We’ve been cooped up inside for months just itching to travel as soon as it is safe. Though some destinations have begun to open up to tourism, it will be some time until we can travel as freely as we once did. But don’t fret, even though you may feel like you are in traveler limbo, research has shown that just planning and anticipating a future trip can significantly boost your happiness levels.
To help you be as ready to set sail as soon as the coast is clear, we’ve compiled a list of to-do’s that you can complete now to make it easier for you to travel after the COVID-19 pandemic:
Check your passport expiration date.
Passports expiration dates have a tendency to creep up on you, especially if you haven’t used it in a while. Depending on the destination you’d like to visit, you may need to have up to 6 – 9 months left before your expiration date in order to enter the country. For example, my friends and I had planned a trip to Peru for this coming July but due to the pandemic, we have rescheduled our trip for July of 2021. Peru is a country that requires a passport that is valid for at least six months. Two of my fellow travelers would have been fine to enter the country if we had kept our original plans but now that we are bumping it to next year, they will need to renew their passports ahead of time.
Sign up for a travel rewards credit card.
Even though you may not want to cash in the rewards for travel-related purchases quite yet, signing up for a travel rewards credit card now will help you start racking up points or miles to use in the future. A good number of credit card rewards programs give you extra bonus points for shopping at restaurants or even grocery stores – places we are all still buying from even if we are still social distancing.
Not sure where to start? Check out this handy resource Money.com put together for the Best Travel Credit Cards of 2020.
Apply for Global Entry or Clear Programs
What better time to fill out the Global Entry or Clear program application form than when you are stuck at home? The process was already fairly slow and it may be even slower now given the reduction in the amount of staff going through the applications. If you start the process now, the more likely you’ll be in a good spot for when the borders begin to open up.
Take inventory of your travel gear.
The time to find out that your favorite piece of luggage’s zipper is broken is not when you are ready to start packing for your next trip. Now is the time to go through your travel accessories to assess for wear and tear, give them a good cleaning, if needed, and even purchase new items if you are looking to upgrade or add to your luggage. If you don’t use them already, I’d highly recommend adding some packing cubes to your gear as they keep everything organized within your suitcase.
Research vaccinations needed for the destinations you’d like to visit.
Looking to travel outside of the U.S.? Make sure you know what medical requirements need to be met to enter ahead of time. For example, if you’re heading to South Africa, you’ll need to have Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Typhoid vaccinations, along with the other routine vaccinations you most likely already have such as TDAP (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis). By looking up the requirements ahead of time, you can find out the most cost-effective way of getting them such as through your doctor’s office, pharmacy, or travel health center.
Confirm when your airline miles and hotel credits will expire.
A good number of hotel and airline reward programs have extended their expiration dates to help travelers out but don’t just assume that it will happen. Check your specific rewards program rules and if you aren’t sure, give their customer support line a call to confirm what your options are.