Tour manager Elspeth Ooi offers advice on how to keep yourself safe while on vacations

FOR the past year and a half, Malaysians have been prohibited from travelling outside the borders of their state. The ongoing pandemic has made it dangerous for both local and international travellers to embark on exciting adventures.

However, with the introduction of widespread vaccinations, travelling has once again been permitted.

As the nation’s vaccination rate reaches 90%, the government has agreed to lift travel restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals. While the vaccine does offer protection against Covid-19, it is still crucial to practice safety precautions when on holiday, especially overseas.

Elspeth Ooi, tour manager of Apple Vacations, knows a thing or two about taking safety precautions when travelling. As a tour manager, the Kedah native has developed a skill in keeping her clients safe when journeying across the world.

“As a tour manager, I cover the responsibilities of a tour guide and travel manager,” said Ooi who has over a decade of experience in the tourism industry.

“Hence, it requires a lot of homework and research to ensure that your travellers are not only safe, but also well versed about their vacation country of choice.”

Due to her expertise in the matter, LYFE spoke to Ooi on tips to safeguard one’s well-being against the spread of Covid-19 during travels.

$!Hop on the Internet and do your research before booking your trip. — PHOTO COURTESY OF FREEPIK

Do your research

There are a couple of important factors to consider before deciding on a country to visit. For instance, it is pivotal to read and know about the different SOPs that countries outside Malaysia practice.

“I think it is important to study about the destination beforehand,” said Ooi.

“To know whether they (local tourists) need to be quarantined when they arrive at the destination. Or if they are required to do a PCR test when they return home.”

Malaysians looking to travel should also look toward nations that are opening their borders to Malaysians.

Though countries like the US and Thailand are quarantine-free, certain international destinations are still not open for travel.

“They would also need to research which countries will accept Malaysians. This is because while we are able to travel now, certain countries still do not accept Malaysian tourists.

“This is important to know, especially if the holiday location requires travellers to transit to other countries in order to reach the desired destination.”

$!Travel in the new normal.. extra masks and hand sanitiser should be a priority when packing for trips.

Bring essential health items

Given the current circumstances, health protection is key. While immunisation reduces the chances of infection, infection is still a possibility. Therefore, arming yourself with essential health items can help further strengthen your shield against Covid-19.

“A face mask is definitely the most important tool. Besides that, other basic health items such as hand sanitisers and personal tissues also help. I think it is always better to bring your own tissues with you because you never know if the tissues you get elsewhere are clean.”

Aside from that, Ooi believes that having a personal thermometer at all times is also important. “Have your own personal thermometer with you to constantly monitor your temperature. It will help you know if anything is wrong.”

Practice healthy precautionary habits

Apart from the necessary health tools, Ooi advocates for travellers to adopt healthy precautionary protocols. Some of them include limiting contact with frequently touched surfaces, wearing a face mask, washing and sanitising hands regularly, and social distancing when you are out.

Ooi adds to the list, noting the importance of embracing the mindset of being medically prepared for anything. “What also helps is to be medically prepared for anything. So, if you have any medical coverage or insurance card, bring it with you.

“Touch wood, if anything were to happen to you, at least you will have some sort of medical protection. This is just to be safe.”

Away from the crowd

Now that you have adopted the following steps, what is next? According to Ooi, she contends that this current period will be an ideal time to explore different holiday spots. Since Covid thrives in crowded places, Ooi believes natural attractions serve as a suitable alternative.

“I would advise travellers to avoid going to crowded places such as festivals and theme parks. Instead, maybe opt for more natural attractions. Like for instance, at Apple Vacations, we are now highlighting more natural spots like the iconic Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia, or [even] Iceland.

“Although the attractions in the city are usually more popular, we believe that natural attractions too have a lot to offer.”

Final verdict

Covid-19 is no joke! While it is liberating to travel again, it is important that we stay vigilant during our exciting adventures. Hence, we need to take healthy precautionary measures to protect ourselves and the people around us. Only then, can we truly enjoy the joys of travelling once again.

And remember, if you are feeling unwell or are not vaccinated, it is best to part with your holiday plans (for now) and stay home!