If there’s anything most of us need after months of lockdown, financial stress and getting used to a very different ‘normal’, it is a holiday. But even though we might dream of piña coladas on the beach, travelling during COVID-19 times can feel daunting. There are endless new travel regulations to obey, health forms to fill out and masks to be worn at all times.
As part of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents’ (ASATA) #BackToTravel campaign, ASATA travel experts have demystified travel and shared some of their top travel tips:
- Consider local travel
Over the past few months, ASATA travel consultants have been proactive about promoting local travel.
“We’ve found that our country is the perfect destination to explore,” says Anneke Geldenhuys, Executive Director Harvey World Travel SA. “With our wide-open spaces, beautiful scenery and temperate climate, local travellers have been exploring our country in an affordable way. Safety protocols have been communicated, and we carefully vet establishments before promoting them in our network and social media channels.”
Maria Watkins, GM Tourvest Travel Services, agrees and says South Africans are looking for great local deals that are affordable and where they will feel safe. She says: “We have seen a spike in bush bookings. South Africans are just itching to get away.”
Watkins explains that many lodges are offering exclusive use of the lodge for families, whereby they can have exclusive use of an area and not have to interact with any other guests. They offer private game drives with the family unit only, and clients are finding this attractive.
- Don’t ignore safety protocols
Ernest Mohatle, Key Accounts Manager with Travel With Flair, warns that Level 1 doesn’t mean we are out of the woods. “Adhering to lockdown regulations should be a priority,” he says.
Aadil Esack, GM Product and Marketing for XL Travel, says it’s important to practise social distancing at the airport and look out for the COVID signs. “No two airports are alike, so this could look a little different at each airport,” he says.
Esack adds it’s a good idea to wear facial protection. He says: “Security officers at checkpoints are now using facial protection and wearing gloves. You should too. Requirements will vary, but it can’t hurt to be prepared.”
Finally, Esack suggests putting your items immediately in your bag at security checkpoints. “When removing belts, wallets, keys and phones, put them directly into your carry-on bag instead of into the bins to reduce touch-points during the screening process.”
- Do your research (or ask a travel expert)
There’s no better way to travel with peace of mind than to be prepared and know what to expect.
Rachael Penaluna, Business Manager at Sure Maritime Travel, advises researching your journey from start to finish. “What do I need to exit and re-enter South Africa? What is required at my transit point? What is required at my final destination? Are health certificates required to board? Will I be required to quarantine? Do I have the correct visa? A visa that was valid for travel pre-COVID may not be valid for travel post-COVID because of changes in entry requirements.”
Better still, ask a travel expert to share this research with you.