Every corner of the travel industry has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. One light at the end of the tunnel? There are small ways you can help support tour ops, local communities and more...
The travel and hospitality industries have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns around the world.
Tour operators have postponed trips, airlines are on the brink of collapse, and your favourite travel brands are all feeling the impact of the lack of planning, booking and clicking.
Since we can’t travel right now, it may seem like there’s little we can do. However, there are a few small ways to help make a big difference – and if money’s a concern right now, they don’t all require dipping into your purse.
The team at Wanderlust were touched by several thoughtful messages from our readers, telling us they’ve been enjoying our recent articles, or that we’ve brought a smile to their face during these strange and unsettling times.
We can only imagine similar messages of support would be a real boost to teams working across the industry, especially those who are in crisis mode, dealing with customer queries around the clock, and worried about their own job security.
Planning on using a tour operator again? Let them know. Loved your last tour guide? Tell them, and nominate them for a Wanderlust World Guide Award. Had a brilliant customer service experience, given the circumstances? Shout out the employee to management.
We can’t travel right now, but we can still #TravelWithKindness.
A personal note is great, but so is shouting about your experience on a public forum. You can leave reviews for just about any travel service on TripAdvisor.
Once the world opens up again, hotels and Airbnbs will be opening their doors, too – and we all know reviews help decide whether or not someone’s going to book a stay.
Whether you've been in touch personally or shared a public review, it's also important to reach out to the brand you love on social media.
Share your favourite travel memory with them using #WishIWasThere – we’ll share it if you tag @wanderlustmag on Twitter and Instagram, too. Make sure to the tag the brands directly so they can see it.
If you’re not currently worried about money, then ABTA (The Travel Association) are asking you to consider postponing any booked trips, rather than asking for a refund.
Not only does this mean you’ll get to enjoy your much-anticipated adventure – just slightly later than expected – but you’ll also be helping the company (or companies) you’re travelling with.
As you can probably guess, companies are being inundated with refund requests. But booking an entire trip involves a lot of third parties – accommodation, restaurants, day trips, transport on the ground – and all of those need to refund the operator to help you get your refund, too. It's a bit of a tricky one.
If postponing isn’t an option, you can also ask for a Refund Credit Note, which is fully ATOL protected until 31 July 2020 – at which point, if you’ve been unable to use the credit on another trip, you’ll be entitled to your cash refund.
Lots of tour companies offer gift voucher schemes – consider buying one for yourself, if you’d usually booking a trip around this time.
It's a great way to ensure that your travel money is kept safe, and also to help out with cash flows - which, for many, have ceased to exist during lockdown.
Intrepid Travel offers gift vouchers, as do countless hotels. Check their official websites to see what schemes are available. Tudor Farmhouse Hotel in the Wye Valley, for example, is using Crowdfunder to give visitors the chance to pay for (seriously discounted) future stays now.
There are also some great guarantees out there at the moment. G Adventures are offering travellers travelling before 15 December 2020 (so, later this year) easy cancellation and rebooking options.
Whenever you buy or book, make sure you have FULLY scoured the T&Cs to check your purchase is 100% protected in case the company sadly fails, or the current situation heads even further south…
It’s not just trip providers, airlines and accommodation providers struggling, just think of how many usually-bustling visitor attractions - museums, galleries, national parks – are empty, too.
The best way to show your support? Take part in their virtual tours! Lots of the major museums and iconic sites around the world are offering online-based experiences for would-be visitors.
The more the merrier for these kinds of things – especially to the staff creating these tours, for whom the numbers of visitors will make a big difference.
There are countless ways to get involved in supporting your local community – from becoming an NHS volunteer to simply checking in on vulnerable neighbours (via phone) to see if they need your help.
The more we all get involved, the more communities will be boosted by a tidal wave of goodwill and togetherness. That said, lots of communities around the world rely heavily on tourism to keep afloat and to sustain their industry. So, how can you help them?
For example, you might not be able to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary right now, but there’s always the option send a small, regular donation or adopt an animal. Here are some conservation projects to consider.
If there’s a village, town or region that you hold close to your heart, reach out to your guide, or the locals if you can, and ask directly if there’s any way you can offer your support.
Lots of travellers who make their living through – well, travelling – are grounded, too.
Fortunately, lots of our favourite travellers are keeping busy with a variety of activities, groups and projects – and offer various ways to get your travel fix without needing to leave the house.
Travel journalist Emma Thomson is running a creative writing group on Discord, and there are countless, regularly-updated podcasts to enjoy: Simon Calder’s and Holly Rubenstein’s are just two of them.
Adventurer Ben Fogle is running a 4pm 'Adventure Class' for kids on Instagram and naturalist Chris Packham is going live each morning at 9am on Twitter to talk nature, birdwatching and the arrival of spring.
Check out our favourite travel books to read now – many of which you’ll be able to find an audio or ebook version. Now’s a great time to download ebooks – our associate web editor Peter Moore has a bunch on offer.
For many of us, travel is a way of life – and nothing would stop us reading about our favourite destinations, or browsing trips we’ll be able to take in the future.
Lots of travel brands – mags, websites, tour operators, guidebook publishers and more – are offering lots of great articles and ideas to keep you entertained and inspired during this crisis.
Indeed, you might even find a few have excellent sales on right now. Case in point: our friends at Bradt are offering 50% off all their guidebooks.
So, don’t ditch them now – keep reading, keep dreaming, keep researching and keep exploring!
To help with all that dreaming, researching and planning, you can't go wrong with a magazine subscription.
Of course, we hope your favourite travel magazine is Wanderlust 😉 If it is, you can get it delivered to your door (via the usual post) here: 10 issues from just £17.50.
If you don’t like the idea of a physical delivery, you can subscribe to receive only the digital editions sent straight to your inbox for just £25.
You'll also get access to our entire magazine archive dating back to 2010 - so you'll have plenty to read on your laptop, computer, smartphone or tablet while you're staying at home.
Finally, there are lots of ways to subscribe to Wanderlust online: get our free weekly newsletters (still packed with competitions!), create a free Wanderlust.co.uk account, follow us on Instagram or subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Love travel quizzes, events and competitions? Then sign up today for free so you don’t miss out!