These days, during the time of Covid-19, there are a lot more questions than answers regarding travel. At least now with some restrictions starting to loosen up, it is starting to feel that we can take a deep breath and begin to ease into some type of normalcy. With the discussion from some countries about opening borders, airlines beginning to put out safe travelling guidelines and schedules, we are very much watching for any opportunity where we can pack our backpacks, unfold our sunnies and hit the road. We, here at Free & Easy, are paying close attention to our most favourite countries so that when the world is ready to travel we will be ready too.Here's a sneak peak at our top countries we know we'll be visiting and where they currently are at with tourism.
Greece has shown quick response to the pandemic and because of this have had fewer cases than many countries. Along with this, comes the ability to open their borders and begin welcoming travellers, as early as June 15th. They have already opened many aspects of their country including bars, restaurants and archeological sites. Flights departing from Canada to Athens will resume as early as July, with a couple of flights each week and that frequency increasing as they roll into August. Hopefully, we will be on their list of low risk countries by then because we are definitely looking forward to enjoying a glass of wine on a terrace in Athens overlooking the Acropolis. We hope to be releasing some possible dates in the next few weeks - so start imagining yourself in Greece!
Being one of the most successful countries in Latin America battling the pandemic, Costa Rica has taken the spread very seriously and managed to keep their numbers down to just over 1000 cases. With their success, they plan on opening their borders back up to tourism by June 30th (with some restrictions). Costa Rica is tackling this with a 4 phase plan that will have them almost back to business as usual by the beginning of August. Currently, as of June 1st, they are opening many aspects of daily life including restaurants, bars and public areas. Come August, which is the start of phase 4, things hopefully have evolved to somewhat normal daily life. Costa Rica will be one of the first countries in Latin America that we will be able to travel to and take in some of that hot sun and glorious surf come this fall.
Spain (initially hit very hard) really took a strong approach to the pandemic, their quick lock down response is why they will be preparing to open up their borders this summer. They imposed an extreme lockdown to all citizens, and have decided that even though they are seeing a massive drop in cases they are hoping the extend a further lockdown for 15 more days, starting June 7th, to finish the virus off 'once and for all' as of June 21. With their strategies to control the virus, they look to be in good shape to be opening things back up for July 1st. With the thought of Spain opening late summer, we definitely have great wines and tapas in mind not to mention that Mediterranean beach life!
With summer already well under way in Portugal, the timing of their opening for locals could not be better. They began their 4 phase plan weeks ago, and are currently entering into phase 4 on June 6th since they have been seeing cases of the virus continuing to drop. With the phase 4 plan, businesses will be open including restaurants and bars (already open as of May) but this list of open activities will also include cinemas and their beautiful beaches. It is looking that Portugal will be open for tourism in early July with flights from Canada twice a week beginning in July and increasing in frequency in August. This is truly a must-visit country, with their fine wines, tasty port, cobblestone roads and breathtaking beaches, there is lots to look forward to for travelling Portugal.
With a population of nearly 70 million, and over 8 million of those living in Bangkok, Thailand has done extremely well in controlling the virus. They currently only have around 60 active cases of COVID-19 in the entire Kingdom. Thailand is very much thinking about the future of their tourism and are preparing for changes to their infrastructure to ensure safety for all their tourists. As of June 1st, locals have been enjoying getting some freedoms back with restaurants being open, fitness and sports complexes, movie theatres and dance clubs. The plan is to be back open and ready for tourism in July. With their incredible food, soft sand beaches, friendly people and affordability, Thailand has always been one of our top countries to visit. It will always hold a dear spot in our hearts, and we look forward to showing our travellers this amazing country as soon as we possibly can.
Once the first case of the virus was discovered, Indonesia was quick with the declaration of a state of emergency on Feb 29th. They continue to impose strict social distancing rules across the country. Some parts of Indonesia have fared better than others, including Bali that has seemed to magically keep the virus number low compared to other parts of the country. With this, Bali is quite open for those looking to visit the island. It is one of the most popular destinations in the world for diving, surf and sand as well as diverse cultural experiences. We have been running amazing trips to Bali for over 10 years and we'll be continuing this tradition late Fall 2020 or early 2021.
Vietnam is a country that sets the bar high when it comes to dealing with pandemics. With their previous experience with SARS, they were well aware of the action required to prevent the spread and they currently have under 25 cases country wide with no evidence of any community spread happening since April. Currently everything is operating within Vietnam, including bars and restaurants, flights and local transportation are also operating along with inter-provincial travel and tourist attractions. If Vietnam wasn't on your travel radar before, it definitely should be now as one of the safest places to travel post COVID-19. With many safety measures in place, getting out there to enjoy their variety of beautiful landscapes, untouched beaches, friendly people - not to mention their world renowned cuisine - Vietnam has everything you'll be looking for during your backpacking adventure.
So when will the world be ready?
Needless to say, the world is going to be a different place. Short term, travel is going to be very different with guidelines and rules required to enter a country, return home and to fly. In order to get travel moving forward, many countries like Thailand and Indonesia are adopting safety measures for people to feel more comfortable about flying and travelling. Such measures include getting tested before departure so that everyone travelling has a negative test result, those testing positive being denied travel. Airlines have stepped up their hygiene protocols, creating distance between seats on the their flights and requesting travellers wear masks to limit the possibility of spread.
I think we can all feel that when it is safe to travel, we will. There is nothing quite like that feeling when you first arrive into a foreign city, your first introduction to the local cuisine or your first steps onto a new beach. Why do we travel? We all have our own reasons, and there are many. Whether it's for the thrill, the education, the different perspective or the constant search for that amazing beach - when the world is safe and ready - we will travel and Free & Easy will be right there alongside you.