COVID-19 Travel is possible?

COVID-19 Travel? It can be done!

December 8, 2020

COVID-19 travel seems impossible to so many of us… Is it safe? Can we get flights? Will we have to jump through hoops?

Well, our mission at Art In Voyage is to make sure that our guests get the best of everything, and that means that we need to vet each of our destinations ourselves to make sure that they are indeed up to scratch. So, with the world in a spin, our CEO packed up and left a sunny Cape Town for a trip around the world!

And he LOVED it… So here is what he has to say about COVID-19 travel!

COVID-19 Travel
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Utah COVID-19 Travel
Covid-19 travel
Art in Voyage

WITH ALL THAT'S GOING ON IN THE WORLD TODAY, WORK CONTINUED AND YOU WENT ON A TRIP FOR AIV - WHERE ALL DID YOU GO?

My journey originally included France, where I had planned on visiting some new properties to offer to our guests in 2021 and beyond, as well as Switzerland and Austria. Sadly though, due to a last-minute lockdown of most European countries, I had to make some small changes, leave earlier than expected and head out to the U.S West Coast. There, I started an incredible and memorable road trip. I started with the famous Pacific Coast Highway of California, and retraced the itinerary we actually feature in our CLASSICS OF CALIFORNIA journey – ending up in the beautiful seaside town of Carmel.

The second part of this journey took me through the incredible and diverse farm & ranch countryside of California, on my way to National Death Valley and Yosemite National Park. The third part of my journey had me re-discover Zion and Moab National parks, before ending in Crescendo at the memorable (and historic) Dunton Hot Springs. There, owner, Christoph Henkel, turned Ghost town Dunton, a forgotten corner of Colorado, into a luxury resort where each cabin was named after the miners who built them in the 1880s. Back then, Dunton was a thriving homestead settled by miners digging for gold and silver, but by 1919, it was largely deserted. During my stay, the first snow started to fall on these mountains located on the southwestern side of Colorado, and by the time I left, the whole area was under a beautiful white blanket at least a foot high.

Finally, the last part of my journey took place in the historic town of Charleston, SC. There, in the spirit of Art In Voyage’s promise to guests, I tried and inspected new properties, as well as new restaurants and wine lounges which we will be featuring in our annual Food & Wine Festival journey there, adding to an already amazing experience.

Car COVID-19 Travel
SUnset Moab
Moab
Art in Voyage
Art in Voyage

WE ARE ALL A BIT NERVOUS ABOUT "ROUTINE" THINGS THESE DAYS, LIKE TRAVELING. BUT THAT'S THE NEW NORM, RIGHT? SO WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU?

Well, the plan was to debunk the myth we have all heard about COVID-19 travel. While a lot is incorrect or mentioned in the wrong context, there are indeed some truths to a few of them. However, it all comes down to the flexibility one has. If you are open to last-minute changes or small modifications to your itinerary, now is the perfect time to travel. Fewer people everywhere, great pricing and conditions, and half-empty flights providing you opportunities to upgrade for just a few bucks. Furthermore, the majority of countries now require a negative PCR test to board a plane or enter, which has the added benefit of reassuring you that all fellow travelers around you are pretty much COVID-free.

All in all, the transportation part of my 4-country/15-destinations journey was a breeze. Unfortunately, some of the hotels and their services were disappointing. Many have used covid-19 as an excuse, blaming the pandemic for limited services in the rooms and on property. But when you speak with staffers and even some managers, it is all about cutting costs, not about hygiene protocols. With the lack of tourism this year, many of them have had rough times coping financially, and should probably have stayed closed as opposed to limiting their services. That said, I am confident it should start getting back to normal soon. I am glad I got to experience this for myself, for this makes us more aware of what properties not to send guests to, as well as look for those which continue to go above and beyond for individuals open to travel during these difficult times.

Emirates COVID-19 travel
Covid Mask
COvid-19 travel
Covid-19 travel
Art in Voyage

MASKS ARE A BIG PART OF OUR LIVES THESE DAYS, FOR THE MOST PART AT LEAST. WHAT KIND OF MASK DID YOU USE? DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS OR TRICKS THAT YOU LEARNED ON YOUR TRIP?

I have several types, one of which is the one with built-in valves. Masks are definitely enforced on flights, and here again, it does vary depending on who you are flying with. Certain airlines allow the masks with the built-in valve or vent, others categorically ban it on board (Delta for example).  It seems that is good enough for airports and most public places, but not for some airlines. To me, there seem to be a few discrepancies across the board with all the rules that change from airline to airline, from city to city, from state to state.  I make this point because it is one of the main reasons some of our guests are nervous about traveling during these times. That said though, I’d recommend having a standard surgical mask with you at all times. Airlines will provide you with one if you do not have the type they have approved though, so there is always a fallback should you have an issue. I would also recommend our readers upgrade to business class whenever flying internationally. There, enforcement of the mask rule while at your seat is not as stringent, mostly because of space, and separation that exists between business class seats. I would always recommend doing a little bit of homework before you fly – all airlines do make their rules clear on their websites, which will make your COVID-19 travel a little easier. It is also important to remember children – different airlines have different requirements for them too!

To find out a little more about masks, click here

Hotel
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Dunton springs
Art in Voyage
Hotel

TRAVELLING OBVIOUSLY MEANS STAYING IN DIFFERENT ACCOMMODATIONS - HOW DID YOU FIND THAT? DID YOU FEEL SAFE AND STILL COMFORTABLE?

I love discovering new places, especially properties we can feel proud to present our guests and include in our journeys. Here again, if you look beyond some of the inconsistent protocols from one property to the other, all the places I have stayed at felt very safe. There is no doubt they are taking our safety, and that of their staff, very seriously. There is however a fine line between safety protocols and inconvenience. To that effect, I must say my stay at higher-end properties such as the beautiful Chateau Du Sureau or Dunton Hot Springs provided me the best experience. There, owners and associates understand the two components do not have to clash. Both properties offered enhanced COVID-19 protocols while maintaining the standards they are known for and the services we have all become accustomed to. I felt extremely safe throughout.

Listen, I came back from this long journey, meeting all these lovely people across the US, traveling thousands of miles by road and air, staying at over 20 properties, completely negative and COVID-19 free. It just goes to show you that as long as you implement the basics (mask, some social distancing, and proper hygiene), there is really no fear to be had. Traveling during a pandemic does not have to frightening or risky.

 

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Art in Voyage
Death valley
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WHILE YOU WERE IN THE STATES, YOU TRAVELED DOMESTICALLY QUITE A BIT. HOW DID THAT COMPARE TO INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL?

I was quite surprised actually. All we hear on the news is the fact that only a few states have embraced the safety protocols that have been recommended by the CDC. Yet, at no time during my journey (again, 6 states and over 15 towns/cities) did I find myself in an area where people would not wear a mask. At no point in time did I dine at a restaurant or grab a coffee where social distancing was not enforced. Even during my countryside road trips, and my stops at forgotten gas stations in the middle of nowhere, mask-wearing was a requirement. I feel that many places are doing their part but because the state these places are located in may not have a mandate, one can too quickly assume that it is not the case. I think cities and businesses, as well as counties, have come in where state or federal authorities may have failed.

What has become accepted as the norm all over Europe or even here in Africa (Dubai, South Africa) has been widely, in my opinion, and based on what I have seen, embraced in the US too. We just hear about the few who don’t, and not enough about the many who do. I would say that Europeans and even Africans since this is where I spend most of my time, are much less feisty about it and have a stronger reliance on contact tracing, as well as the taking of temperature and hand cleansing on entry. Yet, they have also suffered much more economically despite their legendary discipline. There is nothing like an international tour to open our eyes and show you that one solution does not fit all.

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Utah
Whiskey
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Charleston

IF YOU COULD GIVE 'PAST YOU' THREE PIECES OF ADVICE FOR THIS TRIP, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?

First… TRAVEL! If you are relatively healthy, and flexible, and open-minded, TRAVEL! There will be minor obstacles, but if you are open to making changes during your journey, or have the flexibility to delay your departure a few days from the original date, TRAVEL! Arm yourself with a strong knowledgeable travel advisor (Hi, my name is Mikael and I happen to be a strong knowledgeable travel advisor) to make sure you are well looked after, and TRAVEL! It is truly safe to do so. I felt safer on a plane or at all the hotels I stayed at than I do at my local grocery store. Traveling during a pandemic is not for everyone, there is no doubt there. But if you are able to, and willing to deal with some small hiccups, then do so. The deals are incredible, the destinations are quiet and a joy to discover, and all the travel professionals, from flight attendants to hoteliers to restaurant owners are so much nicer than they may be during normal times. They are so happy to see us, travelers, that we get that special treatment we may soon be longing for as hordes of tourists get to the skies once again.

Next – do your homework. It is easy to think you know all that you have to do, but a lot of that can be little things you don’t always think about. This is why we go through it. So we may be better travel advisors, and friends.

Finally – be open-minded. Travel has changed slightly over the last year, and it will continue to evolve. But change is a good thing. It can be said that this time last year, most tourists were just a number. Now, the level of attention we get is incredible! Locals are excited to see us, and make sure we are treated better than ever!

 

 

Art in Voyage
Art in Voyage
Art in Voyage
Art in Voyage
Art in Voyage

URBAN MYTH HAS SHAPED OUR OPINIONS ON A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT THINGS RECENTLY. ARE THERE ANY THAT COME TO MIND THAT YOU CAN DISPEL FOR US?

I get incredibly upset when people make assumptions. Just think about it: I have just returned from a 4 week-journey through 5 countries, spent over 50 hours on flights, visited over 15 cities, interacted and dined with tens of individuals, stopped at more coffee places than one can count, stayed at over 22 hotels. Yet, I still tested negative, twice, on my way home. Yes, I did use common sense (mask, social distancing when doable, proper hygiene) but did not let it stop me. Yet, if you listen to what’s being said out there about the alleged higher risks associated with traveling, I should have been infected, right? I’d say this: “stay safe, use common sense, do not shy away from social interactions (mask and some distancing in mind, always), wash your hands (I can’t believe we had to create campaigns for this to become a thing), and avoid pushing your friends away (they have no reason to put you at risk). Use a calm and reasonable approach to your decision-making process, and rely on science without overthinking it. Yet, at the end of the day, it’s only a good decision if you are comfortable with it. And no one can fault you for having your good health and safety in mind.

STAY CONNECTED and KEEP ON DREAMING!

Mikael Covid-19 travel
Charleston
Charleston
Charleston
CHarleston

With all of that said... what does this mean for you - the traveler reading this?

Well, the answer to that is simple…

COVID-19 is real… but so is your bucket list! And there is no reason why you can’t continue to check it off safely if you follow the protocols and recommendations set out by those really in the know!

So, why not start planning your next trip? To help you out… here are a few of Mikael’s favorite destinations to travel to right now!

South Africa
Croatia
Sri Lanka
Tanzania
French Polynesia
Maldives
Turkey
Costa Rica

 

To find out more about Mikael, just click here! 

 

To find out more about our COVID-19 protocols just click here, or to find out about our Peace of Mind policies, just click here