Two years into the pandemic, backpackers who have been staying in Hong Kong must be longing to go on a solo trip abroad to recharge and relax. Travelling during the pandemic not only is an unforgettable experience, it could also be an opportunity to grow. It is crucial to plan ahead and take safety measures into consideration if you would like to enjoy a delightful post-pandemic solo trip.
Whether you are new to solo travel or an experienced backpacker, it is important to plan ahead especially when you are travelling during the pandemic. Travelling under the pandemic means extensive consideration and research on the destination’s entry, quarantine, and other requirements. Get yourself well-prepared with our pandemic travel guide below.
Budget, personal preferences, local culture, and safety are some of the common factors to consider when planning a solo trip, but planning a solo trip during the pandemic often means there are more to consider. Given quarantine is usually the most daunting aspect for most travellers, you might consider travelling to quarantine-free regions to save on quarantine time and costs. It is also important to keep track of the quarantine requirements upon returning to Hong Kong before and during the trip.
Different countries or regions might have different travel restrictions. While some might restrict entry to tour groups only and refuse entry of solo travellers, some might set out different travel restrictions for travellers of different nationalities (country / region / territory). It is crucial to ensure that you are able to meet the quarantine, vaccine, travel visa, and other requirements prior to your departure. Several regions might limit travellers’ access to certain areas in the hopes of balancing the risk of viral transmission and the need for tourism. Some attractions might also be temporarily closed due to business difficulties during the pandemic, or due to various reasons such as new confirmed cases. Try to make sure the attractions are open prior to your departure, so that you might less likely end up in disappointment due to closed attractions.
A number of countries and regions that are once again open for travellers will require additional travel documents, such as proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test. To avoid being hindered when traveling, please prepare all the required documents in advance and conduct the required tests on time. However, being well-prepared does not necessarily mean that accidents could be prevented completely. "How should I handle the situation and notify my relatives and friends if I were tested positive during the trip?", "Should I bring a laptop for flexible work arrangements?", and so on are all additional questions to consider when traveling during the pandemic.
When booking your flights, it is recommended to choose a flight that arrives during the day to minimise unnecessary risks of travelling alone at night. As for accommodation, in addition to hotels and B&Bs, staying in a hostel is also a popular choice amongst a lot of solo travellers. Beyond considering the costs of your accommodation, you might also want to consider online reviews, location, and especially hygiene, to minimise the risk of infection. If you're looking to minimise your travelling cost, consider leveraging credit card offers when booking your flights and accommodations for a chance to earn online spending and cash rebates. In addition to various offers, credit card fees, especially overseas transaction fees, are also credit card information that you should be aware of.
It is important to take out travel insurance because if you fall ill or become injured abroad, travel insurance and its emergency assistance service can give you comprehensive protection and greater sense of security if your holiday does not go as planned. Prior to your departure, be sure to write down the insurer’s service hotline and have an original or a copy of your travel insurance policy with you, so that you can be assisted in the event of an emergency.
Travelling to an unfamiliar place alone might involve certain risks, here are things to pay attention to especially if you are travelling alone during the pandemic.
Every traveler is obliged to comply with the destination’s pandemic restrictions to help prevent the spread of the virus. If travellers are required to download a tracking mobile app, please install the relevant app to avoid violating the local laws and regulations.
Apart from following the local pandemic regulations, you should also maintain good personal hygiene at all times. If you were infected with the virus due to poor personal hygiene during the trip, you are likely going to be requested to go under quarantine, meaning that a pleasant trip will be terminated early.
In addition to the pandemic, solo travellers should also stay alert to thieves and scammers as traveling alone might make you more vulnerable to theft. Taking precautionary measures, such as avoid wearing jewellery or expensive watches, and making good use of anti-theft backpacks or money belts, are keys to reducing the risks of being pickpocketed when travelling alone. You could also consider using a credit card to avoid the conspicuousness of carrying a large amount of cash.
Crimes often happen in the middle of the night or when there are no witnesses, and it could be difficult for a person to escape when they are in danger. If possible, it would be best to plan a safe route in advance and avoid going out late at night or to places with less crowds when travelling alone. You could consider carrying a whistle to use it to call for help and a pepper spray to protect yourself in case of danger.
Your friends and family might not know immediately in case something goes wrong when you are travelling alone. It would be best to stay connected with them throughout your trip and to keep them informed of your travel plans and whereabouts to ensure your safety.
Some might find the “new normal” uneasy and stressful, and the pressure is indeed overwhelming. Find a chance to go on a solo trip, arrange your itinerary as you like, and explore your interests, such as going on an in-depth tour of historical sites to learn about the local history, trying all sorts of local cuisine to experience the local culture, becoming a solo foodie, etc., so that you could adjust and recover from impact of the pandemic.
The pandemic has made it difficult for us to interact with one another, hence when travelling alone, you might consider joining one-day local tours and staying in a hostel to make new friends from all over the world. Just remember to pay attention to your own safety and the personal hygiene of the other party to minimise risks from all aspects.
The spread of COVID-19 around the world has left everyone overwhelmed, perhaps the pandemic is teaching us how to adjust and deal when life throws you a curveball. Similarly, one might encounter unexpected events when travelling alone, such as travel delays, getting lost, losing travel documents, etc. In this case, you could only step up, polish your life skills, and learn to solve your problems on your own to get the most out of the trip.