We discuss how to holiday at home once COVID-19 travel restrictions begin to lift.
There are two things no-one is disputing about the novel coronavirus.
One, it has affected every aspect of life around the world.
Two, it has changed the face of travel, probably forever.
When the pandemic is eventually brought to heel and life begins to return to normal, most of us won’t be choosing an overseas destination for our first holiday. No-one can predict how the coronavirus situation will evolve over the next few months, but federal authorities are pessimistic about Australia’s borders reopening before Christmas, and, even then, Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham has stated that the ban on international travel could extend beyond then if necessary. New Zealand has stated that it’s willing to consider easing border restrictions for Australia and Singapore once both countries have the virus contained, but both Indonesia and Thailand have banned non-residents for the foreseeable future.
If you’re a wanderer like us, though, you probably want to get your next holiday fix in as soon as it’s safe to do so.
The solution? Intra-state and domestic travel.
At the time of writing, Australian states and territories are successfully flattening the curve and isolating outbreak clusters, with some places like the Northern Territory recording no cases of community transmission.
This means travel restrictions within states and territories are likely to be the first restrictions lifted, followed by a gradual reduction of state border controls. Before then, we’re also likely to see the harsher social distancing regulations eased – popular beaches around the country have already reopened, and elective surgeries are back on the table.
So how can you safely enjoy a satisfying holiday in your home country?
1. Start re-exploring your local area
Although the re-opening of cafes, bars and restaurants for dining could still be long way off, non-essential movements like shopping, hiking or relaxing on the beach will probably be the first option available to us.
Think of your favourite beach or picnic spot. Now put it to one side, and start researching other options that you haven’t visited.
Holidaying can be about just relaxing and having a break, but we think the best getaways are the ones involve adventure and exploration too, so that’s what you should aim for here. Go somewhere different – it doesn’t matter whether it’s an inner-city park or a beach or an alpine walking track. It’s a good way to get back into the holiday mindset without actually spending money or travelling anywhere.
If you’re a bit of a social butterfly, don’t feel like you have to go solo. Bring a friend or your significant other (obeying all relevant social distancing restrictions, of course) and spend some time out in nature together. You can even stop at a café or restaurant and pick up some takeaway – nothing says ‘romantic’ like Italian and red wine at a sunset lookout.
Remember that every dollar you spend at local businesses isn’t just helping the owners. It’s also stimulating the economy, which is essential for helping your country get back on its feet. So, if you’re lucky enough to have emerged from COVID-19 with your job intact, don’t be afraid to splash a bit of cash at your closest takeout – you’ll enjoy a great meal, and you’re doing your part to help out.
2. Intra-state road trips
Once non-essential travel is fully permissible within state lines, we’ll have the option of embarking on that staple of Aussie vacations: the Great Road Trip.
Both Australia and New Zealand are countries that reward long-distance driving. The distances between Australian towns, particularly once you leave the coastline, mean big trips are necessary to get anywhere. New Zealand’s townships might not be as dispersed, but, with so much stunning scenery, why wouldn’t you want to stay behind the wheel?
You might decide to stay at a different place every night, or you might take things slow and only visit a few destinations. Either way, road trips are a great way for exploring the corners of your state that you overlook when you fly – small-town attractions, remote national parks, delicious local eateries and picturesque landscapes are all part of the road-tripping life.
Before you go, make sure you get your vehicle checked and serviced by a professional. The last thing you want is to break down in the middle of the Nullarbor Plain.
3. Drive-to destinations
If you like your holidays less pedal-and-petrol and more cocktails-and-couches, skip a road trip in favour of a drive-to destination.
Lucky for you, we have 19 properties available across Australia and two in New Zealand, all in popular holiday regions, and all with the same high standards you’d expect from Wyndham.
We’ve been using the COVID-induced accommodation closures as a time for refurbishments and large-scale renovations, so, even if you’ve visited before, come back! Everything will be fresh, new and scrupulously clean, and we’d love to have you.
One of our favourite drive-to destinations is Dinner Plain, mostly because getting there is half the fun. It’s located in the Central Highlands, Victoria, and involves travelling along the Great Alpine Road, which is Australia’s highest sealed road. There’s plenty of amazing scenery, and, whether you’re visiting in summer or winter, the range of outdoor activities will keep you and your family entertained for weeks.
Torquay is another great drive-to option – it lies at the start of the Great Ocean Road, making it perfect for the first leg of a road trip.
For those from Perth, we definitely recommend visiting Dunsborough. It’s roughly three hours from the capital to this little Margaret River town, and, upon arrival, you’ll have access to stunning beaches, remote bushwalks, and some of the best wine in the country.
Tasmanians are within easy reach of Seven Mile Beach, one of our most popular eco-resorts, while residents of the Gold Coast and Brisbane can seek a change of pace by staying at either Marcoola or Golden Beach.
Sydney natives should consider driving up to northern New South Wales. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the entire region is beautiful, and staying at places like Port Macquarie or Port Stephens is a great way to counter weeks of not leaving the house.
4. Domestic travel
When state borders finally open, holidaying will get both easier and harder. More people will be travelling domestically, which means popular destinations will be crowded and possibly backed up with a glut of savvy travellers who grabbed holiday bargains during COVID-19.
Crowds are the last place you want to be following a pandemic, so consider heading to less-frequented places or booking during the off-season. If you book flights or accommodation now (rather than once the coronavirus has subsided), you might find there’s some very heavy discounts available.
Check the fine print (particularly the cancellation policies), but don’t be afraid to plan ahead. After all, there’s no better time to do it than now; you can map out your itinerary during lockdown, and then scour the Internet for deals. Just as importantly, purchasing bookings now is a way to help support tourism operators at a time when businesses both large and small are facing financial crises – cash flow generated by pre-bookings, along with government support packages, is the only lifeline for hotels, tour guides and restaurants who’ve been shut down by COVID-19.
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