By Pradeep Chamaria 

In my previous feature, I talked about the consequences of deadly corona or Covid-19  pandemic. I prefer to call it the Traveller’s Pandemic and it has forced us to look at a blank canvass out there where everything is blank, just blank, and not even black and white.

Let’s look at this as a new beginning, and paint a colourful landscape on this canvas and devise new ways of looking at the travel industry and follow certain steps to improve the way we travel. It is a time when all of us, all those in the tourism industry, have to sit down and give serious thought and time for tourists too.

For many of us, travelling is like food for our soul and it changes our perception towards life; teaches things that are not mentioned in any book, teaches us how to live. For me, a traveller since my childhood, it means visiting far off and unexplored places to earn livelihoods and learn new things. You see, it’s a way of living for me and not a recreational activity.

So what next?

This is a million-dollar question for me. And I am sure it is the same for every tourist and a tourism house.

So what should a die-hard traveller do now?

It’s time now to get ready for the changes that are going to come in the travel sector. In the world post the COVID pandemic, I am sure we will be looking at the travel industry with a different mindset. There certainly will be more de-centralisation of services, improvement in the ways organizations offer services to tourists and better products.

And this will be a new beginning.

We, the travellers, also have to come forward and save our favourite industry. We have to be more vigilant and aware of the developments and be more prepared for the changes in both B2C and B2B sectors. Not only B2C, B2B styles also need to change and follow a similar course, maybe slightly different as they have to look from a commercial angle too.

It’s the same, for us, the travellers and B2B organizations – unless we prepare now, everything we’ve worked for all our lives could be lost forever.

Travelling changes our perception towards life, and teaches things that are not mentioned in any book. For me, a traveller since my childhood, it means visiting far off and unexplored places to earn livelihoods and learn new things. You see, it’s a way of living for me and not a recreational activity.

It doesn’t matter how much I have travelled, I always find shortcomings in my journeys which I try to rectify in my following trips. And just a little travel research helps me in adding depth to my next travel experience. So that’s what I am going to suggest a list which surely can help you once travel re-starts and also help a luxury/business tourist to turn into a traveller.

The documentation part – We should aim to make a file folder which contains Photo ID cards, travel & medical insurance papers, driving license, inner line permits etc. Passports, E-visa printouts, and currency of the place you are going to travel – all these are also important- but these can be kept in a locker for the next six months, minimum.

A personal tip: Always make extra copies of necessary documents, and also keep a digital copy.

Planning the trip:

When I am planning a trip I normally have a lot of questions. I am sure you also often face questions like what will the climate be like? What kind of clothing is appropriate to wear? Will people speak Hindi/English or will I be able to express myself? What will the food be like? What is public transport like? How much will things cost? What local customs should I be aware of? How difficult will it be to meet people and make friends?

Well, the answers are all available there; we just have to do a little research at proper places.

One of the most important sources that a tourist overlooks these days is the Tourism board offices which are best to get information on attractions of interest, as well as off-beat spots along with information on local current events, places to get local food etc. The information promoted by tourist offices is researched, gathered, and published by people who live and work in the areas they represent.

The brochures provided by a B2B/commercial travel operator normally give you an idea of the locations that a normal tourist will go, touch, click a few pictures and come back. This needs to change now.

So, while you are locked-down, search online and make a collection of maps, guides, and travel brochures etc. along with other important facts like a basic idea about the place you are going to visit e.g. alcohol consumption and unique legal restraints like clothing in religious places (like in South India – every male must wear a Dhoti and not trousers etc.).

You can also keep checking the climatic patterns of the destination during the period you are travelling.

Read Local News Sources

Set your Smartphone homepage to the local newspaper of the destination and read a few headlines each week to keep a tag for what’s happening and how people are reacting.

Guide Books

Get a few guide books and consult them. Classic guide books like Lonely Planet or Rough Guides tell you a lot about every destination. These guides usually have sections on the history and culture of the place, as well as safety tips, suggestions on what to do, information about local holidays, reviews of hotels and restaurants and much more.

Talk to People

Start talking about your upcoming travel in your office, in public transport, with friends at parties, school, college, and at a friend’s get-together. There surely is a chance that someone who has been to the destination comes up to help. Whether it is your cousin, your neighbour or a friend of a friend, or your friend’s aunt, they will all be very helpful to give suggestions. Firsthand experience is quite valuable when you want to research a travel destination before you go.

Try to learn basic phrases in the local language of your destination

While at home, learn a few words that are local to the areas you are going to visit soon. It’s much easier to communicate even if you know phrases to greet locals and will help you out. Just a few things like “Hello,” “Goodbye,” “Thank you!”, “Where’s the bathroom?” will go a long way to endearing yourself with the locals.

Good Quality Blogs by Travel Bloggers Providing First-Hand Info  

There are so many travel blogs today which are first-hand perspectives on the destination. And quality travel blogs are a great way to research a travel destination before you actually go. Also if you want further information, you can always contact the Bloggers on their contacts provided.

Videos on Youtube

Just like blogging, Vlogging is quite popular today and give you a better insight about the destination which is sometimes not expressed vividly via the written blogs. You can see what the landscapes look like, listen to what the accents sound like and actually see footage of the attractions that you might want to visit on your trip.

Forums

Forums are a great source of information like a blog, and you should check them out and ask questions about a travel destination. A lot of passionate travellers post their views here and also about the B2B organizations at the destination.

TripAdvisor and similar travel websites are another great way to research; it’s not the only destination, but it’s also for reviews of hotels, travel operators, restaurants, and local attractions.

TripAdvisor is a great tool for B2B operators too. A mention in TripAdvisor means your setup is recognised as you will find an honest picture of what exactly you are, written by people who have actually experienced your services.

The Staff of Your Hotel

Make this an important pointer in your travel diary. Hotel staff deals with travellers all day, every day. They know exactly where to go for authentic meals and attractions. They also tend to be locals so they know the city very well. Ask them for all sorts of information.

Look Up Hashtags

Today who is not on one or more social media platforms? They are a great source of travel information and inspiration. All posts are hash-tagged here and you can search for hashtags related to your travel destination for articles, blogs about the destination as well as local news and media, and gorgeous images that will fuel your visual travel inspiration of what to do while you are there.

Search for Less Expensive Ways to Travel

You can take the liberty right now, to plan and book your trains/flights and that too cheap. Your travel is not going to be right away, and you very well know that if you book in advance you get better options and can save a lot of money.

Plan for Using Public Transportation

I always prefer public transportation like buses, tempos, etc. when travelling. For me, it’s the best way to get a feel for the full scope of a city. Buses help me move at my speed and understand the locality.

Plan to Enjoy the Nightlife

Even if you were 17 years old some 40 years ago, whether or not you’re a night owl, there’s always different energy in the atmosphere once the sunsets. The flavours differ from place to place, the nightlife usually consists of live music in bars; huge, pulsing clubs; or candlelit cafés with plenty of wine to go around.

So, even if you are dead tired, plan to dive into whatever fun awaits, this certainly will infuse energy in you to be fresher the next morning.

Check Out for Free Walking Tours

Besides being great money-savers, these tours allow you to orient yourself in an unfamiliar city, scope out some good photography locations to return to later, learn facts about the city, and maybe make some new friends too.

I always look for and love, love, love taking these walking tours when I travel. You pass the time, and all your questions normally get answered by the guide, and you get to learn so much about where you are.

Eat Local Food

When in Rome, do as the Romans do; that’s a common proverb used in the travel industry. Yes, for me that’s a must, I love to taste a bit of everything local when I travel, even if I don’t know what it is (for me it has to be vegetarian though). You see, nothing is more tasteful than enjoying the authentic food of the location you are travelling to, so plan to eat street food from vendors and for this, you can plan to visit local markets or places with gatherings. Again eating street food is an awesome way to save money while you travel.

Plan to Get on the off Beaten Path

It’s not a touristy thing, but for a  traveller in you, it’s a must. Do some research and seek out interesting and unusual places that don’t see much tourism. I have always loved doing that and many memorable travel experiences have happened in the past. As a traveller, you don’t want to regret missing them.

For B2B – this means offering many more options to a prospective client and obviously more business.

And for the photographer, Always pack an Extra Camera Battery

Do worry, the Travellers Pandemic is going to be devastating.

But that will not the end of the world; so take a deep breath, relax, enjoy and let life unfold.

It’s a big, beautiful, exciting, and fascinating world out there but you have to be safe to explore it, BUT not just now.

STAY SAFE, do your homework and be a Traveller – a few months later.

About author

TnH Global
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