A Year Without Destinations: Beach Bound during the Pandemic

by Jude Gomez | March 19, 2021

The Silver Lining

As we reach a year into the pandemic and the work from home setup, it’s understandable that some of us would feel antsy, not being able to move around as freely as we used to. On top of that, canceled vacation plans from 2020 still weigh heavily at the back of our minds, as if they were a vacation itch we just could not scratch.

Thankfully, with easing restrictions and requirements for travel, Filipinos have been able to enjoy some destinations, albeit with a few limitations. Of course, while we ready our swimsuits and hiking gear, we have to remember that safety should always be our first priority.

In this blog, we are getting some New Normal travel tips from some RJPH staff who have experienced going on trips firsthand.

[NOTE: These trips took place the first week of March 2021 and earlier. Please be advised that there may be changes in the medical and LGU-placed requirements, as well as travel restrictions moving forward.]

A peaceful morning on the beachside of Boracay

The First Step

The very first step in planning for a vacation is choosing the destination. Sadly, hopping on a car with our best buddies and going wherever the road takes us is no longer an option. To continue combating the spread of COVID-19 in the country, Local Government Units (LGUs) have put up requirements travelers need to provide. With that said, following the road and trying to enter an area without the proper documents may lead to hapless travelers being turned away.

This also applies to local resorts within the city. Previously walk-in-friendly establishments may already require prior reservations and medical documentation nowadays, so it’s always better to contact them weeks before the chosen dates. At the same time, the price of tours and self-planned itineraries have changed, with some destinations increasing in price, while it can be the opposite for others. Doing research before jumping into vacation mode would definitely do well to prevent unforeseen or unexpected expenses.

Borawan Island, with a rainbow peeking from a distance

One of our travelers shared that on a trip to Borawan, Quezon, their group of friends complied with the medical requirements of their destination’s local government unit (LGU), which included an x-ray result and a checkup. Once assured that they had no COVID-19 symptoms, they requested a medical certificate at least three days prior to their outing, and only then were they granted a travel pass.

Another traveler who recently flew to Boracay shared the importance of checking the LGU requirements of their chosen destination, as this may be different per location. For Boracay, they were required to get swab tests, as scheduled by the Department of Tourism, at least a day before the flight. Once they were able to present their swab test results, roundtrip flight, and accommodation details, the LGU of Boracay sent them a personal traveler QR code. This QR code is to aid in contact tracing, as travelers in Boracay are required to scan it in all major establishments that they visit.

Sunset on the horizon

Fun in the Sun

Whether it’s an overnight stay or an excursion lasting a few days, it’s an absolute must to bring essentials. We’re not talking about handpicked OOTD’s perfect for the next snap; during this new normal, it’s literally illegal to be anywhere public without a mask and a face shield. Along with our comfy clothes and fun in the sun kits, we should have our personal alcohol bottles and even an extra mask for emergencies on hand.

Our Borawan beachgoer reiterated the importance of masks and face shields. Despite being only with her group in their chartered van to their destination, the vehicle carrying limited capacity, making sure that social distancing was still observed. Other than this, bringing around all required documents is a must; their accommodation requested for their medical certificates, together with the routine temperature check, before they could enter the resort.

Sleeping under the stars

It wasn’t so different for Boracay. All documents should be brought to the airport, something that made the process smoother for our beach-bound traveler. She even argued that passing through the gates were much easier now. Boarding and riding on the plane was similar to prior the pandemic, discounting of course the misting and disinfection upon entry and throughout the flight, as well as the PPE-garbed cabin crew.

Despite the changes in procedures and heightened caution, our travelers stressed the importance of enjoying the trip and getting a well-deserved R&R. After a stressful year cooped up at home, renewing ourselves through a vacation is definitely one of the ways to prevent burnout. Our travelers made sure to make the most out of their vacations, spending as much time in the water and on the sandy beaches as they could, and partaking in the seaside activities their destination had to offer.

A hearty feast from the sea

Home Sweet Home

All good things come to an end, and after a few short days of lazing by the beachside, our travelers had to say goodbye to the sunsets on the horizon, and hello to the four corners of their home workstation. The responsibilities of a traveler do not end there, however; due to being exposed to others in the destination, a self-imposed 14-day quarantine is in order upon returning home. One of our travelers even plans to have another swab test after the 14 days, just to be sure, as she said that we should always remember the people waiting for us at home, as they’re the ones we’re potentially bringing the virus to.

The much-coveted window seat

Still, they believe that going on a vacation is worth all the preparations and resources as it definitely helps with alleviating stress and preventing burnout. With a work from home setup, it’s very important that employees still experience environments other than their room and work desk, and to socialize, albeit with caution, with friends and family. Our travelers say that they have a new-found appreciation for vacation more than ever, especially after staying at home for almost a year.

For those who are also interested in not letting this pandemic stop their summer this year, our travelers offered some tips when booking your next travel destination:

Do extensive research on your chosen place. Check on not just the weather and pricing, but also the LGU directives, medical requirements, and the high and low peak seasons.

Always follow the directive of the LGU in the destination, whether they require a rapid test, a swab test, or even just a medical certificate. This counts for everyone in your party, to ensure safety for all.

Always wear your mask and face shields whenever applicable, and sanitize regularly. There are many limitations during the pandemic, but do not let this get in the way of your enjoyment. Be flexible and adapt to the changes of the new normal.

When looking for a place to eat, choose a restaurant with an open area, as the virus can be easier to transmit in closed, air conditioned establishments.

We truly hope that this has been helpful to those who are looking into planning a vacation during the new normal. While protecting ourselves and our loved ones from the virus is of high priority, we should not neglect giving ourselves time to rest and relax. Whether this is through pampering ourselves by having staycations at home, or through a mask-clad adventure going to the beach, we all deserve to renew ourselves so that we may be ready to continue facing our day-to-day challenges.