Social distancing became one of the most popular phenomena in today’s world. The debate is there if isolation is beneficial for people or causes more harm to them. Social distancing has been implemented as a result of the pandemic spread of coronavirus in most places in the world. Nowadays lockdowns and rules of isolation are becoming less strict across the globe. But do the people actually feel to engage socially as much as before the lockdown? Do they feel to spend a holiday in crowded places? Are they keen to share their free time with strangers? Or just want to rest and relax in the company of friends and family in quiet and calm places, healthy and safe?
The speculations about changes in the way we travel caused by pandemic include a few main points:
- Going private and choosing smaller group holiday, with friends and family rather than unknown people.
- Focusing on health and safety, from both sites, travellers and also tours operators, guides.
- Maintaining social distance and choosing less crowded destinations.
- Flexibility - offers flexible cancellations and refund policies.
SHORT UPDATE ABOUT COVID IN NEPAL
Nepal was hit by Coronavirus with delay. The applied lockdown lasted from the end of March until the middle of July 2020. A number of cases were still high, however, the government lifted up the lockdown due to economic reasons. Nepal has been suffering badly from the effects of lockdown and freezing the tourism market which is the biggest source of a country's income. Currently shops, local transport and services are slowly opening again. International flights are scheduled to restart in the middle of August. But is Nepal a safe place to visit in the nearest future? It depends...
SAFETY OF TRAVELING IN NEPAL
If necessary precautions are maintained, Nepal is as safe as any other country around the world. Travellers holding up to date travel insurance shouldn’t worry. There are a number of hospitals dealing with cases of Coronavirus plus tourist clinics, such as CIWEC HOSPITAL in Kathmandu and Pokhara offer their medical services.
Maintaining social distance, applying necessary health and safety rules and avoiding big gathering places will help to minimalise the possibilities of getting the virus.
Your travel agency will for sure take care of these things by organising smaller vehicles to travel by, regularly cleaning and disinfecting the facilities, offering smaller group treks, choosing places to stay with higher standards of hygiene, employ people who are aware of precautions and symptoms of COVID.
Nepal has been very careful with making decisions of lifting up the lockdown, doing it slowly and in phases. The reason behind it is quite simple. National care and health system are not as easily accessible to all citizens as in other, more developed countries. To avoid COVID to overspread and maintain the number of infected people reasonably low, the government was prolonging the lockdown and has implemented a slow process of easing it.
SMALL GROUP HOLIDAY. WHAT IS IT?
The term 'small group holiday' sounds very simple and may not need future explanation. However, there is a couple of things to be mentioned.
Small group means you will be allocated with a few other people and obviously the guide or tour leader. Because there are only a few people to engage with, there will be a more individual approach and more authentic experience while taking part in activities and exploring places.
The size of the groups depends on the company, destination and activities offered.
BENEFITS OF TRAVELING IN SMALL GROUPS
- New travel experiences
Exploring places and activities with an in-sight approach, while having good guide next to you. Guides know very well where to go, what to show, they usually speak the local language and communicate well. They share knowledge and interesting facts. Being in a small group gives an opportunity to have close communication with the guide and better insight into the culture and tradition of visiting places.
- Comfort and peacefulness
Travelling in the group usually means everything is organised and planned. Safety of participants is the responsibility of the company, so travellers do not need to worry about anything. Also, guides are qualified and trained so they know which places to avoid and how to behave in certain situations.
- Meeting travel fellows
Small group holiday gives a great chance to meet other people who you may continue to travel afterwards or stay close friends.
- Making friends?
Some people may be afraid of travelling with total strangers for the first time. It’s quite clear that the needs and expectations of travellers are different. Here comes the role of tour leaders, who allocate people to the groups according to their age, origin, activity experience etc. It is more likely to find a company within the group rather than a nuisance.
- Paying full fee and having peace of mind
While booking a holiday in the group you pay the fee for it and there is nothing else to worry about. It does not mean the holiday is cheap but it does not require to think about money any more. Except for some small change for personal items or souvenirs.
- More time flexibility and less rushed schedule
Because the size of the group is smaller there is usually better organisation of activities and less tight schedule. The schedule is also flexible and can be changed according to suggestions of travellers and the decision of the guide.
In post-pandemic times safety became very significant. According to tourism experts, safety is the first and most important aspect that is considered by travellers. The fewer people in the group the more individual approach and care. There are more chances care will be provided faster in case of any accidents. Also travelling in smaller vehicles, being allocated in less crowded accommodation, having close interactions with group travellers and guide adds extra safety to the trip.
WHO THE SMALL GROUP HOLIDAYS ARE FOR?
Group holidays are perfect for those who want to have vacation organised from the beginning to the end. It is also for the people who have a certain amount of time allocated for holiday and want the travel to be consolidated and well scheduled. Small group trips are often chosen by solo travellers who want to meet other people and create new relationships. Families also choose small group tours to feel comfortable by staying within the circle of known people. Often two or three families join together for a small group holiday to provide company for themselves and for their kids.
DISCOVERING HIMALAYA IN SMALL GROUP TREKKINGS
COVID has hugely influenced the tourism industry and made significant changes in travel approach. Nevertheless, the opportunities are still there. With maintaining health and safety precautions and being aware of social distancing, travelling is still possible, even to the most hidden places through off beaten paths.
Discovering Himalaya in a small group trek will provide you first of all, with safety and more personalized approach. Secondly will give you an amazing opportunity to meet new people and share experiences. Thirdly, most likely your co-travellers will have similar physical fitness so no need to worry about staying at the back or waiting for others for a long time. Lastly, but probably the most important you will have first-hand information from your guide to extend your knowledge and enrich the experience.
Trekking to hidden and less popular places in the Himalayas such as Mera Peak, Island Peak or Mohare Danda in a small group of people will help smoothly oscillate between solitude and engagement into simple social interactions.
Social distancing and safety precautions nowadays do not mean to stay at home. It means to choose smart, responsible and safe travel options and continue exploring.