The travel ban on Americans visiting Europe has officially ended and it could not have come at a better time. With some countries requiring vaccinations and/or negative PCR tests before arrival, there are many options for where you can spend the summer. After a year of lockdowns and ongoing news stories about the pandemic, making the decision to travel again can feel overwhelming. In 2020, after watching luxury travel content creators Jeremy Austin and Angie Villa, amongst others travel to Europe, I was able to see another side to the traditional media narrative, turning my worry into wonder as I thought about the possibilities of working remotely while traveling.
It’s important to always make decisions based on what is right for you and your circumstances. If you want to take a trip but are feeling uncertain, make a list of the things that are causing anxiety and design backwards. For example, I was nervous about being around large crowds, so I opted for islands vs big cities, choosing Milos and Mykonos over Athens in Greece. I was also nervous about sharing things, so I opted for private tours vs group ones. I didn’t want to be around a rowdy nightlife scene, so I opted for brunches and lunches instead of dinners. I wasn’t comfortable traveling within the United States, so I chose international destinations versus domestic ones.
Over the past year I’ve traveled to England, Turkey, Italy, Greece and Spain. I’ve never felt more safe while traveling and if you want to see the travel stories you can head to my Instagram @AskMsQ.
I’ve also never had to be as organized as I’ve been to ensure that all the requirements have been met. I’ve often referred to my travels as a field trip in leadership. It has been fascinating to watch and learn from other leaders as to how they have organized travel, created trust between brands and individuals, and adapted to the ongoing pandemic. As you plan your first post pandemic trip here are three strategies to keep in mind to turn your worry into wonder, and your anxiety into adventure.
Organize Your Travels with TripIt
Being organized during a trip has never been more important. You could spend your time organizing all your documents or you can have TripIt do it for you. The app connects to your email and as every reservation, from Being organized during a trip has never been more important. You could spend your time organizing all your documents or you can have TripIt do it for you. The app connects to your email and as every reservation, from flights to restaurants, comes in it automatically populates an itinerary for you. It also includes all the pertinent information for these places such as the address, phone number and times. The itinerary then syncs to your calendar and as someone who has been working remotely this has been incredibly helpful in being able to schedule personal and professional commitments. Between passenger locator forms, test results and QR codes needed at many different points during travel, it’s helpful to have everything consolidated and easy to reference with a tap.
Of all the different options I’ve tried, TripIt has been the most comprehensive and easy-to-use. I also like the visual aspect of the itinerary TripIt designs compared to a list. When you have to make adjustments on the fly, having a visual layout of activities/times allows you to edit items with a few taps.
Create All Your Reservations in Advance
Prior to the pandemic I used to have the usual reservations in place – hotels and maybe an excursion or two. While I always have an itinerary, for the most part I would land and then book most things depending on how I felt. I’d have a general idea of what I wanted to do but never really worried about what tour company I was booking with or what Uber was going to pick me up.
Over the past year I’ve booked every detail, from airport pick up and drop off to private tour guides, from restaurants to car rentals. Having these reservations in advance ensures that I’ve chosen people who I have had the opportunity to review online, reducing a tremendous amount of anxiety. Reservations are also one the most important ways companies and services know what to expect and plan for.
In London for example, without a reservation you will pretty much have an empty itinerary. In addition, the last thing you want to spend your time doing on vacation is being on the phone trying to find a tour or a reservation for dinner..
While private cars and tours can sometimes cost more, the comfort of knowing that you don’t have to worry about whether the person next to you is vaccinated or whether they doctored their Covid results is a huge relief and allows that worry to turn into wonder as you immerse yourself in your trip. The only time I’ve generally made an exception to private tours have been boat trips. I’ve found those to be way more fun with other people and with reduced capacity and being in the open water, I’ve felt incredibly safe with a group.
It’s important to keep in mind as you design your itinerary to not fill it hour by hour. While there can always be uncertainties on trips, allowing for flexibility will cause less stress if something takes longer than usual.
Explore Remote Locations
How you travel will be the difference that makes a difference. Choosing a metropolitan city versus an island will be a different experience. Personally I recommend the latter. Two highlights for me were Milos in Greece and Fethiye and Cappadocia in Turkey. In all of these places everything was more spread out, I was generally around less people, and the activities were on sand, in the sea, or in the sky. Milos, in particular, has 73 beaches and both Milos Breeze and Artemis Deluxe Rooms were incredible places to stay! While there are the obvious popular options, cities like these give you as a traveler lots of options. While I wouldn’t shy away from cities, if you are easing back into things an island will definitely be the way to go.
One of the ways in which I chose my locations was by following the place on Instagram. For example, I wanted to visit Sultan Cave Suites in Cappadocia. I followed them, watched their stories and the stories that other people were posting and it gave me insight and perspective about what it would be like, what to expect and what to plan for.
Whether you are doing a staycation a few miles away or a trip a few thousand miles away, take some time to relax, refresh and rejuvenate.
I believe that the future should be designed. Not left to chance.
Over the past decade, using design thinking practices I've helped schools and businesses create a culture of innovation where everyone is empowered to move from idea to impact, to address complex challenges and discover opportunities.