COLUMBIA – While places are beginning to slowly re-open in Missouri, not every state is following suit yet, and international travel can feel even further off. There are ways to “travel” from home, however, that could ultimately help plan future trips.
Alle Pierce is a travel expert who’s visited 35 countries so far. She said the things we do at home now will alleviate the tedious tasks of planning a trip, so we are ready to dive right in post-quarantine. Pierce’s favorite way to travel from home is by utilizing virtual experiences. Companies like Airbnb, Google Arts and Culture and even some amusement parks right here in Missouri are offering online experiences you can access from home without ever leaving your couch.
“Think about it as a way to learn about a place that you would ultimately like to visit once this is all said and done,” Pierce said. “There’s so many different options and you’re actually able to connect with people all around the world in these classes.”
Travel agents like Donna Steele, of Direct Travel in Osage Beach, are also utilizing opportunities like these to benefit their clients.
“We’ve actually been doing a lot of those and the webinars, learning about our different products, different places to go and what to do in those places,” Steele said. “Let’s say you were always interested in going to Amalfi Coast, one of my bucket list places, you can actually take a virtual tour of it and get a good idea of what you really want to see in person.”
Pierce said travel-related books and movies can also be used as some of the best tools to research destination spots before narrowing the hotels and restaurants you may want to stay and visit in those cities.
“With the help of movies, TV shows and books, there’s some really great content out there that will mentally take you off the couch and transport you somewhere exotic,” she said.
If you can’t wait to travel abroad, Pierce said there’s ways to turn your kitchens and living rooms into places you’ve visited in the past or places you plan to see in the future. She says anyone can plan a dinner native to a country overseas or learn a traditional dance to put on a show with family.
“With a little imagination and a whole lot of creativity, there are ways to replicate or even bring in elements that you love so much from those trips or traveling to your home right now while you’re in quarantine,” Pierce said.
While these ideas can only transport you to a certain extent, Steele said there is hope for future travel plans. Money is tighter during a time period like this one, but many of the companies Steele works with are offering greater incentives to book now.
“All of our purveyors have put policies in place where you can put a refundable deposit down and you decide up to 48 hours prior to your trip whether you want to go or not,” Steele said. “So, we’ve been having a lot of interest and we have been starting to get quite a few bookings for late in the year and early in 2021.”
She also said there are certain companies offering additional credits for upgrades in housing or other packages now, too. Direct Travel is still limiting in-person meetings as much as possible right now, but is already seeing other countries lifting travel bans as early as the end of May.