Moi, a law student whose international travels have been postponed way too many times, is keen on flying out as the world reopens under the new normal. She’s always been an eager planner, but seeing long list of requirements to cross borders is a reality check that travel just isn’t the same as it was.
Like many other Filipinos, Moi is set on fulfilling her revenge travel dreams. She just can’t do it like she used to before the pandemic hit.
“It’s kind of harder to travel rin now because they expect you to be fully in the new normal, but you can’t really get rid of the pandemic anxiety plus so many new protocols across different places to learn,” Moi said.
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More requirements for travel
Booking flights and hotel rooms solo might be manageable, but it gets complicated for family trips. Add visa applications for some destinations and you’ve doubled the stress with delivering the requirements to the nearest travel agency or embassy. Plus, you don’t even know if it will get approved.
As if it weren’t difficult enough, tourists have to move with COVID-19 in mind. Every country has its own guidelines which could change at the drop of a hat, depending on its COVID situation.
“But the thing is, each country will have their own system and some of them you can sign up for in advance, some when you arrive,” Moi added.
You also need proof of vaccination, or VaxCertPh, but depending on your local government unit or issuing institution, there are times the vaccine records are not up to date or missing information. Some countries require sign-ups for their own contact tracing apps, oftentimes in their native language.
“Not only do you have to know the usual things like money conversion, local spots, usual customs or cultural differences to take note of, but also the new COVID things like: Do they require a test before or as soon as you land? Is there a local QR thing? How many vaccines do you need? In case you feel ill, where do you go or what do you do?” she said.
More preparation for the itinerary
Once the flight and hotel bookings are settled, Moi said planning the trip includes researching on where foriegn tourists are allowed.
“To avoid the stress, you really have to see what you can do before leaving and try to get whatever you can done while still here,” she said.
“I prefer to learn about the destination and anything that isn’t technically necessary but could make the trip go more smoothly, like: checking out the surrounding shops or restos near the hotel, travel wi-fi, if the family wants to see or eat anything, I note possible spots,” Moi said.
She shares the burden of making plans with her mom, who likes to prepare as much as she does. Still, Moi acknowledges that she may have to handle all the digital requirements once their family decides to push through.
Digital everything is the future of travel to minimize contact.
“Definitely, it is or will be a very important aspect of travelling moving forward, I think. Hopefully most of it will be QR? Because that seems to be the trend,” Moi said.
Moi’s friend, Ida, said “it pays to have a young person in the family who can deal with tech or online stuff.”
“In theory, the [older family members] know it’s easier now because essentially you erase the long lines, but this is also coupled with the knowledge na iaasa lang nila lahat sa mga batits (bata),” Ida added.
Who's taking care of the house?
When asked if her family was travelling soon, Moi said “...not anytime soon, I think. I mean I do, but family? Not yet.”
Moi’s dad, an Overseas Filipino Worker, has his own schedule that must meet the kids' school schedule halfway.
Their family also has a dog with separation anxiety and another dog born during the pandemic and hasn’t witnessed the family’s prolonged absence. They are yet to see how both dogs will handle multiple days without them.
“You have to factor in new expenses, like testing here and there, in case there’s a required quarantine by the time you travel, extra COVID insurance, which I saw they charge with the ticket in some airlines,” Moi said.
Most countries scrapped quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers, but quarantine is mandatory for those who test positive upon arrival. It’s an unfortunate outcome for travelers headed to countries issuing visas with fixed dates.
Moi’s friend, Ida, shares the same sentiments: “it cuts days or weeks from your travel, or just makes expenses skyrocket.”
So who’s going to travel now?
“Similar to how we saw a lot of people live the “digital nomad” life during the pandemic, I think we’re gonna see around the same age range also for international travel,” Moi said.
Moi said she thinks the new work setup is a way for the younger workers to travel. “I think travel will be more common with younger bracket,” Moi said, as the two generations also value mental well-being and are tech-savvy enough to keep up with all the digital know-how needed to travel.
“Which is interesting because we don’t really have the finances talaga to support that, but we’re also tech-savvy, or more inclined to go for budget flights, AirBnB promos,” she said.