With the rollout of vaccines, those fantasies of traveling again are starting not to feel like wishful thinking. For sure there is hope. In fact, a new survey from Harvest Hosts, a membership club for RVers, found that 76% of those polled said they plan to travel more than they did in 2020, and nearly 60% plan to travel more than they did in 2019 before the pandemic. Most of that traveling though will be state side, as more than 80% said they do not plan to travel internationally this year.

So if you’re in the crowd that’s itching to go, experts say not to look for the travel landscape that you left, even when the pandemic is in the rearview mirror. Here’s what to expect and how best to prepare for a new world order so you’re not so stressed traveling that you regret that you left home.

Plan well in advance

Some travel companies allow you to book as far out as 24 months, and may even offer you incentives to do so, says Edyta Satchell, CEO and founder of Satchelle Global Travel Wellness. These options usually offer flexible cancellation and change policies, but always read the fine print and ask plenty of questions before booking. Even if you’re a pretty savvy DIYer, “with the uncertainty swirling around all types of travel, you might want to book with a travel agent to have an extra set of eyes on everything and to help navigated complex changes, ever-shifting entry and departure requirements, and more,” says Satchelle.

Pack smart

There are new essentials to take with you on a every trip. I always recommend bringing multiple types of face masks with you. It will allow you to change it in the event it becomes dirty or simply uncomfortable. It may get oily and greasy from makeup and food as well. Another must-have item is a thermometer. It will alleviate a lot of anxiety and stress. You will be able to take your temperature anytime, anywhere. “If your temperature becomes slightly elevated, you can take a cold drink, spray your face with cooling water, or even meditate for a few minutes to de-stress,” says Satchelle.

Bring easy-to-handle, see-thru containers to hold food and other perishable items you want to carry. You don’t want to get nervous going through security, as that will raise your body temperature.

Consider Cancel-for-Any-Reason coverage

This type of travel insurance can be used for whatever you deem necessary. You can cancel for fear of something potentially happening, including coronavirus concerns.

Like all things financial, read the fine print. For example, be clear what percentage of the trip might be either refunded in cash or returned in a credit.

Stay informed

“Continue to be aware of any health risks for where you are headed and any (if applicable) restrictions that may still be in place. For example, if a vaccine is necessary or proof of a vaccine is necessary, one should know that prior to travel. If there are still health risks in a certain area or if there remains any recommendations or restrictions upon return from a destination, travelers should know these in advance,” says Keri Baugh, family travel blogger for Bon Voyage With Kids.

In terms of lingering restrictions and changes, Craig Zapatka, co-founder of Elsewhere, a direct-to-local travel marketplace, recommends keeping an eye on the Vaccine Passport and to prepare to pay for travel insurance. “Countries such as Costa Rica are already requiring travelers to show proof of insurance before arrival. And we are certain that the Vaccine Passport will quickly replace the negative COVID-19 test if the traveler has been vaccinated,” says Zapatka.

The key to less stressful travel and planning, says Baugh, is to research, research, research.

One place to start is the official visitor website or government-run website of the destination you’re visiting. “Then, look at their Facebook or Twitter accounts for the most up-to-date information. It doesn’t hurt to also go to forum sites like Reddit or TripAdvisor to look for recent posts about the destination or to ask your own questions that locals might be able to answer,” says Mimi McFadden, owner of the blog The Atlas Heart.
Says McFadden, “As someone who has still done some local travel during the pandemic, I can say from personal experience that researching the destination fully and looking at the official websites and social media accounts of the places I’m visiting has made trips way less stressful because I know exactly what to expect and how to prepare.”