While business-related airline travel predictions vary, it seems as though things are starting to loosen up. We may well be entering an era where air travel has begun to feel acceptable and “normal” again. Whether or not business-related air travel returns to the numbers we were seeing just a couple of years ago remains to be seen – but if you will be traveling for work again soon, there are several ways to ease any discomfort you may feel about being around people in closed-in spaces or entering other countries.
Review Traveling Requirements
First, review the requirements and authorizations (if any) necessary to get where you’re going. Don’t assume that community health standards will be “more or less the same” from place to place. Plan to travel with a ready supply of facial coverings, hand sanitizer wipes, and your personal immunization record.
Second, international travel restrictions have begun to loosen up and the need to secure prior authorization appears to be on the wane. Many countries, especially those that rely on tourism, are redoubling efforts to make international travel easier. Thanks to electronic travel authorizations and visa waiver programs, it’s become simpler for travelers to obtain authorization to visit other countries. But you should still double check a country’s requirements before you board a plane.
Expect Precautions to Still Be in Place
As you travel, keep in mind that certain areas will be in worse shape than others. Not everyone has access to healthcare. Not all countries have widely available, effectively distributed vaccination programs. Accordingly, travel authorizations and the availability of transportation services can vary widely from one area to another.
Guidelines and rules will also vary from company to company. Travelers may be asked to continue wearing a facial covering while in a company’s building, even if you are fully vaccinated.
Be Mindful of Changing Etiquette and Social Norms
Etiquette and social norms are still in a state of flux. Over the past 18 months, we’ve all come to accept the idea that shaking hands is more or less frowned upon, or even forbidden. At the very least, this reflexive, friendly gesture has quickly become unwelcome by many. It’s also pretty much accepted that it’s unwise to get closer than six feet to others.
These new customs are unlikely to disappear overnight. Many people may decide to never go back to hand-shaking or hugging. As you travel, it’s more critical than ever to be mindful and respectful of the habits and preferences of others. Don’t make life unnecessarily difficult for FHV drivers, TSA agents, hotel staff, etc.
Even if everyone was fully vaccinated, it’s still likely to be a long time before business travel is completely back to normal. Whatever the new era looks like, it will include at least some travel and we need to be prepared. With more careful planning on the front end and increased awareness of new health-related realities, business travelers can be well-equipped to travel safely and efficiently.