Traveling during Corona

travel during corona

Is it ok to travel during the pandemia? AND what’s difference?

Is it ok to travel during Corona? What’s the deal now, and how will it be in the future?

Well, I can’t really tell you. While everyone seems to be an expert, no one actually knows anything! Giving advice is a bit of a joke! All I can do is share my point of view and the experiences I made. Hopefully, this can help you to plan your next surf trip and decide when, where or IF you go.

Is it ok to travel during corona/ covid 19?

In my opinion, no one really knows what’s going on. Luckily for most of us, the decisions we make are mainly affecting us and not a whole country. So I guess it’s the same as it always was… Try to listen to yourself and decide what feel right for YOU!

Listening to all the “experts” tells you only, that everyone has a different idea. BUT what we know for sure is, that those businesses that need people to be there physically are having a difficult time.

Many places depend on tourism and they want us to come back. (Same goes for the restaurant in your street).

I’m in the lucky situation to know people from many different parts of the world, and I’ve been talking to them about how life is now where they live. Surprisingly, most people told me the same… They said, that things are slow and quiet (especially in tourism and entertainment ), but that other than this, everything is relatively normal. I went to Lucerne in Switzerland, and for the first time in my life, I could see the Löwendenkmal without 9 rows of Asian and Indian tourists standing in front of me! Nice for me, bad for the countless shops that sell souvenirs and depend on them! I’ve heard the same for Venice in Italy, Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka and many other places. 

Different countries have different measurements for hygiene and safety, and that’s probably one of the two biggest differences from one place to another. The second one would be, how good the health system (hospitals etc.) is. If you get really sick and need help in Switzerland, you’re probably in better hands than in some remote corner of Indonesia.

Kanan told me that Arugam Bay had a fantastic season (2020) and almost no tourists. The ones who decided to stay have more waves than they can wish for, move around freely, and enjoy a surf season with no crowds. Same in Indonesia with relatively empty breaks in Bali and the Mentawais like they haven’t been in 30 years!

travel during corona cokes maldives ©thefreesurfer.com
Perfect empty waves during corona

We don’t know what the future holds, but we know that we should make our own decisions and live with the consequences. And I found it reasonable to travel again. I don’t travel to go partying and spend very littel time inside with other people anyways. The biggest parts of my days are in the ocean, somewhere else open air, or reading/ writing in my hotel room or hammock. I think I’m a bigger risk while at home. You can judge me for this if you like! That is your personal decision. But what I felt and heard from everyone who has been traveling over the last months is, that the local people were very happy and welcoming towards visitors.

And of course, the selfish reason to surf waves with much less people than usual made me want to go even more!

So I say:

YES, IT IS OK TO TRAVEL!

But as always, you have to decide for your self.

How do you book a surf trip now?

Banana Point, Taghazout, Morocco ©thefreesurfer.com
Cheap flight+ affordable accommodation+ Restaurants/ Bars + easy waves = this

I knew I want to go somewhere with good waves, if possible warm water, and not too many people. Exactly the same as everyone else wants. And to be honest, the game is still the same! Only the rules have changed.

If you want to score uncrowded waves, you have to go at least one step further than everyone else.

This can be to walk to the next sand bank when you’re in France, to the next island in Indonesia, or to some difficult to reach place somewhere all over the world. The easy to reach places with all conveniences plus good waves, are always crowded.

But this time, finding such a place and getting there has changed. I had many possible place in mind, where I could go during corona. Here are a few.

Senegal is said to be open and welcomes tourists.

El Salvador is open. It’s relatively empty compare to other years and life feels normal here. Restaurants and bars are open, people go out and party like before. Of course, you have to wear a mask in many places, but other than this, things are pretty normal. For sure a good option as a place to travel during Corona.

Sri Lanka is officially open for tourists again. It has some restrictions, and it’s one of the countries that already ask for prove of vaccinations.

Mexico had its border never really closed. In 2020 it was kind of difficult to know what’s going on, and where you can really go. By now, things are much easier. The waves in the Oaxaca area are said to be crowded, and so are the bars at night in Puerto Escondido! But if you get away from the famous places, or if you go a few states further north, you’ll find waves with relatively few people. I’ve been there in April 2021, and except for one pointbreak, all the waves were somewhere between empty and a few people in the water.

As I just said: It’s a bit of a guessing game. Regulations can change any time, and openings of regions, whole countries or airports can change by tomorrow. This makes it incredibly difficult and such a headache to plan a trip. But then again, Since we’ve got the internet (and later smartphones), planing a trip always left so little uncertainties, difficulties and room for surprises … maybe this gives back a bit of the travel excitement from former times?!

What did I do?

Telo Islands Indonesia ©thefreesurfer.com
Going the extra step and surfing waves with only your friends… Best thing in the world!

I spoke with many different people in different places, spend countless hours checking official homepages, and tried to figure out where to go. Always keeping in mind, that most people give up at some point and go surfing with their car. This means fewer people in more complicated to reach places, and I kept trying. Where could I travel during corona?

After some time, I gave up on one destination after the other! Portugal as well as the Maldives moved up on the list, and my destinations for the summer of 2020 were decided. Everything you need to know about going on a surftrip to the Maldives is in the article.

The whole time before the trip was stressful and made it so difficult to be excited in a positive way. Every email could be another cancellation! 

I had to change a couple of flights, rearrange my booking, and had other flights and rental cars for later in Portugal canceled as well. And during the trip the same game! Flights canceled, time on the phone, stress… Trying to call the airlines is nearly impossible. TAP Portugal let me hang in the line for 45 minutes before I gave up and changed my flight right at the airport. That was in August 2020.

So booking a trip is definitely more difficult than usual. You always need a plan B up your sleeve. But as a lot of the places are desperat for tourists to come, many offer really fair deals, like a 100% money back guarantee.

In the end, I decided to treat myself nice and spend two weeks on a surfboat. At the moment, there are not too many boats in the Maldives who can have guests. And this guarantees fewer people in the water than in other years.

A few months later, I decided to go to the Caribbean for another trip. Many countries here opened their borders to tourists already a while ago. So it was about where I have the least restrictions and the best flights. In the end, it was the Dominican Republic, and it was a great decision!

How is to travel during Corona?

travel during corona ©thefreesurfer.com
Darth Vader?

It’s a headache! Literally! They canceled my flight less than a week before departure and I couldn’t change it online. As it was weekend, no one in my country would picking up the phone until Monday and I really couldn’t wait that long. So I sat there, in the middle of Friday night, calling the 24/7 office in Qatar, and managed to have my flight moved one day ahead. But this meant to make all the other arrangements too. Work, friends and family, apartment, booking for the boat… After all this was done, I went to the airport even earlier than usual and was surprised at the check in! Almost no one was on the flight, or in the airport. That was not that much of a surprise, but they asked me for a health check up I didn’t know about! 

Freaking out is never helpful in these situations. But to be honest… I got a little afraid they send me home again. And as the flight the next day was already canceled, it would have been at least two more days of waiting… with someone already in my sublet flat! The health check-up they wanted was easily done online. After a few minutes, I got the feedback and allowance to fly. My boat was on the accredited list too, and with less than 30 passengers on the plane, check-in was quick.

As my boards disappear on the over-size luggage band, I felt relieved in a to me unknown way!

I really haven’t slept too well the nights before and it was more stressful than my first time traveling alone 15 years ago. But everything looked finally good.

They gave us a face shield to wear from departure until arriving at our destination, and of course, a face mask to wear at all times too. This is different from destination to destination and difficult to find out what it’s going to be. As much as I like the happy-go-lucky approach of a trip, if you want to travel during corona, being organized and know before you go is how it should be done. And go to the airport earlier than usual… Just in case!

Going on a trip right now feels as good as always! Sure, some things are more complicated, but leaving all that crap behind for a while, not reading or listening to the news, but actually listening to live music is great! However, you can’t just leave everything behind. You still need to stay up to date. While I was in Portugal, they changed the quarantine list in my country, and I had to make sure to be back within two days. This sucks and is expensive! But in my eyes, it’s absolutely worth it! The same happened to me again in Mexico! And yes, the PCR tests are expensive and really uncomfortable…Would I do it again? no doubt!

How will it be in the future? And where to find advice?

Picture: Michael Dyrland

It’s really difficult to say. Some of the countries I thought would open soon, are postponing it. But others opened within a few months and life feels relatively normal.

If you want to go to the Caribbean, your chances aren’t bad as an example. Most countries there and in Central America are already open. Of course with restrictions. I went to the Dominican Republic in January 2021 and loved it!

Most of Europe is open too. Why not a trip to the Wave in Bristol? The only catch is the quarantine some countries have on entering or returning. As I said before, the best thing you can do is, to check the official pages and spend a couple of nights in front of your computer as I did.

A really helpful tool: Luex Surf Trips infos

Check the page of Luex Surf Trips. You can choose your country, and the page gives you details about the restrictions and necessary tests for a good number of possible surf destinations to travel during Corona.

It’s also worth thinking about booking through an agency or buying a more expensive fight ticket which is changeable for no cost. You never know what will be decided tomorrow. I had more flights canceled and had to change dates and destinations in the last 12 months, than in my whole life before Corona!

If you decide to go to a place that is easy to get to, with few restrictions and good waves, you will share them with probably more people than ever before. Portugal and the Canaries were and are busy like in peak season. But if you go the extra step, you’ve got the chance of scoring some of the best waves of your life with fewer people in the water than during the last few decades… it’s all up to you if you’re traveling during corona, or wait it out?!

Vaccinations?

Many countries and people put a lot of hope into vaccinations. More and more countries let you only enter if you had your shot(s) and can prove it! Sure, it is already the same with some countries and vaccinations they want to see proof to let you enter. (Yellow fever etc…). But if you’re for or against vaccinations is a whole different story!

We will have to wait and see how it plays out. But if we want to travel, it the covid vaccination will be part of it…

Fuerteventura. Always crowded, but always worth a trip

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