How can I support local businesses while traveling while also keeping them safe? Because so many local tourism industries are hit hard by the pandemic-induced economic crisis, when you do travel, shop, stay, and eat locally whenever possible to support small local businesses. While visiting these businesses, be patient and kind to the hospitality staff (and in cultures where tipping is customary, tip well). This also involves adhering to all safety protocols to help keep local workers safe.
- What precautions should I take when I get home? Because you spent time in an unpredictable environment, consider a two-week self-quarantine when you return to ensure you’re not bringing the virus from other places to your own community.
- How do I share information about my trip? How we share about our trip can help normalize responsible travel. For example, share pictures of you and your family wearing masks, information about the precautions you took to be physically distant, and details about what it was like where you traveled.
We hope that these tips are helpful as you plan your travels. We know our community is dedicated to conscious, responsible travel and ensuring safety for yourself and others along the way.
Brinda Shah, BBV Conscious Travel Editor, provided insights and assistance throughout the writing of this article.
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