We are all tired of travel restrictions, masking, distancing and the pungent smell of hand alcohol. But if you are reading this, then you are still alive! You have come this far through a global pandemic, and there is still a lot of joy to be gained while traveling – if you keep a few basic rules in mind.
The Hawaiian Islands are among the most popular travel destinations in the world, so it’s no wonder we all flocked here the moment we were fully vaccinated. But each island has its own challenges in welcoming visitors, which include understaffing, water shortages and limited hospital capacity.
Of course, tourism is also a major driver of Hawaii’s economy, so it’s not as simple as closing the locks. The Hawaiian hospitality industry has planned – and prepared – for safe return for visitors throughout the lockdown. When the islands opened with restrictions (such as the mandatory Covid test before arrival), the load seemed manageable, but when the restrictions were lifted, infrastructure was overwhelmed, prompting Maui’s mayor to beg airlines to restrict seats.
One approach to this riddle is to take personal responsibility for your own choices. There are ways to visit Hawai’i carefully considering the complex factors at play – and still have a great, memorable vacation.
10 rules for attentive travel
In addition to the current safety protocols, here are 10 rules for the tropical road:
# 1 Plan ahead. If you have reservations about the things you need to do on your list, you have a better chance of achieving them.
# 2 Build time into each phase of your itinerary. Leave upholstery for the extra time things take when systems are taxed.
# 3 Give servers a break. They do their best to get back to work and help you feel good. But they are overworked and rightly concerned about their own safety.
# 4 Tip big, anyway. Even if your experience of service is not what you are used to at a luxury resort, a beautiful restaurant or an expensive trip, tip well. This gesture will go a long way toward acknowledging the situation we are all in. (As always, forget the housekeepers!)
# 5 Be flexible. If the road to Hana is clogged with day tourists, do not be one of them. Either you drive out in the evening and stay for several days, or make your day trip next time. Hana will still be there. Can’t score the restaurant reservation of your dreams? Get takeaway and eat it on your lanai with an even better view.
# 6 Forget the rental car. This is a biggie. Hawai’i used to have the cheapest car rental rates in the US, but now you easily pay more than $ 1,000 a week for even the most common car – if you can secure a reservation at all. Not renting a car can be a game-changer, both in terms of budget and hassle. Get to know your local area better, and trust your hotel shuttle, a local travel company or your own feet to get out and travel.
# 7 Do not do crazy things that increase your chances of landing in the hospital. If you break your ankle by walking past a “do not violate” sign, you will be part of the problem. Help frontline workers stay accessible to people suffering heart attacks and other emergencies in a hospital system that needs to focus its attention on the pandemic.
# 8 Contribute to the community. Join one of many government initiatives for mama programs that allow visitors to learn about Hawaiian history and culture while planting trees or tidying up a beach.
# 9 Be kind, even when things do not go as planned. Losing peace of mind does nothing better.
# 10 Relax. That’s what you came here to do. Do not feel the need to see and do everything. Slow down and get deep into the beauty where you are instead of trying to see everything in just a few days.
These 10 easy adjustments to your mindset – and your travel behavior – will ensure that your Hawaii vacation becomes memorable, perhaps even magical.