How safe are these recreational activities?

Published August 3, 2020, 7:25 PM

by Vianca Gamboa

Activities you can enjoy when leisure travel reopens, and those you should avoid like the plague.

Illustration by Ariana Maralit

As you scan through the long list of your pre-pandemic plans, you will find a fraction of them has got to go. Banned or not, they may not be reasonably safe anymore.

We’re not saying you can’t go on a vacation when leisure travel reopens because you will get sick, but you will have to sharpen your nitpicky edge, practice asking questions, and do a lot of research before you nosedive into your chosen destination. For a start, you have to know which recreational activities are safe, and which ones impose higher risk. 

Beach getaway and water activities
Water sports such as snorkeling, canoeing, water rafting, and scuba diving are great reduced-contact activities. The only thing between you and the water is *that* rental equipment in question, but anything done on the beach that are therapeutic and solitary—they have to go hand in hand—should be fine. 

Going on a private guided tour of an island is another upcoming trend as predicted by The Philippine Travel Survey Report 2020, conducted by The Department of Tourism and A Guide to the Philippines. A tour operator will customize your itinerary with risk mitigation in mind and provide you with a schedule that doesn’t coincide with any other travelers’. 

Where to go: Palawan will be the first to welcome tourists when travel restrictions are lifted as province officials have been propping up the island for optimum safety. 

Hotel and resort staycations
Staycations are an in-demand and relaxing alternative to home confinement, that’s why travelers are eyeing hotels and resorts when leisure travel reopens. A lot of hotel chains have been formulating their own strategic policies like contactless transactions and social distancing measures in addition to extensive cleaning across every area of concern. 

Be wary of what Forbes calls “self-serving recommendations” from hotels and travel establishments at the expense of customers. We fall prey to press releases that sound slick enough at a mention of the word “sanitized,” too, but during these times it’s best to read the fine print: How are they handling my food? How about the key card I’m going to use? What about the cleaning history of my room?

Where to go: Marriott Bonvoy has partnered with in-house and outside experts in food and water safety, hygiene and infection prevention, and hotel operations for the highest hospitality standard. It is also rolling out enhanced technologies including electrostatic sprayers to sanitize surfaces throughout its hotels.

Marriott Bonvoy launches Global Cleanliness Council

Outdoor activities
A lot of outdoor activities are relatively safe as long as they are done alone. Camping outdoors, for example, may look okay, but with shared bathrooms and toilets, it probably isn’t. Biking, although it may involve a lot of coughing and sweating, is one of the safest ways to get around, but joining clusters is risky. Hiking should also be avoided at peak hours just when the sun is about to set to maintain social distancing.

Mount Pulag, Benguet | Dale de Vera via Unsplash

Where to go: Subic is really strict with biking and trail activities, so you can expect a safe environment. Backpacking in un-touristy places should also be a new travel hobby as it ensures reduced-contact from other travelers. There are a lot of local places left unexplored and it’s up to you to find them.

Commercial flights and international travel
Reports in the early phase of the pandemic confirmed that the chance of getting infected onboard a plane is slim. In Bloomberg’s interview with David Powell, a physician and medical adviser to the International Air Transport Association, he said the viral risk that rests on an aircraft doesn’t come from its 99.97 percent cleaner supplied air, but from physical contact with other people. This shouldn’t worry you at all since airlines have already established a general set of measures to regulate passengers and overall operations. 

What should concern you, however, is the status of the country you’re traveling to. With information in our hands, it’s easy to know which countries are Covid-free and are already accepting foreign travelers. 

Where to go: There’s no other way to put it—reconsider the need to travel internationally until the pandemic in the Philippines has died down. If you must, we have a list of foreign countries that have reopened borders to tourists.

Going to concerts, cinemas, conventions
Next time you plan your next shenanigan, remember the Cs—as in culprits of crowd exposure, though that’s just something we tried to summarize for one piece of sensible advice. These activities, especially a football sport event or that indie rock fest you’ve been meaning to go to, are deemed unsafe even with the right measures because people in large numbers move beyond their consciousness and control. You’re armed with a mask, eye shield, and all, but your concert buddy Mika here, a moshing, breathing irresponsible decision, could be harboring the virus for days now. 

Where to go: Nowhere. Just stay at home and read a book or catch a concert on YouTube.