There was a time when we thought that COVID was so 2020. That with the beginning of the new year, the virus would magically disappear. Or at least that we would gain control over it, lock it in a little box and hide it in a dark dungeon. That the next time we’d hear about the virus would be in a couple of years in an Oliver Stone movie. But that didn’t happen.
For the last months, we’ve been waiting for someone claiming “Okay guys, this was the last wave” and actually be right about it. With the summer coming up, we imagine that many of you start dreaming of a well-deserved naturist vacation. Will that be possible? We like to see things from the bright side, and definitely think that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But what will be the consequences? And how can we do this safely and responsibly?
Is it ethical to travel in 2021?
#StayHome has been a trending hashtag for more than 12 months now, and the message is very clear: Don’t leave your home unless it’s absolutely necessary. Your vacation can wait another year, doesn’t it? Visiting another place doesn’t just come with the risk of you getting ill, you can also bring back (a variant of) the virus to your home country. Or take the virus with you on vacation and infect fragile strangers. Or get stranded somewhere. We can give you a long list of reasons why you shouldn’t travel in 2021.
On the other hand, here in Spain, a lot of hotels aren’t just closed, they have been sealed. As if someone has just been murdered inside. Will they ever open up again? Chances are that many won’t. The tourism industry directly employs 1 in 10 people worldwide. In many countries, a large chunk of the economy is related to tourism. Shutting down tourism for another year will be a disaster for hundreds of millions of households.
We believe that the answer to if it’s ethical to travel or not completely depends on you. It’s not a question about whether it’s safe to travel, but about whether you are willing to travel responsibly. Here are some tips to have a great and safe naturist vacation in 2021.
1. Do your research
One thing we’ve missed a lot during the pandemic is the flexibility of traveling. The option to just go to the train station and decide there and then what our next destination would be. The chance to take a plane to the other side of the world. Not having to check every other day until what time the shops, bars, and museums will be open. If they are open altogether.
The first thing you want to ask yourself is whether the country you want to visit will actually allow you to enter. And if it does, what the restrictions will be and which tests and documents you’ll need. The Skyscanner website has a great overview of this. If you are traveling overland, make sure not to forget to also check this for any countries that you’ll be passing through.
2. Follow the news updates
Restrictions come and go, and can change in a very short period of time. Even if you’ve found a place that seems perfectly safe to travel to today, it’s impossible to estimate if this will still be the case next month. Therefore it’s important to keep following the news updates for your destination. Which message does the government send about tourism? Which possible restrictions are they announcing?
In some cases, it is actually possible to predict the near future. The website of the WHO has excellent graphics of the current COVID situation in many parts of the world. If the number of cases or hospitalizations is on a rise in your destination, it’s quite likely that new restrictions might be applied soon. Which could include a travel ban, either by your destination country or your home country.
3. Be sure to be insured
Decent travel insurance is always important, even if it’s just to give you some peace of mind. But today, it’s even more important to double-check what might happen if you get seriously ill, if your flight gets canceled, if you urgently need to return home to take care of someone, and so on.
It’s also important to check the cancellation policies. Pretty much every business in the tourism industry has COVID-cancellation policies these days (and if they don’t, you may want to find another one instead). But what do these policies include? Under what circumstances will they give your money back? And will this be in the form of hard cash or a voucher for a next visit?
4. Choose your transportation
Unlike what many people think, planes are actually quite a safe way to travel during the pandemic. Because the air volume in the cabin is being completely refreshed every two to four minutes and the filters that are used are comparable to those used in hospitals. But also because airlines tend to have very strict COVID policies. Most won’t allow you onboard if you can’t show a recent negative PCR test. And many airlines don’t fly with full planes these days, to allow space between the passengers. It’s always best to check the measures that airlines take upfront. Here’s an overview for European airlines, for example.
The same counts for pretty much every type of public transport. If you’re taking a bus or train, check their policies upfront. Another option, and a very popular one these days, is using your own transportation. Not only will you just be close to just your travel company, but you also have the option to change direction or destination if that would be necessary.
5. Think about accommodation
We recently published a blog post about the France4Naturisme campsites. All great campsites but also all pretty large. Is a campsite with thousand or more visitors really the place to be in 2021? We visited two of those campsites in the summer of 2020 and can vouch that they take COVID safety matters really seriously. Often even more than some smaller campsites. But purely statistically, more people increase your risk of getting infected or the risk that you infect someone else.
Smaller places were already on a rise last year, and this won’t be different this year. Boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, and small campsites might be a good option, or you could get a private accommodation this year.
6. Plan your activities
If you’re like us, you also want to do something else during your vacation than lazing naked next to the pool. We like to visit cities with lots of culture and historical buildings, and we like to sit on a terrace sipping wine and watch the beehive of people do their thing. In 2020, we avoided cities and pretty much every popular tourist sight. We went all the way for the wonders of nature instead. The summer of 2021 won’t be any different. Avoiding busy places will remain important.
If you do want to go to busy places, it’s best to plan your visits so you get there just after opening time, just before closing time, or around noon, to avoid the crowds. But a much better idea is to see what else is out there. The second-largest waterfall is probably as nice as the largest one, but less crowded. The smaller market might be more local (and cheaper) than the popular one. Maybe this is a good time to try something new?
7. Travel sustainably
Sustainable traveling is often linked to ecologically aware traveling. People talk about carbon offsets, avoiding long showers, and cleaning up after themselves. But this is just one aspect of sustainable traveling. It’s not just about your ecological footprint, it’s about your footprint in general. If your vacation is bad for anyone or anything in any way, it’s not sustainable. This includes getting in a cage with a tiger that spends most of its life sedated just so people can take Instagram pictures with it. But this also includes visiting a 5-star hotel where the local staff is underpaid and treated like slaves.
Why do you need to do this specifically in 2021? Because sustainable options are more often found in less touristy places. You could visit Florence and check off all the highlights, stop for a coffee at Starbucks, have lunch in McDonald’s, and pass by Walmart for groceries on the way back. Or you could spend a day in an unknown Italian town, eat at a local family restaurant, and get your groceries on the market. The latter is not just more sustainable, it’ll also keep you away from the crowds.
8. Don’t forget to pack the necessities
We’ve mentioned travel documents earlier, many countries in the world ask for proof of a negative PCR test or vaccination, make sure to bring these with you. As well as any other travel document that needs to be filled out.
Also, make sure to bring enough masks. At some places, these may still be hard to find, and keep in mind that some countries require a specific type of mask. And then there’s hand gel. Bring it and use it. A lot. It’s one of the best ways to keep yourself and everyone around you safe.
9 Be responsible!
Actually, this is also a part of sustainable traveling, but it deserves a point of its own. Traveling in 2021 is only okay if you can do so responsibly. We’re all so tired of COVID and it’s heavily attacking our mental health. But a naturist vacation is not an escape from COVID. Last summer, we’ve seen people party like it was 2019 while their home country was still in lockdown. Don’t be those people!
If you get the chance, it’s also a good idea to travel in the shoulder seasons. In many places, you can also find great naturist weather in June and September. There will be fewer other people, for naturist resort owners who often work with less staff it’s great to spread their guests, and it’s probably cheaper too.
Whatever you do, make sure to keep practicing physical and social distancing and don’t travel if you or someone you have had recent contact with have symptoms of or have been diagnosed with COVID. Once again, be responsible!
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