If there is any industry that has been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, that would be the travel and tourism sector more than anything else. Besides, for the first time in history, more than 90% of the world population is in countries that have imposed some form of travel restriction. Airlines, travel companies and tourism companies have definitely not seen days this bad ever since their conception. To further add to the misery, 25 million jobs in the aviation sector and 100 million in the travel and tourism sector in general could be at stake, with analysts predicting a loss of 5-7 years of travel industry growth!
However, there still seem to be signals that following the ending of lockdowns in many countries that is already taking place, it is quite likely that at least domestic travel could be a reality as early as this summer. The scenario for post COVID-19 international travel is a different story. There cannot be any clear predictions made as of yet. However, it can be easily concluded that immigration checks at the border will become even more strict, with COVID-19 screenings a new normal. Governments might as well request tourists and non-essential travelers to get a certified health check from their respective home countries. Airport staff and officials might want to stay clear from forieign visitors and automated check-ins could become a new reality due to better AI facial and biometric recognition.
These are great theories to ponder on for hours, but the bottom line is, how will the average traveler pack differently, and what will be the new normal for them?
Here are some of our suggestions on what we think every traveler will need for post COVID-19 travel.
- Medical-grade hand sanitizers: Unless governments across the world are still thinking that people sneaking in explosives in liquid containers is more dangerous than the spread of a deadly virus, it is highly likely that the 100 ml rule on aircrafts will start to be relaxed further. Plans to end this outdated travel restriction were already in place before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Obviously, the size allowed might depend on the country you are traveling to, but it would definitely be a bonus to pack a good, medical grade hand sanitizer like Alcogel for travel. It might not be the size of the bottle, but the brand of sanitizer that the travel authorities would scrutinize. A medical-grade sanitizer would be a great thing to stock up in bulk quantities. Depending on the liquids allowance, you can then pack them into appropriate containers.
- High-Quality Face Masks: Another thing that TSA and other airport officials are highly likely to scrutinize upon would be the wearing of face masks. It might not be just enough to wear disposable masks unless it is for domestic air travel. For both your own safety and making sure you don’t get questioned by the TSA more than you need to, a good industrial standard mask is what you need to buy in advance of your flight. It is better to be safe than sorry. Even though the idea of seeing millions of international travelers back in action seems far-fetched as of now, sooner or later it will have to become a reality. Being prepared in advance will go a long way.
- First-aid bags: Rather than for cuts, bruises and burns, an ideal post COVID-19 first-aid bag should carry high strength cold and flu medication. Obviously, you need to first check whether the medication will not make you susceptible to COVID-19. This is because even mild symptoms of cold and flu could make you an ideal target for denial of entry into a country. You need to make sure you take medication early and avoid any further worsening of even mild cold and flu symptoms which are quite frequent in international flights, especially ones which take you from one climate zone to another. This will also make sure you don’t weaken even a slight bit for the COVID-19 virus to get you.
- When all else fails, the mighty respirator!: Despite taking all precautions and hoping that you are traveling to a country that has been relatively safe from fatalities due to COVID-19 like Australia, Thailand or Vietnam, what if you do get infected? The risks will always be there unless a vaccine is discovered, and given the communicability of the disease, there is no sure-shot protection against COVID-19. If you are still thinking of a great getaway vacation, in the post COVID-19 world that would mean carrying a respirator. A good, portable respirator that can be easily packed in your travel bag, will be your ultimate life-saver in case the other preventative measures didn’t work.
Whatever be the fate of international traveling, having the 4 items above could make your post COVID-19 travel a lot safer. They are also not likely to take up that much space, and with a little foresight and planning, you can make way for essentials like these and remove excess items from your packing list.