How do you know when it’s safe to travel again? (Part 4)

By Randy Keck
This item appears on page 24 of the February 2022 issue.

In this issue, I’ll share the experience of another adventurer who chose to travel during these uncertain COVID times plus, for those contemplating getting back on the road, a strategy or approach to consider.

Egypt adventure

Another fall 2021 traveler I interviewed was Lynne Giuliano of St. Petersburg, Florida, who traveled to Egypt with Overseas Adventure Travel, or OAT (Boston, MA; 800/955-1925,, Sept. 9-28, her trip including a 5-day post-tour extension to Alexandria. There were 18 members in the main tour and 12 in the post-tour.

Lynne had researched the destination and was confident with OAT’s pre-trip planning and advisories.

On the tours, group members always wore masks indoors except when eating. On a sparsely populated 85-passenger riverboat on the Nile, they often did not wear masks on deck. Lynne felt the ship was quite hygienic. On land, each group had a private coach, and their guides and drivers all were vaccinated.

Lynne flew from Istanbul, Turkey, to Cairo, Egypt, on Turkish Airlines and told me, “Never again.” On board, flight attendants did not enforce the airline’s mask policy, and many passengers did not wear masks.

In Egypt, prior to returning by air to the US, OAT arranged for the necessary COVID tests at $80 each.

Lynne’s advice to others considering traveling during COVID is “Feel free to travel, but be smart, research destinations on your own, and only travel with a company you feel really confident about.”

COVID travel for couples

We continue to navigate on a daily basis both the knowns and the unknowns regarding the pandemic, which, as of this writing, understandably could be described as the new normal.

The decision to travel now or to continue to defer travel is often more complex for couples or other duos who typically travel together than it is for solos. The physical and mental conditions and risk tolerance of both individuals must be considered and align in decision making.

This can pose a real challenge. If one party wants to travel now and the other does not, the following is a possible option: if both parties are agreeable, the one who wants to travel now can do so solo or with a different travel partner, ideally as part of a travel group.

My personal COVID-times comment for couples who are only prepared to travel together is to communicate clearly and openly, sans innuendo, and if there remains an impasse, then err on the side of caution.

The flip to short-term planning

From a lot of past experience both organizing and leading travel groups composed primarily of seniors who are frequent international travelers, I have noticed one constant: the majority of them tend to plan multiple trips ahead for a multiyear period.

This was still happening in the early stages of the pandemic, when most frequent travelers could not imagine the outbreak continuing as long as it has. As a result, many of them have a backlog of trips on hold in growing personal bucket lists. For them, it may be time for a change from longer-term planning to short-term.

My crystal ball indicates that, with COVID variables remaining mostly unpredictable, windows of possible travel opportunity may continue to open and close frequently. Among travel considerations are keeping up to date with possible schedule and itinerary changes prior to departure as well as with COVID entry and reentry requirements.

Also to be monitored are the most current COVID conditions at your intended destinations. Good travel providers will likely be privy to this information, but it is a good idea to also check on your own.

The change of travel mind-set from longer to very short-term planning can be a positive choice. A primary consideration is traveling with a company that has very flexible cancellation options, without penalties.

If you are arranging your own air, the same considerations apply. This requires reading the fine print and asking any and all questions about trip-cancellation and/or trip-deferment options. A personal fiat is there is no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to considering travel during COVID.

Decades ago I adopted a life rule: flexibility is the key to relevance. This life rule, in my opinion, always applies to the experience of travel. However, in terms of maintaining day-to-day sanity generally as well as when planning travel, never has it been more important than right now.

A growing number of addicted travelers have already adopted a short-term-planning approach to travel during COVID. The idea of being able to travel on short notice can be stimulating and exciting, with bags packed both mentally and literally.

Additionally, this level of preparedness can sometimes make it possible to take advantage of last-minute specials offered by airlines and other travel operators anxious to fill seats as departure dates approach.

A shift to short-term travel planning is highly recommended food for thought for would-be travelers currently waiting in the wings.