Travel is a great gift. With travel, it’s possible to pack a bag in one town, state, or country and in just a few hours or even a day be in a completely different place. It makes it possible to experience a new culture and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Even business travel can be exciting. It’s work, but it’s working with a twist. It’s not just going to the same home office or office building day after day. There’s just that little bit of “different.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced different elements of travel to change. So whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, travel is much more complicated post-pandemic, so your travel checklist to avoid headaches and be prepared for emergencies has gotten longer.

But if you haven’t traveled since the pandemic, it can be overwhelming to jump back into the travel game. What’s different now? Will I need more time to board a flight? What about Allianz travel insurance – is it necessary? All of this will be covered in an easy-to-follow travel checklist.

Pandemic Era Air Travel

Some of the biggest travel changes have come in airports and on airplanes. In the years before COVID-19, people were most concerned with blizzards disrupting travel, but now it might just be missing a necessary step or being unprepared.

Air travel in the pandemic era is more stressful than ever. Many of the early requirements – masks and vaccinations – aren’t currently required, but that doesn’t mean everything is back to normal. 

One of the biggest changes is the loss of an airline. When so many flights were grounded during the early months and years of the pandemic, those airlines had to make some tough decisions. One of those decisions was the merging of Frontier and Spirit airlines.

It makes good business sense, but it makes it that much harder on travelers. Now there are fewer flights to choose from and fewer seats to get to those destinations. On top of that, airlines are still fighting scheduling and staffing issues. So a sometimes stressful experience is now almost guaranteed to be hectic.

International Travel Changes

If you are traveling internationally, you can expect some big changes. Different countries require COVID testing and/or vaccination status before entering the country. It’s vitally important that you check the requirements of your destination before you go to the airport.

If the travel destination requires a negative COVID test, you’ll need to make arrangements to complete that in the days or weeks before departure. Few airports provide those testing services, so it will most likely need to be completed prior to your airport arrival. 

You’ll also want to check with your healthcare provider about any necessary COVID boosters and the corresponding documentation. Once you have that documentation, find a safe and accessible place to keep it while traveling. 

General Pandemic Era Changes

For many, travel was halted for months if not years while COVID-19 raged. Even though it’s beginning to pick back up, the travel landscape is vastly different now. But some of those changes are good!

Travelers and providers alike are focusing more on sustainable travel practices. People are focused on healing – both for the population and the world – and they want to see that focus in how they travel. That’s really good news.

Because the pandemic forced people to stay inside and away from others, travel after the pandemic is focusing on getting back to nature and small towns. People are wanting to still be mindful of spreading sickness without sacrificing experiences. Nature allows for that balance – an amazing experience without overcrowding.

Small towns, too, were hit hard with less travel and stay-at-home orders. People around the world have watched small towns suffer endlessly. But now people want to get back to supporting small and supporting local. Small towns are and will continue to see an uptick in tourism.

Most importantly, everyone is focused on time and quality, not quantity. Many travelers are reexamining where they’re going and why. There is more intention and thought behind post-COVID travels.

5 Must-Dos for Pandemic Era Travel

Even with the good, there are still things to keep in mind before jumping into your next travels. As you travel, keep these few must-dos in mind.

#1–Make a Plan

The key to success is a solid plan. And that truth holds for travel as well. As you begin planning for your next destination, make sure you have a plan in advance. And as you plan, make sure you research the COVID restrictions on the ground at your destination. 

Some areas and countries still have strict restrictions in place. You’ll want to know what to expect and what is open during your trip.

#2–Verify Vaccine Requirements

The research can’t end with what you want to do or see while on vacation. It’s vital that you research, understand, and abide by any and all vaccine requirements. 

If you are staying domestic in the U.S., there aren’t many vaccine requirements. If you are flying internationally, however, many countries require either a negative COVID test or vaccine documentation before entering the country. Make sure you are aware of those requirements and plan accordingly.

#3–Get Travel Insurance

COVID taught the world many, many valuable lessons. One of those lessons is the importance of purchasing travel insurance. When the pandemic started many people were unable to travel and lost tickets and/or money. 

Purchasing good travel insurance can save some of that heartache. Travel insurance, depending on the package and coverage, can save a lot of stress and worry in the event of some kind of unexpected crisis. There are other benefits as well – including rental car coverage.

As you plan for your next trip, look into travel insurance and be prepared for just about anything.

#4–Pack and repack

Once a destination is picked, vaccine requirements are understood, and travel insurance is purchased, it’s time to pack. Pandemic-era travel requires a few more travel necessities, so it’s important to add those to your suitcase.

Remember to pack facemasks. There are still some areas that require face coverings, and you don’t want to be caught unprepared. It’s also a good idea to add antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer. 

You’ll also need to ensure you pack all the necessary documentation. You’ll need a valid driver’s license, a valid passport for international travel, and possibly your vaccine documentation. Keep them safe but accessible for your travel days.

#5–Plan Your Trip to the Airport

Make sure you have a plan to get to the airport. If you are using public transportation or ride-sharing apps, make sure you have plenty of time and double-check bus schedules. You may also book in advance some reliable car services to enjoy the convenience and stress-free travel.  Staffing shortages aren’t specific to the air travel industry, and that can cause issues in getting to the airport.

With staffing shortages and other COVID concerns, it can take more time to navigate the security and onboarding process at the airport, so plan to leave with extra time – just in case.

Travel is back, and it’s not just for travel influencers. The world is returning to some pre-COVID activities, but they don’t look the same. Don’t let those things keep you from planning that next trip. Just be aware of how travel has changed in this pandemic era.

Laura Gunn writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, Traveling extensively pre- and post-pandemic, she is passionate about travelers knowing what to expect as the world recalibrates.