With face masks in the bus, reality while traveling in 2020
Netherlands,  roadtrip,  Travel

10 Useful tips for traveling in 2020

We’ve traveled 3 times this year, once in February, when all the craziness was just starting (no lockdowns in Europe yet). And twice during the rest of the year. In May for a long weekend and this Summer for a road trip. All within The Netherlands. Here are 10 tips we can give you from our experience for traveling in 2020.

Traveling in 2020: know the rules

Before you take off on your road trip, know the rules specific to the country and/or region you’re visiting. Moreover, keep yourselves to these rules. Every country and in some cases regions have their own set of rules to fight the pandemic. You don’t want to break these and get a fine and/or anger the locals for not following the rules. Next to that you don’t want to cause spread of the virus, because you broke the rules.

We went traveling in The Netherlands on both our vacations, where we know the rules. Originally we wanted to make a road trip through Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, but found it too big a pressure to find out the rules of each country, so we canceled our plans for traveling in Europe Summer 2020, and postponed them to 2021. In hindsight, if we would have gone through with our plans, we would have been in Estonia or Latvia, when the borders closed from Latvia for Dutch people and the other 3 countries installed a 2 week quarantine for Dutch people.

Face masks and hand sanitizer

Bring your own face masks and hand sanitizer with you on your trip. We always brought with us our own hand sanitizer. Not all sanitary stops have soap and water available, so it’s handy in those situations.

Face masks are required in The Netherlands when using public transport, in other countries they’re required in even more places. So have them ready, so you can wear them when necessary or if you’re in a situation where you feel safer with a face mask on.

Book with a refundable option

We booked almost all our accommodations with a fully refundable option if they would have to be canceled because of measures taken. Luckily we didn’t need to cancel, but you never know, especially in these times.

When crowded, leave

We’ve made the deal with each other that when it would be too crowded somewhere and we wouldn’t feel comfortable with it, we would leave. We’ve had this once in Tilburg, where we were walking in the city center. It was crowded, because of the carnival and keeping social distance from others was hard. We opted for walking straight to our hotel to get away from the crowded streets. 

Reserve far ahead

We reserved our accommodations in May, since prices for the Summer were going up per week. So we booked before prices would be out of our budget.

Moreover for museums, attractions and swimming you had to reserve a time slot. This wasn’t the case a half year ago, so it takes some getting used to. We couldn’t go to a number of museums or tours, since they were booked full for the duration of our stay. Lots of people were going on staycation on August, so it was peak season. When we would have figured out what we were going to do 1 or 2 weeks earlier, we probably would have been able to visit these things. So don’t be like us and book everything early. Although when traveling in September 2020 it will be less crowded again, and less people visiting attractions.

Swimming pools in The Netherlands now have time slots, so just going to the pool when you feel like it, isn’t possible right now. But reserve a time slot and you can still enjoy a swim.

When traveling in October 2020 get used to higher numbers again, that’s the month with fall break.

Things take longer

We noticed all over our 2 vacations that things take longer. Companies have to take extra measures and this takes time. So take this into consideration when planning something.

We had to wait longer when taking the ferry to Texel in May. Visiting attractions and restaurants also took longer. Since they have to clean more often and ask extra questions (at least in The Netherlands). Be patient, these people are just doing their job and calculate extra time for this when planning.

Kitchen and sanitary

We made sure to have our own kitchen and sanitary (except for the hotel in Tilburg). The reason being that we than would be able to prepare our own food, and not be dependable on having to go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Breakfast with a view, self made a reality while traveling in 2020
Breakfast with a view

This vacation we also didn’t want to share the bathroom with others, these 2 vacations. One of the reasons we didn’t go camping this year, but we also didn’t consider some other accommodations because of shared sanitary.

For lunch we did a lot of picnic’s, which we always love.

Walking and biking

We did a lot of walking and biking. A great way to see your surroundings and easy to keep social distance from others. It’s usually free and when in a place too crowded you can easily leave. Some things we opted for visiting by car, like the Delta Works and getting out at viewpoints.

Biking at National Park De Hoge Veluwe
Biking at National Park De Hoge Veluwe

Restaurants

Sitting on a terrace in Tilburg
Sitting on a terrace in Tilburg

On our Summer road trip we did go out for dinner and lunch a few times, or sat on a terrace. Before going out, check whether you have to make reservations for this. The rules for this have changed a number of times over the last months in The Netherlands. Some restaurants still require it, others don’t.

On a terrace in Zierikzee, social distancing being followed a reality while traveling in 2020
On a terrace in Zierikzee, social distancing being followed

Go by car

When traveling in 2020 we found it easiest and giving the best peace of mind to travel by car, so that we could always go back home and weren’t depending on other transportation to get back home again. You don’t know at forehand when rules might change and it might be best to get back home again.

The Best tip for traveling in 2020

In conclusion there’s a lot more to take into account when traveling in 2020. But the best tip off all and 11th free one I can give you is: make sure you enjoy your travels!

57 Comments

  • Brittany

    Very helpful tips. Thank you for mentioning how things may take a little longer and be understanding of that. As a former waitress, I can say that it’s so important to bring patience, and maybe some snacks, on vacation with you! Do not take your anger and impatience out on the people serving you during a PANDEMIC.

    • Cosette

      No, indeed, but sadly some people are doing just this. Those people are doing there job as good as they can and can’t help all the checks in place.

  • Ashley

    Great post – booking with a refund is so key now. I never used to worry about that but now it’s so necessary. And definitely on the *taking more time.* Things are so different now but it’s easy (and worth it) to make travel work!

    • Cosette

      No, we never worried about it much either, although we always had a cancellation insurance. And yes, although traveling is different right now, it’s worth your time and we loved it still.

    • Cosette

      Yes, we still went, but it seems that being outside (avoiding large crowds) is not the greatest danger, but being inside with more people is. So we avoided that mostly.

    • Cosette

      Staycations and hikes are perfect now. The borders of The Netherlands may not be closed (never where), we’haven’t been outside The Netherlands since February.

  • Nichole the Nomad

    These tips for traveling in 2020 are so helpful! I love the tip about making sure your trip is refundable. We, unfortunately, had a very rude VRBO host who refused to give us our money back for canceling our trip when COVID first became huge in the US.

    • Cosette

      Oh, that’s not great. That host was probably afraid/ or in panic for losing all the bookings/customers, but being rude won’t help in the long term. You want people to come back eventually.

  • Katherine

    Some great tips here! We’ve been doing some short day trips by car that allow us to socially distance and not have to worry about the transport portion. It’s been great.

  • Kelly

    Great tips as we all navigate the new normal and figure out how to travel in the best and safest way possible. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Rachael Brown

    Thank you for the awesome tips. I’m currently exploring my own backyards and getting out into nature to do some hikes in the area. It’s actually been really nice and a great way to social distance. Crazy times we are living in!

  • Devin Held

    Great tips! I started going on road trips late in the summer. Most people followed social distancing rules and such, but some places definitely didn’t. Those crowded places I ran away from! Hand sanitizer has been my life lately :’)

    • Cosette

      Yes, if you notice people aren’t following the social distancing rules you can either complain about it, or just get out of there. Making sure your safe.

  • Heather Markel

    These are excellent tips. I’m intrigued that you are finding things so booked up, since here in New Zealand it’s like being locked in with no tourists and even when locals travel, things are pretty open. I love the considerations you mention, like cooking your own food, and not sharing facilities. Also – did you make your masks? Very lovely!

    • Cosette

      Well, it was Summer school break here, so everybody was going on vacation, and normally this is more spread out over Europe and the rest of the world, now it wasn’t. Next to that people from other countries of Europe were able to vacation in The Netherlands. BUt every vacation stay we were at, was fully booked. A lot of museums and attractions had limited capacity because of the regulations in place, so this combination made for the booked up attractions.

      Someone in our neighbourhood made our masks, so we purchased them from her, to support a local business.

  • Elizabeth

    Great tips! Reserve ahead is a great one. I know in the US a lot of places that don’t typically require or even have reservations usually are reservation only now. Also I agree that it is a great time to do more walking and biking.

  • Emma

    2020 is full of outdoor trips, hands sanitizer and being careful, so I love these tips. Especially the one about leaving if a place is crowded. Everyone has a different comfort level and I for one am trying to avoid big crowds or busy restaurants

  • Anwesha

    Good points. I agree with you that this year, I had be more comfortable in traveling in own car than waiting for buses or other public transports. India is now on second position for Covid patients and I feel it’s just not the best time to travel here.

    • Cosette

      Hope in India the Corona situation will get better soon. I understand you don’t feel like it’s the right time for travel right now. It was like that for us in March and April in The Netherlands, after that it slighlty started getting better.

    • Cosette

      Yes, if your still in complete lockdown it must be very different. We never had a complete lockdown in The Netherlands, only an intelligent lockdown, but a lot of restrictions have been lifted in the last few months. Hope travels will be a lot better in 2021. Good luck in lockdown in Melbourne and hopefully not for long anymore.

  • SHANY

    Great tips! It’s crazy to think about how much everything had change in the last couple of months. There’s a lot of questions when it comes to traveling.

  • Jade

    Great post! I got ‘stuck’ in Romania during all of this, but now that things are open again I still want to go explore. I feel so awkward with my camera, though! Good tips, thanks for sharing!

    • Cosette

      How was ‘stuck’ in Romania during these strange times? And I have the same feeling about exploring, just not about our camera out.

  • Maya

    There’s no doubt we’ll have to adjust ourselves and these are some great tips. Personally I try to do outdoor activities and inside always wear my mask and when a place is too crowded, I’d rather come back at a later time. Thanks for the tips!

    • Cosette

      Yes, the mask wearing seems to be more widespread in every other country. It was never advised here or enforced. Accept for in public transport from July 1st onwards.

  • Anna

    Great tips! Especially ‘Book with a refundable option’ – I’ve been doing that for my travels this year and with the uncertainty of everything and places locking down randomly it’s such a good idea.

    • Cosette

      Yes, those randomly lock downs and a country suddenly going to orange or red in advice. It’s been all over the place this Summer.

  • Helena

    It’s amazing how travel has changed in 2020 but these are all great tips for us all to practice going forward, whether we travel close to home or further afield.

    • Cosette

      Yes, close to home, further away, they still apply. And it is indeed strange, how our planning has changed from our planning for our travels in February this year or the onces in May and July/August.

  • Kelly

    Great tips! Reserving ahead has been the most helpful thing I’ve found this summer for where you can. That way you don’t have to worry about the risk of not being able to get into certain places 🙂

  • Jenn | By Land and Sea

    I’m glad you’ve still been able to do a bit of traveling this year. These tips are great. I think many will last far beyond 2020 in terms of travel!

  • Bettina

    These are really great tips! Navigating the travel space these days is really difficult and I found it super hard to know how to best travel this summer – if at all!

  • Jeff Albom

    These are all good tips for travelling in the current environment. We had just returned from a SE Asia and Australia trip late last year when things started happening. We now follow your travel tips in our daily life. Social distancing, masks, and hygiene are all top priorities. We will probably travel later this year (towards summer down under) but I think we will pick less crowded locations that are a car trip away from our home in New Zealand.

  • Cindy Scott

    These are super useful tips! We’ve been abiding by these as well while staying on the road this year. Setting a few points of understanding in place can help make 2020 travels more enjoyable!

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