Travel During Covid Times: The Responsible Way To Travel In The Current Scenario

Published on: Aug. 25, 2020

Author : Jamila Kapasi Jamila Kapasi

Being locked down at our homes for a few months now, it's only natural to feel like going out on a trip as we hear of places slowly unlocking around us but as a traveller it is our responsibility to be sensible and thoughtful about the places we plan to visit and most importantly towards locals and other fellow travellers. So, if you are planning to immediately go on a trek in the Himalayas or vacation with your friends at a nearby hill station, here are a couple of things that you need to be extremely mindful of.

Having said so, we still strongly believe that with 70000 + recorded positive cases, it is not the right time to travel for leisure and recreational purposes and we need to see a decline before planning our next trip.

So, heading out on a holiday or a trek, here are some of the things that YOU SHOULD NOT DO

1. Do not join a travel or trekking group

It is not the right time to travel with strangers. Monitoring temperatures is not enough to determine if a person is covid positive or not. Sometimes covid tests are faulty and unfortunately many fake false negative certificates as well. Even with a negative certificate there is no guarantee that one cannot catch the virus while in transit.

2. Do not travel with limited information and data
Just because a state has claimed to allow travellers, do a thorough research before heading out to it. Several districts, and rightfully so, are not allowing tourists even if you have the e-pass and a covid negative certificate and even if they do, the guidelines are not regulated and standardised. Here are a couple of questions that you need clear answers to

  • Is a covid negative certificate required? How many hours before should the test be taken?

  • Details of checkpoints along the way especially if you are planning a trip/trek in the Himalayan states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Find out where the checkpoints are located and what guidelines they follow. Remember, as there are no standardised guidelines, each checkpoint might have their own set of pre-requisites.

  • Nearest hospital where covid related medical treatment can be availed including emergency numbers

  • Are the locals allowing tourists?

  • Mode and method of transport and the relevant cost and permits for the same

  • Accommodation details and the minimum stay duration

  • Quarantine rules not only limited to the state but the individual district and village as well

  • If you are booking your trip with a travel/trek company, ensure they have the answers to all of the above questions

To give an example, you must have heard the latest buzz of the Valley of flowers trek opening up in Uttarakhand. And as eager as you might be to pack your bags and leave immediately our sources have told us that reaching Joshimath (the base village of VOF) is not an easy feat. From multiple checkpoints, each having their own set of rules, some accepting a covid negative certificate taken 72 hrs prior whereas some not ready to let you go ahead if the test was taken more than 36 hrs ago to having very limited accommodation options at the villages of Govindghat and Ghangaria, everything is still in a state of chaos and confusion. Over time things will get easier but with such a high number of daily cases and lack of any medical infrastructure in those regions, the locals are still reluctant of tourists.

3. Do not travel in large groups
Even if you are planning a trip with your friends and family, it is still very important to limit the group size to a few. Apart from that, it is absolutely ok and essential to question each other's social, travel and medical history before heading out on the trip and be extremely honest about it.

4.Do not sign up for experiential travel trips
We, the biggest advocator of experiential travelling are actually telling you that this is not the right time to seek local interactions and experiences. More than now than ever we have a responsibility towards the local community and we cannot risk spreading the virus to these sensitive regions.  

But we understand that being cooped up at home for 5 long months can be stressful and the news of places opening up to tourists can be tempting, so here are some of the things that YOU CAN DO.

1. Start with small local trips & activities

India is a country blessed with a varied topography and each state has its own share of beautiful lakes, reservoirs, hills, waterfalls and forests around it. Why don’t you drive down to a nearby lake with a nice picnic basket or explore that hill that you always wanted to. Biking, bicycling and running are some of the activities that you can do with safe distance as well. 

2. Carry your own food or do thorough research of the sanitization followed by the restaurant that you plan to dine in
3. Avoid crowded and touristy places

Over the last few weeks, I have discovered several beautiful and scenic spots around my city where I haven’t come across another soul. Such places do exist, with some research and the beautiful technology provided to us by Google Maps, you can discover them too.

4. Opt for staycations or long duration trips

If it comes down to traveling/trekking to other states, opt for staycations or long duration trips. Even with the quarantine rules becoming more lax with each passing day, as long as the daily count is this high, it is essential for our safety as well as others to still follow them. With properties opening up for Staycations, you can travel to a beautiful location, observe quarantine, and then travel around the surrounding areas. Even if you are planning to go on a trek, we feel it's a responsible move to quarantine yourself first and then move to the sensitive regions.

5. Always wear a face mask and follow proper sanitization

This of course goes without saying, but we still have to.

With each passing day the situation in our country is changing and we do hope that by October we can start seeing a decline in the number of daily cases. We ourselves are eagerly waiting for the days where we can travel like the way we used to again but we cannot be reckless about it now and cause more damage than good. We are open to any questions and would love to hear your views. Do let us know in the comment section below.