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Planning Travel In COVID Normal 

As the year kicks off, its human nature to start thinking about the things you would like to achieve.  For many of us, that might be a little bit of travel! After living through a year which saw huge restrictions around travel throughout Australia and the world, many of us are keen to hit the road. Though after experiencing the disappointment of so many cancelled trips in 2020, there is likely to be some hesitation or second thought when planning in 2021.

While making plans may seem like a risky undertaking, (because just in case you have forgotten, we are still living through a pandemic!) it is actually really important for our mental health to give ourselves things to look forward to. For people with health concerns, a little extra planning always plays a part when organizing travel.  

To give you some confidence in planning and steer clear of feelings of disappointment we have curated some physical and mental health strategies for planning travel in 2021.

What is COVID Normal? 

The term “COVID Normal” has been used by government representatives and the media alike, however the exact meaning of this tends to have some inconsistencies across Australia.

In Victoria, COVID Normal is described as a time when “there are no new cases for 28 days, no active cases and “no outbreaks of concern” in other states and territories.” This circumstance should allow for a state where there are “No restrictions for gatherings, visitors, hospitality or sport.”

However, as we have recently seen throughout Australia these conditions can change rapidly. The easing of restrictions has not always gone to plan, and they have at times been quickly reinstated.

While it doesn’t sound like the best circumstance in which to be planning travel – or anything much for that matter, there are still ways to make things a little less stressful for yourself.

What Does Travel Look Like in The New Normal? 

Just because things are a little different to what we might be used to, it doesn’t make travel impossible – though currently in Australia it does limit our options to domestic travel. You’ll certainly need to take some extra precaution, plan a little differently and add in a bit more time for research.

Traveling can present a sense of uncertainty at the best of times. Throw a pandemic into the mix and you can really feel like you’re traveling without a map! If you do choose to plan a trip in the next year or so, mental preparation is just as important as making sure you’ve packed clean underwear!  

How Can You Prepare For Uncertainty? 

Uncertainty is a normal part of everyday life, but we don’t often take time to consider that. Life can throw us a curve ball at any time but changes brought about by the pandemic have only just brought that into clearer focus for many of us.

When you’re traveling, uncertainly should already be on your radar – a cancelled flight, a flat tyre or a long walk in the wrong direction can cause emotions to spiral out of control if you’re not mentally prepared. Having a set of coping mechanisms in your mental tool kit is essential, even outside of a pandemic. Knowing where to start when building this tool kit can seem overwhelming so we have curated a few resources:  

Help Guide suggest focusing on the things that you can control as a key strategy to cope with uncertainty. They have curated plenty of advice that is easily transferable to a travel scenario during COVID-19. If feelings of anxiety begin to emerge for you when traveling, organisations like The Black Dog institute can provide specialist advice, with a range of resources including apps that can help to manage symptoms of anxiety.

People living with a disability in Victoria may also be eligible to access our specialist psychology and counseling services. Regardless of your situation or location, reaching out for help when you are experiencing feelings of anxiety can be a great way of handling things at the time and gaining mental resilience to face future challenges.

You Might Need To Pack Extra Items 

Over the past year or so we have gotten used to grabbing a few extra items as we leave the house. Sanitisers, disposable masks and even gloves have become commonplace inclusions in our homes, cars and handbags. While these items tend to be available across the country, pre-purchasing for travel is probably a good idea – as we can all remember the panic buying that happened quickly and unexpectedly last year.

Similarly, for those who have specific medical needs, planning and pre-purchasing your essential supplies when traveling is advised. We’ve created guides to suits specific needs including a guide on air travel with medication, one for general travel medication advice and another for those traveling with incontinence.   

In 2021 it will be more than just the usual grey nomads hitting the roads around Australia. If you’re hitting the wide-open road, as so many of us will be this year, traveling with a comprehensive first aid kit in the car (and keeping it stocked up with in date items) is a good idea. You can build your own first aid kit, ensuring that you have items to meet your specific needs, many of which can be purchased online.

In Summary…

Traveling in 2021 will be a bit different but getting out there and experiencing new places is not only good for our minds but also the economy! Be prepared for (almost) anything – both mentally and in your packing and be ready to accept that your plans may need to change – but know that you can handle it!  After all, considering the year we’ve had, we should be ready to rise to the challenge now!

Information regarding COVID restrictions sourced from the DHHS: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions-roadmaps

Looking for more travel health advice? 

Check out our wide range of health articles, support resources and information.

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