The past year has seen us through a ton of heartbreak — and in more ways than we can count. Loved ones were lost, forms of livelihood were taken away, and relationships were forced to go the distance. As for those with a great passion for trotting the globe? Travel plans were indefinitely postponed, too; and instead of providing us with a sense of comfort, being stuck at home has, ironically, left us feeling nothing but homesick.
Needless to say, the pandemic has left many of us itching for a change of scenery. And so when borders started opening up, a significant number of people leaped at the chance to travel. The problem is, travelling in 2021 — and during the pandemic overall — comes with added responsibilities that some still fail to take into account.
But here’s the thing: the more we fail to take responsibility as travellers, the longer we won’t be able to travel the way we used to. That’s the last thing any of us travellers could ever want, if you ask me. To start the year off right, here’s a list of things I am not doing when travelling in 2021. May this help open your eyes and guide you on your travels (if any!) this year.
Also read: 9 Resolutions Every Traveller Should Keep
10 Things I am NOT going to do when travelling in 2021
1. Falsify COVID-19 test results and other medical documents
There’s been much talk about people who have gone out of their way to acquire fake COVID-19 test results just for the sake of travelling. The number one thing we have to take into consideration when travelling in 2021? No matter how “well” or “normal” you may feel, there’s always the possibility that you’re asymptomatic. And if you are, this doesn’t give you the freedom to waltz around town like there’s no tomorrow. All the more, you should take better care not to spread this invisible yet potentially deadly virus.
The same applies to those who seek falsified medical certificates and other related documents, too.
2. Encourage others to travel without getting tested
If you frequently engage in a lot of travel groups on Facebook, then you’re no stranger to those who actively seek out travel destinations that don’t require you to test for COVID-19. There are also those who plan group vacations to private accommodations in order to skip the need to get tested. And while that’s a personal choice made by all the parties involved, a case of the blame game will be pretty inevitable should anyone have unknowingly spread the virus within the group. Test before travelling in 2021, people!
3. Pressure my unready friends into travelling with me
I’ll be real: I am that unready friend. COVID-19 is out there, and I am aware that I’m not immune to it. I’m aware that I could spread the virus to the people I love, especially those who are high-risk. I have friends who live with family members with comorbidities, with grandparents who are impatiently waiting for this pandemic to end so they can freely enjoy their time with loved ones. I’d rather put off unnecessary travels than put my loved ones at risk.
As someone who feels this, I feel quite disappointed (and to be honest, disrespected) when people say, “Wala yan.” Or, “Wow, you really don’t go out? Ibang klaseng paranoid yan.” This being said, in the event that I do find myself travelling in 2021, I will definitely not be pressuring any of my unready friends to tag along with me. I’ve been on the other side of this situation, and let me tell you — it’s upsetting to be shamed for taking extra care, and even more discouraging when my own friends don’t respect that.
4. Lie about my travel history
When it comes to travelling in 2021, honesty is key. Practically every establishment requires you to fill up a health declaration form, and this is extra important when you’re filling one up before travelling. Falsely declaring that you haven’t travelled anywhere else will only make things harder to trace if you unknowingly spread the virus.
You may feel that it’s your right to travel, especially after being trapped at home for so many months; but this doesn’t mean you can do so carelessly. In the face of a pandemic, every wrong step you take has the possibility of creating a ripple effect. Be smart — and be honest!
5. Deface tourist spots
It’s truly heartbreaking to hear about people who claim they love to travel, but seem not to think twice before vandalising tourist spots. Take last year’s incident at Baguio’s Bamboo Eco Park, for example. Not even a year after opening to the public, the tourist site was forced to close temporarily after visitors engraved their names on the bamboo and urinated along the pathways.
When travelling in 2021, I resolve to respect not just my fellow travellers, but the places I visit, too. I hope you do the same, so we can continue to travel for more years to come!
6. Litter and expect others to clean up after me
While we’re on the topic of defacing tourist spots… How hard is it to clean after ourselves? Not difficult at all, actually! From childhood, I learned the concept of CLAYGO — clean as you go. It’s quite commonplace for people to think they can just leave their garbage behind “because there are people who get paid to do so”; and I think that’s just downright rude.
Now more than ever, it’s important for us to pick up after ourselves. So, if any of us end up travelling in 2021, let’s make it a point not to leave our trash lying around — most of all, used face masks and discarded tissues!
7. Travel without all the pandemic essentials
Remember how in grade school, we always had that one classmate who always came unprepared? The one who would always beg for an extra pen, piece of paper, food, or even spare change? If you already found that annoying, imagine having a travel buddy who doesn’t pack their own face masks, alcohol, and other pandemic essentials. That kind of person shouldn’t be travelling at all!
8. Disregard safety protocols
When travelling during a pandemic, adhering to safety protocols is key. I’ve witnessed some people disregard these just because they felt they were above following rules and regulations, and I honestly felt very uncomfortable. (Long story short, I went to a popular restaurant and was welcomed by someone not wearing a mask or a face shield — no social distancing, either. He and his family were freely walking around the restaurant like this for quite some time, too!)
During a time like this, it’s important to respect people’s boundaries and personal space! You may feel confident that you’re in tip top health, but this doesn’t disqualify you from having to follow protocols. Not only that, by doing so, there’s also a great possibility you’re ruining someone else’s travel experience. We’ve all been longing to travel, so let’s try and make it possible for everyone to have a good time!
9. Leave my home after getting a COVID-19 test prior to travel
One of the major requirements for travelling during the pandemic is getting tested for COVID-19 no less than 48 hours before a trip. This means you have a little extra free time before travelling. Here’s a no-no: proceeding to go out and even schedule hangouts with friends after getting tested. Your results may come out negative, but they could possibly no longer be valid after your interactions. So, the next time you test before travel: stay home until the day of your trip!
10. Pressure my travel buddies to remove their face masks
Here’s one of my greatest pet peeves: people telling me to remove my mask at group gatherings. They even make me feel like I’m offending them by keeping mine on! Instead, they ask, “What, do you think we’re dirty?”
Honestly, people who try to take the “safe” out of “safe travels” can really ruin all the fun. That said, I will definitely not be that travel buddy who forces a friend to go against protocols during the pandemic.
Do you have any plans of travelling in 2021? If so, I hope this list of travel resolutions helps you become a better traveller this year. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry — so let’s all do our part. Then hopefully, we’ll be able to travel “normally” again soon. Take good care!