Traveling during a pandemic, we've learned a lot. And we're here to share what we've learned in the hope it helps you on your next travel adventure.
1. Pack carry on whenever possible. If a flight gets cancelled and you want to quickly jump on another one, you are going to have many more options available to you if you didn't check a bag. Carrying on may seem daunting, but you'd be surprised how relaxing it can be when you a) don't have to spend forever packing and b) don't have tons of options to decide between every time you get dressed on your trip. Packing in packing cubes also makes life so much easier. These are our favorite cubes: Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack
2. Always purchase travel insurance Trust us. It provides massive peace of mind, gives you options and flexibility, and can save you big $$$ if you have to cancel last minute. Some top companies include Travelex, Allianz, and World Nomads.
Most travel insurers cover the costs associated with medical care and trip interruption on the basis of a positive COVID-19 test result. It is still important to ensure that your insurance policies cover COVID-19 related incidents.
3. Book with a reliable airline and/or with a flight desk If something goes wrong during your air transit (lost bag, missed connection, cancelled flight), you're going to want a customer service/help desk team that is on it and reputable. (You're also going to want travel insurance, see point 2). Saving a hundred or even a few hundred dollars by booking with a budget airline has a good chance of coming back to bite you during COVID-era travel.
We've heard numerous horror stories of bags being lost for months (Air Portugal) and multi-city reroutes and refusals to cancel/refund massively delayed flights (American). Our favorite airlines for traveling to and from Africa are United (we love the direct flight from Newark to Cape Town or Johannesburg) and Delta (we love the direct flight from Atlanta). Booking with a flight desk (like American Express) can also save precious time if you need customer assistance for a flight quickly and want to speak to an actual human being.
4. Use TravelDoc TravelDoc is an amazing online resource that clearly outlines which documents, test results, and forms you need to exit, enter, or transit through any country. It also covers which visas you may need and more.
5. Pre-book your travel PCR test well in advance With PCR tests being harder and harder to come by, make sure you book yours far in advance if you need it for travel. Make sure to also understand the timeframe you need the test to be taken within and the slowest (not fastest) potential turnaround time of results.
Above: Getting a PCR test done out in the bush!
Bonus Tip: If your ears get really sore from N95s, wear noise cancelling headphones (if you have them) and loop your ear straps over the headphones to relieve the pressure on your ears. We got this idea from The Points Guys who always have great travel insights.
If these past two years have taught us anything, it's how much we value being able to get off the beaten path when we travel. Get remote, get outside, and get planning.
We are still seeing far more short-term availability than is typical for the safari industry. If you're thinking of planning a trip to Africa, reach out and we can tell you what your options are.
Safe (and stress-free) travels!
Hadley and Jomi