Photo credit: Sam Thomas/iStock by Getty
It goes without saying that travel has changed significantly all over the world in the last three years due to the pandemic.
From 2019 to early 2021, travel was almost non-existent, but as time went on and more people got vaccinated, travel started to surge once more (though not anywhere close to pre-pandemic days), and there was light at the end of the tunnel.
By the summer of 2021, more and more people had started taking socially distanced vacations and by the beginning of 2022 unit early fall, people had learned to travel with the pandemic with almost no restrictions. Public gatherings were back, full occupancy in hotels and airplanes, and for a while, everything seemed to be going well.
However, at the end of 2022, the covid numbers around the world started increasing again and governments started discussing restrictions on travel and how they tend to cope in 2023.
So if you are planning to travel abroad anytime soon or are just getting out of your house for a day trip, whether for leisure, work, or to meet with your family, travel in 2023 and beyond is still different than it used to be and a lot of planning is required!
That's why I have put together this article to help you make an informed decision and get updated information before you embark on your travel adventures this year.
Travel in 2023 and Beyond
Since the summer of 2020, we have traveled on day trips, road trips, and on a plane. And, one thing became clear – travel in 2023 and beyond requires an added layer of advanced planning and extra steps. It is very different than it used to be with added steps.
If you are planning to venture out to travel in 2023, there are many questions you may want to ask and plan for in advance.
Questions You May Want To Ask For Travel In 2023 (and beyond):
Disclaimer: If you are thinking of traveling on a plane, road trip, day trip, or even heading out locally, this post ONLY gives ideas for what questions you MAY want to ask and represents what WE DID. It in no way replaces any official recommendations of any government official or health experts. Refer to the experts for official advice. This is not advice or recommendations of any kind. Nor does it promote or encourage anyone to travel. It solely represents our experience and what questions we asked and the research we did for our family.
This post may also include affiliate links which means I receive a small commission at no cost to you should you make a purchase using this link. See my disclaimer for more information.
Travel in 2023: What Are Travel Operators Doing Differently?
Not long ago, I attended a travel conference online. According to the travel industry speakers, some trends are emerging on both the operators' side and the travelers' side to promote safer travel practices:
Travel Operators (Hotels, Planes, Rental Cars, Etc.)
To know how these travel operators are coping with travel in 2023, here are some of the frequently asked questions with upto date answers.
Do I Have to Wear a Mask on a Plane in 2023?
While wearing a mask is no longer a legal requirement, some airlines still encourage their passengers to keep their face masks on. But even without that encouragement, you'll find some passengers wearing theirs, especially those in the high-risk category.
Do I Need to Present a Negative Covid Test or Covid Vaccine Certificate at a Point of Entry?
Showing a negative covid test and a covid vaccine certificate had become mandatory at most border controls in the past two or so years.
While some still require this, some had stopped asking for them. However, from the end of 2022 to early 2023, some borders have reinstated this, so you may need to show a negative covid test before entering their territory.
Depending on where you're flying to and where you're flying from, you may or may not need to present a negative covid test. The same thing applies to showing a covid vaccine certificate. So, before you travel, check the destination you're visiting for region-specific requirements.
Here is how most hotels are dealing with travel in 2023.
- Touchless systems for check-in/check-out and payment are still highly used.
- Most hotels are back to full occupancy.
- Proper cleaning/sanitizing is still on at some hotels though not as much as in the last 2 years.
- Servicing rooms for housekeeping during a guest's stay are back.
- Leaving any requested items (extra towels/sheets) at the door outside the room was the norm but now things are getting back to face-to-face interactions.
- Plastic partitions at the front desk are no longer a thing in most hotels in 2023.
In the past two years, renting individual cars and campervans has been so popular, and the trend doesn't seem to be stopping any time soon.
Those who had never traveled in an RV gave it a chance to be able to travel in a socially distance way, but even with no more social distancing, the trend is still thriving due to its ease of travel.
But with that increase in demand comes the high prices for car rentals.
Travel in 2023: What Are Travelers Doing Differently?
- Staying in secluded cabins or vacation homes and camping saw a massive surge in the previous years and it continues to be at the forefront of travelers. However, more and more people are getting comfortable traveling the way they used to pre-pandemic.
- Compared to the past few years which were mostly about road trips and minimal use of planes, more and more travelers are traveling by plane.
- Instead of staying at home, most people are opting to travel again.
- Most people still carry their own hand sanitizer, though the number using them has reduced tremendously.
Is there Still Social Distancing in Airports or on Planes in 2023?
When our family flew first thing in the morning in 2021, the airport was practically empty. Our check-in line was socially distanced, with stickers on the floor to show where to stand. Very few people were in line at check-in and security.
Fast forward to 2022 through 2023, there is basically no social distancing. In some airports, the social distancing stickers will still be visible on the floor while in others, they'll be completely gone.
The same goes for planes. As long as the seats have been booked, they will be occupied without leaving the middle seat empty.
But as with everything Covid-related, (since covid numbers are creeping up in early 2023) it's important to find out from the airline what their practices are. You should also note any requirements of both your departing and arriving airports, like masks, Covid test documentation, vaccine requirements, proof, etc.
What are the General Rules at Hotels in 2023?
You should contact any hotel directly to find out if they're still practicing social distancing, mask rules, sanitizing stations, and housekeeping prior to booking. But to give you an idea, here is how hotels are coping with travel in 2023 in general.
Disclaimer: These are the general tips followed by most hotels, but the hotel you book might have different rules, so, as I mentioned earlier, you'll need to confirm with your specific hotel.
- Glass partitions are no longer common at reception desks, but you'll still find them in several hotels.
- Touchless keys, check-in, and check-out are still heavily used.
- Some hotels still maintain social distance markers on the floor to show where to stand in line, but nothing seems enforced.
- Masks are recommended but not obligatory in both public and private areas.
- Most hotels fully opened their public spaces to all guests. There seems to be no limit to how many people can access them at a given time.
Will There Still Be Travel Interruptions in 2023?
We have had to cancel and change plans many times over the last three years. Between the ever-changing Covid numbers and staffing shortages, things have been in a constant state of flux. And, because of the ebb and flow of Covid and changes in rules and requirements, we remained flexible.
You should look at investing in travel insurance for families to protect your investment, belongings, and family. We are still in an uncertain time when things can change last minute.
We were booked to go to the Caribbean over New Years, but decided in November to change our plans and go to Montana instead. Because we had travel insurance, we got our money back.
I have also booked hotel stays that are non-refundable but offer insurance. I am opting for it every time right now given the uncertainty that remains in travel in 2023.
The bottom line is that even in 2023, there are still uncertainties. Though travel interruptions are fewer than in the past 2-3 years, it's still necessary to have travel insurance that covers any hotel cancelation and flight interruptions in case things change.
What To Know About Vacation House Rentals?
Many travelers have been opting for camping or renting vacation homes through Air BnB or VRBO and this trend looks like it will continue in 2023.
We recently rented a vacation home in a beach town, and I have to say it was great. While I did take extra precautions to wipe everything down with sanitizing wipes in places that were high-touch areas before we settled in, our two weeks in a vacation rental were great for getting away.
If you are opting to camp at a campsite, you should call in advance for any of their requirements and safety practices for common areas.
What Travel Restrictions Are There?
You DEFINITELY want to do your research for travel restrictions before hitting the road. Each state and country is currently imposing different requirements depending on their location and current phase.
Some states and countries require a negative Covid test within a certain amount of time before arrival. Others are requiring a 14-day quarantine (with significant fines for violators). Some are requiring proof of vaccination and others have no restrictions at all.
Some have rules specific for travelers from certain states or countries. And, some locations are not allowing short-term rentals (as in vacation homes) for travelers from certain areas. In some cases, rules are specific for a city, county, or region.
- Do your research about where you are headed.
- Do your research about the restrictions to where you are returning, and gauge how that may impact your life if you need to return to work or if your kids will return to school.
- Consider looking into whether or not there are travel insurance plans that will cover any portion of your lost trip in the event of a cancellation or unexpected closure.
- You also should also have a plan for what to do if you or your family get ill while on vacation.
- You should be aware of the current health situation in your destination. It may influence your decision on whether or not to move forward with your trip and your behavior when you are there (especially if you are heading to a “hot spot.” )
- Call ahead to restaurants to find out about seating, and reservations, if they are open, and what is their process.
- Check with your hotel, rental home, car rental service, and airline for any specific regulations they have travelers abide by.
Final Thought About Travel In 2023
Travel is definitely different at the moment, but there are options for getting out there. Whether you are taking a plane, road trip, or heading out locally, call ahead to know about any safety changes or requirements. By being informed and prepared, and with some advanced planning, you can get out and enjoy a safer change of scenery.