As a passionate traveler, I often think of the places I visit. My traveling halted for a couple of months due to COVID but now when the situation has started to come under control, my travel has been resumed.
Although there are relaxations and a lot of focus is being paid on safety, business trip planning has still become difficult. Not to mention, the new normal has led to the introduction of new safety measures for each country. I did go for my first business trip earlier this month and it was one of its kind experiences.
Check out how I planned for the mid-pandemic trip and how it was considerably different from what my usual business trip planning looks like.
First things first, stringent check-in policies, empty hotels, new travel norms, mandatory Covid tests, constantly wearing facemasks, frequent temperature checks have become the new normal. So, if you are planning to travel even for a day, stay prepared for all this.
As soon as I decided to travel, I began searching for safe flights to Houston. Unlike the pre-Covid period now there were very limited options. Unfortunately, there were no flight choices anymore. Normally, there were a number of direct flights operating from Atlanta to Houston, but now I had only a few options. Also, I had to fill a passenger locator form 48 hours prior to my journey. I was asked to self-isolate for 14 days before organizing a meeting with my clients. The flight I boarded denied serving meals due to social distancing norms. Moreover, to ensure safety to passengers, there were new protocols like compulsory face masks and contactless services.
Lodging also, however, required a lot of planning. To mitigate risk to both myself and my client, I looked for hotels that followed the Covid-19 guidelines. Before booking, I checked hotel reviews, location, and cleaning measures. After a long search, I chose to stay at s Scrubbed Clean Accommodation by OYO; OYO Hotel Channelview I-10. The hotel was well-prepared with all the necessary requirements. There were heightened cleaning measures, contactless check-in, check-out, access to medical services. And the provision of leaving the room opens for a day in between guests for deep cleaning and sanitization provided me a sense of safety. Besides, the hotels also asked me to fill out a health waiver stating that I don’t exhibit any Covid symptoms.
Even after two mid-pandemic trips to Houston in the same Oyo hotel, I never saw people unnecessarily crowding in the lounging area. Moreover, there was just signage displayed everywhere to alert guests to follow precautions. The buffet breakfast option was removed and there was no ice dispenser. Hence, eating alone is a new business travel ritual.
When I actually headed for a meeting with clients, it hardly took 1 hour to wind up. Considering the risk of infection there was no formal gathering or discussions. Everyone had face masks, maintained social distancing, eliminated handshakes, or sharing of beverages.
So my mid-pandemic business trip was not so amazing but it helped me find a practical way to balance my health and work between travels. All-in-all, new mandates made me feel safe but it requires extra planning beforehand.