By Matthew Kronsberg
Sept. 18, 2020
MAPS FOR UNCHARTED TERRITORY A host of new online travel resources have sprung up to help you get from Point A to Point B with few surprises. PHOTO: Alessandro Gottardo
EVEN BEFORE Covid, planning travel could be a complicated, and sometimes stressful process. Add to that the need to find and factor in the pandemic-related rules and restrictions of your destination (and all points in-between,) and the temptation to just stay home mounts. Before you put away your bags, check out these three new tools geared to help you plan travel with maximal safety and minimal surprise.
For Roadtrippers Eager to Avoid Speed Bumps
In 1937, when AAA first offered TripTiks, their bespoke map booklets for crisscrossing the U.S., running out of paved road was among the riskiest parts of a road trip. Times (and hazards) have certainly changed. While paper TripTik booklets are still available to members, most people opt for the organization's useful digital planner. Recently AAA added a new map to their TripTik tool quiver (triptik.aaa.com), with all of the Covid-related data a traveler could need. It includes features to show roadway checkpoints, closings at the borders with Canada and Mexico, and travel restrictions at the city, county or state level, as well as confirmed cases at the state/province and/or county level. The underlying data is updated every weekday by AAA's GIS (geographic information system) team, so travelers can count on having the freshest information at their disposal.
For Globe-Trotters Ready to Dust off Their Passports
A few years ago, the developers from Singapore's MIT Senseable City Lab (a research group focused on design and technology) created Escape, a price-driven flight-search engine. Now the group—recognizing that the equation for many has changed from "Where can I afford to go" to "Where am I allowed to go"—has rolled out their new Covid Controls tool (covidcontrols.co). An interactive map lets you plug in your country of origin to find the countries you can visit, and what (e.g. proof of a negative Covid-19 test) is required to do so. Starting with the United States as your point of origin still makes the map turn disappointingly red, with only 16 countries and territories fully open to visitors from the U.S.
For Wary and Time-Pressed Fliers
Airports, like airlines, are all over the map when it comes to new Covid-related rules. Some require temperature checks for all passengers, others demand on-the-spot Covid-19 tests. And then there's the hodgepodge of amenities—reduced shuttle service, lounge openings, staggered restaurant hours. The Berlin-based travel technology company Airsiders (airsiders.com) attempts to keep track of each airport's protocols as well as individual airline requirements. And launching soon, the company's newest tool promises to help travelers plan and manage airport connections—an increasingly fraught issue now that so many direct flights have been canceled. The algorithm will tell you how much time you'll need in an airport to collect and recheck bags, even factoring in allowances for in-airport Covid testing, where required.
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