international travel

Image supplied by author

How to plan for international travel despite restrictions

Although borders remain closed and uncertainty veils the future, there are still ways to get the travel ball rolling for your next overseas escape.

international travel

Image supplied by author

For the travellers who revel in the marvel of travel long before they board their planes, and enjoy meticulously planning their travel itineraries months before, the last few months would have felt like quite a shock.

With no indication of when South African borders are to open, and as the pandemic swiftly sweeps across different countries, it’s been hard to really pin-point future holiday destinations, let alone the possibility of booking tours, accommodation and flights.

However, there are a few items we can check off now to help us speed off into distant horizons as soon as travel welcomes us back.

Scope out low-risk destinations

If you’re undecided about where to head on your first post-pandemic vacation, it may be wise to immediately rule out high-risk countries like, currently, the United States, Brazil and India.

With their COVID-19 case numbers soaring over the millions, it’s unlikely that their case numbers and the corresponding risk will swiftly decline soon — unless a vaccine is approved and administered. For now, it may be safest to move your visit to the Statue of Liberty, Taj Mahal or Christ the Redeemer to the bottom of your travel bucket-list.

Don’t despair, though, there are still plenty of destinations left to soak up.

New Zealand, an adventurer’s playground, recently surpassed a 100-day COVID-19 free record — despite having since uncovered new cases — and still remains one of the lowest-risk countries.

Alternatively, for those craving Europe’s ambience, Georgia, one of the few European countries that South Africans can visit visa-free, cumulatively recorded just over 1,200 cases, and may be a safe gamble.

Dozens of other countries have across the globe have long since re-opened and have managed to contain their cases.

Commit to researching countries with low case numbers, keep track of countries experiencing second waves, and, then, use these statistics to inform your destination decision. Keep in mind that the numbers fluctuate and nothing is set in stone.

You may not be able to jet off right this moment, but having an idea of where you may be headed can give you something to look forward to and will enable you to investigate activities and itineraries.

Consider ‘Pay now, travel later’ options

Many travel agencies, tour companies and hotels, in an effort to maintain their cash flow and keep doors open, have offered deals that allow travellers to pay now, but to travel or stay later at a possible date.

Often, these deals are marked at a discounted price and offer flexible travel dates. These are worth serious consideration — who doesn’t want to save a buck?

Make sure that the agency or accommodation you may choose is reputable and has numerous reviews before securing your exciting new adventure.

Gather travel documents and have them ready to go

If you don’t yet have a passport or are in need of a new one, locate your nearest application office, gather photos and required information, and stash away your relevant application fee. Then, keep track of the news and developments to hear the soonest date that you may file your application for processing.

Find out now if the destination you’ve chosen to go to needs a visa, and if so, track down your nearest application centre, and start gathering all the necessary documents you may need for your application.

Schengen visas, for example, usually have lengthy requirements, including multiple copies of documents, letters from hosts (if applicable), photos according to specifications; so you can start accumulating and organising everything in advance.

Once applications are possible, all you’ll have to do will be to simply procure last-minute documents that cannot be acquired beforehand (like flight tickets, if applicable for your application) and secure your visa application date.

These few steps may not replicate the thrill experienced when your airline emails you your flight confirmation, but are sure to hype you up a little, renew your travel spark, and make sure that once border restrictions are eased, you’re ready to go!

Also read: Could a COVID passport be the answer for future travel?