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How to have (and plan for) a socially distant vacation in 2021

2020 has been a lost year of travel unless it’s been spent exploring Sentosa, Pulau Ubin and the Green Corridor. While being a tourist in your backyard has its charms, there’s something irreplaceable about getting on a plane and being somewhere foreign and new.

While Singapore currently awaits reciprocity from countries it allows short-term visitors from without quarantine – e.g. New Zealand, Australia, China, Vietnam and Brunei – and re-looking the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble between the Christmas and New Year period; travelling abroad remains on hold for now.

When it is safe to travel again though (and it’ll be soon), it will be a different experience, one we’re all likely never to take for granted ever again.

You’ll be staying in… hotels of a different nature

2020 has been a year where many hotels have had to re-imagine what a hotel stay will entail in a post-pandemic world. Aside from increasing sanitation standards and frequency, many have already reworked existing public spaces to cater for social distancing, or staggered facility opening times so guests enjoy safe access to shared amenities. Covid-conscious services are also being added: things like app-activated door locks, remote delivery, chatbot guest service, self-check-in/out services, UVC lighting and voice-activated elevators. Longer-term, it’s likely hotel rooms will get more spacious (hurrah!) and more focus will be directed to a guest’s overall wellness needs.

You’re likely to… add another passport

It’s not out of the question that you’ll need a health passport – one that states which vaccines you have and your Covid test results – to travel freely in the future. Already Qantas’ CEO has commented that the airline will have a “no vax, no-fly” policy, and digital health passports like CommonPass and ICC AOKPass are gaining popularity with business travellers. How it works is the health passport provides a QR code that’ll show your current Covid-19 status, and more importantly if the test is from a valid partner and in line with individual countries health criteria. While there are concerns over privacy and data, the upside of a health passport is it’ll take some of the administrative hassles out of post-pandemic travelling.

You’ll be taking… longer trips vs. short weekenders

Considering that travelling is about to get a lot more complicated (and possibly more expensive), it’s likely that trips away will be for longer vs. quick getaways to maximise all the pre/post-trip Covid-19 considerations, cost of tests and possibly serving an SHN upon return. Already there’s evidence of a preference for a slower mode of travelling (road trips vs. air travel, sailing and train journeys). Some individuals have even chosen to move away from their home base while remote work remains in force, and countries like Dubai, Iceland, Estonia and Mexico offer remote workers tax-free, self-employed incentives to move there temporarily.

You’ll do well to… choose your destination wisely

If you’ve always hated the pre-trip planning process, we’ve got bad news for you – you’re going to have to do more of it come 2021. Forget the idea of spontaneous travel where all you do is buy air tickets and book a hotel room. Post-pandemic, you’ll need to have the appropriate travel insurance (preferably with Covid-19 coverage), read the fine print around ticket/accommodation cancellations and refunds, stay up to date with an airline’s and destination’s policy regarding Covid-19 tests or vaccinations, and keep regular tabs on the destination and how they handle lockdown and border closures so you won’t be caught off guard. Are you overwhelmed yet?

| Also Read: Should you get travel insurance even if it does not cover COVID-19? |

You’ll be… doing socially distant activities

With urban cities under the threat of lockdowns, a city vacation will likely not be on the cards for 2021. Instead, a better vacation plan would be focused on exploring the great outdoors. Activities like hiking, diving or snorkelling, kayaking and stand-up paddling will replace the usual shopping, sightseeing and foodie centric trips. So, use the time now to get familiar with such activities, so you won’t be suffering through what should be an enjoyable activity.

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