How to Stay Conscious While Traveling During a Pandemic

Now that more and more destinations are re-opening their doors to tourism this summer, fall, or winter, all of you travel lovers feel it coming again. That travel bug. That little voice in your head saying, no, screaming: I want to travel!
As seen in my previous interview about the future of travel, it will look a whole lot different. Unfortunately, since we’re still in a pandemic, there are many things to be considered prior to boarding on your next flight to the first re-opened touristic destination. So not click on “confirm booking” yet, not without these travel tips and hacks.

Why Travel Now?

What Is the Real Reason?

First of all, take a look at why you want to travel now. Why do you want to leave the country? Why do you want to go on a trip? We all have deeper meanings buried under our prior motivations, so feel free to ask yourself the same questions a couple of times: Why?

For many, this can be: an escape from home. Seeking a silent, calm place. Maybe you have had enough tranquility at home and you want to spread your wings and seek adventure. Or maybe, you’ve had to endure a lot during this time and you just want to cool off and blow off some steam somewhere on a tropical location sipping margarita’s under a beach umbrella, without your screaming kids running around the place. We all have our different motives, so take a moment to decide on that.

Make Your Trip Great

Intention Is Key

Setting an intention for your next trip is key to making sure you know what your want and you will get what you want. If you just book the first destination that re-opens, but it doesn’t give you what you want, you’ll end up getting disappointed and not fulfilled.

Next, you’ll want to think abut what you want to get out of your trip. Again, is it peace? Is it adventure?

When you set an intention on what you want to get out of your trip, it’ll be much easier to stay in that frame and really have a great vacation that gives you what you need.

Choose The Right Place

Jot down a couple of destinations that come to your mind first when you think about your next trip (you know, the ones you’ve been daydreaming about and seeing daily in your Instagram-feed), and think about what activities or surroundings you want to be in.

Do you feel like hiking? Or do you want to go to the beach? If you’ve read about a destination that is re-opening their doors soon and you’re eager to visit it, you can try this in reverse: will this place fulfil my needs? Greece is opening their doors mid-July. Which island would be best for you? Since there are so many, they each have their own culture and character. It’s important to not get caught up in an impulsive deal just because you’re so excited to travel again.

Think about the consequences

For Yourself

Take health and safety measurements

Make sure to carry enough face masks, gloves, hand sanitiser, etc. You never know when you might need extra ones on your trips. And normally, yes, you should have access to them everywhere in the world by now, but you never know when these items could be sold out in the nearest pharmacies or supermarkets. I’m not saying you should bulk up – please don’t -, but just make you have enough at least make it to your hotel.

Also, think about your mental health: do you feel good about soon traveling again? Are you ready for it? Do you realise the risks, and health and safety precautions you have to take? And are you willing to do this? Seeing the world so empty and abandoned, walking around with a face mask and stepping into this new reality can feel overwhelming. Take a moment to check in with yourself and decide whether or not you’re ready for this.

For Our World

Research Your Destination

Follow any mandatory requirements 

This is super important: no matter where you go, make sure to look up the local health and safety precautions. Not only of the destination itself, but of your journey towards it, too. It most airports, it’s mandatory to wear a facemask. Make sure you’re prepared for this, even though if you’re traveling to an abandoned place and won’t need a face mask.

Tink about purchasing a travel health insurance so you’re covered in all cases. First, check with your normal health or travel insurance plans and see if they are already covering this.

For Others

Take precautions and keep yourself to the rules regulate by the local government. This starts the moment you leave your home.

Don’t be scared to talk to people: you can still have interesting connections and meetings while on holiday. Keep your distance and mask on at all times to protect not only yourself, but people you come in contact with as well.

Remind yourself it’s about the physical part of social distancing, not social distancing itself. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone. Just because you’re both wearing face masks and keeping distance, doesn’t mean you can’t communicate with each other. We are still human beings who needs to connect with each other, and that’s a wonderful thing we should never stop doing.

For the Environment

Now that we stopped producing, ravelling and polluting, the earth is cleaner than ever before and is healing. Be conscious of the way you travel: can you travel by a more eco-friendly way, such as a train? Some airlines offer to recompense your ecologica footprint and with a small contribution, you can help them recover the damage of pollution.

Start Planning

Stay Up-To-Date

Take a look at what destinations have re-opened or will re-open soon. This is, of course, a crucial part of your travel planning. Grab your list of destinations you wanted to visit and see if any one of them has already communicated their opening date.

Travel Deals, Travel Deals Everywhere!

Make use of the flexible cancellations policies, waived fees and low prices before they go up again. Maybe you had a cancelled trip and you received a voucher: this is your perfect shot to get back your money’s value!

Airlines

Make use of the flight deals, hotel deals and other vacation deals while they last. A lot of travel companies. Check out this link for an overview of worldwide airline deals.

Star Alliance, which has 26 airline loyalty programs to offer, has made this page to check out all the Coronavirus updates of each airline member program.

Hotels & More

Here are some hotel chains that have updated their loyalty programs or extended their cancellation policies:

IHG (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental,…): extended cancellation policies, a new rate and the ability to upgrade faster to a higher teer level and keep your points valid longer than usual

Miles & More: mileage bargains, in addition to alternative ways to earn and redeem your Miles

Marriott: extended cancellation policies for all guests

Hyatt: flexible cancellation an extension of their member programs for all members globally

Tip: if you’re not sure on traveling yet, but you want to start saving loyalty points, you can always check out the credit card services of these loyalty programs. Often, you earn a monthly amount of points when you spend a certain monthly amount with the credit card. That way, you can shop from home and start saving up for your next trip.

Be Gentle With Yourself & Others

Travel is a tool we use to relax, to grow, to connect, to experience, to taste, to wonder, to go outside our comfort zones. The longing for travel is in our human nature. 

As this time is unseen, it can be very difficult for some. Keep in touch with yourself by journalling through your travels: write down everything that’s on your mind, no matter how small or how big.

Count On Your Support System

Ask someone to be your support system when things get rough 

Whenever you feel uncertain, anxious, of frightened by the situation, rely on your support system. Ask for the help of your close and loved ones to support you and guide you whenever you might feel like it.

Count On A Professional

We all need someone who motivates us, who encourages us, who supports us, no matter what.

A certified life coach, or license therapist or a type of counselor can help you with that.

In these uncertain times, it’s natural and logical we are in need of some vacation. It’s important to set your intention for this new trip and to be clear with yourself on what it really is you are looking for. That way, you make the best out of your getaway. Next, it’s always crucial to follow health and safety precautions, wherever you go. Take advantage of travel deals, waived cancellation fees, and lowered prices now that it’s still ongoing. And finally, count on a support system to be there for you when things get rough. It’s normal to feel lots of different things now, and it’s even more important to deal with them on a healthy way.

Travel? I would love to! But I don’t have the money… Going somewhere during the upcoming holiday? Sounds great, but I don’t have the time…

Unfortunately, we often lose the motivation of going on a trip because it looks like such a big deal, like an enourmous monster is ahead of us and we can only travel by plane, stay in an all-in hotel and go on a spend-it-all-vacay mood. There are other alternatives, too. Short trips make you get the best out of a destination while maximizing your time and not digging too deep into your wallet. Whether you’re strugglng with finding time to travel or travelling on a budget, this article features five tested ways to travel cheap and maximize your time.

After applying these tips, you will be able to travel cheap, gain more out of a destination and utilise your time to the maximum.

Hop on a overnight bus

In Europe, it has gotten quite easy and cheap to travel around. Crossing borders with major bus companies such as Flixbus, Busbud or Rede Expressos have more advantages than you think. Reduce your carbon footprint and enjoy less stricter luggage rules by choosing a bus or coach for your next trip. Also, there are almost always free Wi-Fi, plugs, aircon and a bathroom available.

A trip on a overnight bus is the easiest, since you sleep all night and arrive at your destination in the morning. I took a bus from Lisbon to Porto (and saved more than €100), Lisbon to the North and South of Portugal for €9 one-way and I even went from Lisbon to Malaga twice for a price of €60 return in high season (august).

Opt for a green train ride

Trains are great, eco-friendly options for long-distance travels. If you plan to visit a further destination, you can even get a private cabin to catch a good night’s rest. Trains often offer dining carts, free Wi-Fi and it’s a fast and reliable method of travel. From Lisbon, there is an overnight train to Madrid. From Brussels, you can get easily to Amsterdam, Paris or London, etc. Omio gives you the best option for bus, train or plane rides.

If you’re really low on time and budget, opt for a trip inside your country. Trust me, you’d be surprised where a train trip might take you! Often, we focus too much on big destinations or big cities. Remember how unique and beautiful unknown destinations can be. Don’t be afraid to let yourself wander off the beaten path. I’ve often travelled by train, especially in Belgium.

Don’t ditch the plane, step up your game

Airplane tickets can be expensive, but they can also be ridicously cheap. You have to know when to look for them and how to look for them. Last year, I went to Seville for €9.99, from Seville to Barcelona for €30 and two year ago, I went from Barcelona to Mallorca for just €5.99 one- way, makin a total of €11.98 return tickets. There are crazy deals ot there, you just have to look for them.

Start by looking for plane tickets on incognito mode (private mode) on your mobile phone or laptop. Aso, look for flights on calm hours: don’t look for them on a Friday night, but start your search on a Tuesday or Wednesday, or during unpopular hours such as in the middle of the night.

However, planning a trip by airplane all depends on what you already know. There are many websites who offer you good prices, but on some flights you’rebette off with one supplier than the other. So, to explore the best options, you need the best search engines. I’ve listed them right here, depending on your situation.

  • If you don’t know the date or destination
    • Skyscanner lists the cheapest flight for all dates per destination from your preferred airport
    • Google Flights has a tool to look up flights for a weekend, one week or two weeks. Underneath the search bar, scroll down and enter the world map. Move your mouse onto where in the world you would like to go and zoom in to explore more options!
  • If you know your available dates, but you don’t know where to go
    • Fly Me Anywhere: just enter your location and the dates and this website will give you the cheapest flights to any place.
    • Google Flights: enter the dates or the length of your trip and your leaving point, hit search and explore your options. Handy tool: you can add the option of hand luggage an it calculates the extra cost for you.
    • Skyscanner: again, enter your location and preferred travel data and Skyscanner will give you the cheapest options.
  • If you know the destination, but you don’t know the date
    • Google Flights: click on the world map and look for the cheapest flight to a certain destination in the next 6 months. You can adjust the length of the trip and decide on which month you would like to go (but it’s not necessary). Another option is to go to the search bar, choose a day span on a random date and then scroll further to see the prices of the other months.

There are so many websites that offer you great deals, but it’s easier and less time consuming if you use the biggest search engines who lead you to the best deals.

Choose your accomodation wisely

Holiday time = treat yourself. I agree 100%. But it doesn’t neccesarily mean that you have to book a fancy hotel room or all-in resort. Why not book an Airbnb room or apartment or even better, a hostel. This a great way to socialize, keep your budget low and do new experiences.

If you do want to stay in a hotel, you can find the best prices directly in their webite. Yes, I said it. Booking.com or Expedia only have better deals in case they “buy” a hotel room on advance at a lower rate or in case of exclusive member rates. But in most cases, the hotel offers the best price, also for their members, and even some extras such as romantic packages etc.

When I went to Porto by bus, I stayed in the most gorgeous hostel – a gallery – where I had a comfortable bed with everythin I needed: plugs, sockets, light, a locker to keep my stuff secure, a modern and big bathroom and breakfast included for not even €20 a night.

Even during my trips to Cape Town and Buenos Aires, I stayed in hostels. It saved me so much money and allowed me to meet so many interesting people from all over the world.

Seas the day!

Traveling by ferry or boat is a great way to start your next adventure. In Argentina, I took a ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia, Uruguay. It wasn’t only better for the environment, it was also a fun experience and qute easy and fast.

When I was a kid, my family vacation used to be a roadtrip to Italy and from Italy we took the boat to Greece. It was a small adventure. And it was fast and easy to do, we could even take our car with us and we had our own cabin. If you want to make your whole trip an adventure and you love being on the sea, opt for a ferry trip or a boat ride!

Even in Malta, you can take a ferry to the nearest isand. The same is for Corfu, Croatia, Venice and many more destinations. Often, these ferries cost only a few euros. Think about it: where would you head out if you took the nearest ferry or boat?

No matter where you live, there are always great alternative and cheap ways to travel around. If you have weekend off and you feel that wanderlust coming up, look what your best options are.

That deep state of relaxation, that immense thrill of expanding your boundaries, that exciting feeling of strolling around in unknown streets and that spontaneous, wild version of you being outside your comfort zone and away from the daily life; going on a holiday is something we all cherish. It has become an essential part of our lives. But how do you book your dream holiday while being on a budget?

Personally, 2018 and 2019 – so far – were two years full of traveling and adventures. Some were unplanned, some were solo, some were in another continent, some ended in me celebrating my seventh month of being an expat in a foreign on this day.

One question I frequently hear is: “Where do you get all the money from for your travels?”

Prioritise your dream holiday

Let me make one thing clear. If you want something, really want something, you make it a priority. This is applicable on all things in life. With traveling, it’s the same. There is no magical, hidden treasure for people who want to go on holiday – unfortunately. You make money for it, like you make time for it.

However, I have one golden rule when it comes to planning and booking a holiday, and that is the following:

Set up a budget.

Wherever you want to go on holiday to, whenever you want to go, with whomever you want to go; you will need to set a budget for all your costs and keep some “emergency money” extra. Because while you’re traveling, anything can happen – don’t be scared, I’m not talking about medical emergencies, I’m talking about ordering too many of those delicious cocktails, planning another trip in your trip,… life happens, you know?

A for Effort

Next up is the planning part. My best experience is putting a trip together by yourself. That means you have to do all the work, like: checking multiple websites, OTA’s, apps, and online searching tools. It sounds exhausting and you probably want to click away this tab and look for package deals, but trust me, it is worth the effort.

Here are some tools I recommend: Skyscanner and Google Flights helped me out a lot during my quests to the best flights with my preferred airlines and dates. Google Flights even lets you choose your stop (which airport, how many hours, etc). Booking.com has a Genius reward program which allows you to get extra benefits out of your booking. And lastly, websites of hostels always guarantee you the lowest price.

Here’s a tip for when you have no clue where in this beautiful world you want to go to: on Skyscanner, you can put as destination ‘anywhere’ and they will provide you the cheapest flights for periods of whole months. That rule applies as well for known destinations: just click on ‘entire month’ when selecting the date.

When you have set your budget, you can start filtering on this, the date you had in mind for your ideal holiday, and/or the destination. The more information you possess, the merrier; it will be a lot easier to find your perfect holiday combination.

Sidenote: are you still doubting about certain flights? Create a price alarm so you get a notification you when there has been a price change in your selected flights. On some websites you can also reserve your flights: KLM lets you reserve your flight prices for €15.

So you already have your flights reserved or booked. Now it is time to book your accommodation before the prices go up – the disadvantage of checking everything by yourself (make sure to always clean up your cookies too).

Another important detail to remember is your included luggage when booking a light. For example, Lufthansa included my checked-in luggage in the flight prices, while Turkish Airlines didn’t, and my flight prices went up with €140. It may seen unimportant and just a small detail you can ‘arrange later’, but it is an essential part to not get caught in the flight deals. Always read the conditions of the flight fares.

Booking your stay on a certain location is more a question of personal preferences. Some would prefer the budget hotel, others see themselves being in a surf hostel, you may prefer an Airbnb: the cost may be the same, but of course, you aren’t the same as your fellow travellers.

If it is the first time you are using Booking.com, Airbnb, or another OTA, make sure to use your leverage as being part of the late majority and get extra discounts on your very first booking.

Livin’ la vida loca

Finally, you got your flights and accommodation all set up. Next up is planning your activities and discovering the city or country you will visit. My personal favourite guide is Lonely Planet’s “Guides”. They have offline city guides for a collection of cities worldwide. You can filter on different categories like food, attractions, etc. and within those categories you can filter on degree of popularity, price, etc. Culture Trip offers you a wide variation of blogs about different fields of interests for your next destination.

To summarise my collection of tips: always set up a budget, use the right sources to check your flights and accommodation options, use those online advantages such as discounts and never forget to read the small letters. Hopefully, these tips will facilitate the booking of your next holiday so you can enjoy it even more. I wish you happy travels and lots of eye-opening adventures.