How We’re Adapting Atlas Obscura Trips to COVID-19 - Atlas Obscura
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How We’re Adapting Atlas Obscura Trips to COVID-19

In response to COVID-19, we’ve worked with the experienced team of travel-safety advisors at Global Rescue, as well as our network of health and travel experts, to overhaul our trip operations. The result is the following guide, which outlines the ways we’ve adapted our trip operations to protect the health and safety of our travelers, staff, and the communities we visit.

Updated: August 28, 2020

What Our Team Is Doing

Staying Informed

As we plan for upcoming trips, we continually audit the prevalence of COVID-19 in the destinations we visit as well as the places our travelers are coming from. We also take into account local and international orders and restrictions, local health department responses, entry and exit requirements, and other developments that might impact travel or the trip experience. We use this information and the guidance of Global Rescue to determine whether or not to run a trip, and how we need to prepare to provide a smooth travel experience should our expert advisors decide it’s safe to move forward. 

Updating Our Policies

We’ve modified our cancellation policy to give travelers additional flexibility if they ultimately decide it’s not the best time to proceed with their travel plans. Now, at any point prior to making a final trip payment, travelers booked on a 2020 or 2021 trip can transfer their deposit to any future Atlas Obscura trip taking place before the end of 2022. With travel guidelines changing rapidly, we’ve also updated our payment timeline so final payment is now due 60 days prior to departure instead of the standard 90 days, on most departures. As always, if we cancel your trip for any reason, you’ll receive a full refund of all payments made to Atlas Obscura, or you can apply your payment as a credit towards a future trip with us.

Communicating with Travelers

We’re keeping our travelers in the loop about what we’re doing to help them stay safe during their trip and how we’re making sure their experience with us is meaningful and enjoyable. In addition to sharing relevant updates with our travelers, we’re also communicating our expectations with regard to health and safety, offering COVID-related guidance (such as how to prepare and what to pack), and directing travelers to appropriate third-party resources.

Adapting Our Programming

We’re adapting our existing trips and vetting hotels, transportation providers, outfitters, and others we work with in the field based on physical distancing, cleaning, and disinfecting best practices. This may mean moving an activity outside, arranging for larger or multiple vehicles, breaking into smaller groups for a short indoor tour, and more. Looking forward, we’re designing new trips that meet these standards, and we’re excited to offer more options for self-led, self-drive, and private trips.

Adapting Our Leader Training

To make sure our trip leaders are up-to-date on COVID-related protocols and ready to take good care of travelers during this challenging time, we’re adapting our leader training and providing our leaders with plenty of support resources. 

Ensuring Contingencies Are in Place

If at any point during a trip a traveler does not feel well or notices any sign of illness, they can contact our partners at Global Rescue directly. Global Rescue offers remote assistance 24/7, can advise on necessary steps and precautions, and can help arrange in-person local care at vetted medical facilities. 


We recognize that this situation is unprecedented and evolving quickly, and we’ll be reassessing these guidelines on an ongoing basis and making adjustments as needed.

What We Ask of Our Travelers

The overall safety and wellbeing of everyone involved in our trips will rely on the conscious behavior of our travelers. We ask that all travelers join us in committing to responsible travel by actively doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Agreeing to Traveler Guidelines 

For the safety and comfort of our travelers, trip staff, and the communities we visit, we require all travelers to agree to follow certain guidelines related to COVID-19 safety while traveling with us. For a complete list of guidelines, please contact us at

Pre-Trip Testing

Depending on the trip type, duration, scheduled activities, and group size, pre-trip self-isolation and COVID testing may be recommended or required.

Coming Prepared

We provide pre-trip guidance to travelers and ask that they join the trip with items such as alcohol-based hand sanitizer, cloth face coverings, soap, paper, and a personal thermometer.

Following On-Trip Protocols

  • Keep six feet of physical distance from others
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public
  • Clean hands often 
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Monitor temperature daily
  • Stay in if feeling unwell
  • For guided trips: Communicate with trip leader(s) with any questions or concerns

After Travel

Many local guidelines call for self-isolating and monitoring symptoms for 14 days after travel outside their state or country of residence. Travelers should follow local guidance upon return for their trip. We also ask that travelers inform us should they become ill with COVID symptoms or receive a positive test result within two weeks of our trip’s end date so we can inform other travelers (without disclosing identity) and share resources with recommendations for appropriate action.

What Our On-Trip Staff Is Doing

In addition to following the above guidelines and supporting the on-trip experience of our travelers, leaders on our guided trips help travelers stay safe and healthy by:

Carrying Supplies

Don’t fret if the strap on your mask breaks or you leave your hand sanitizer in your hotel room. Leaders on our guided group trips travel with a supply of cleaning and disinfecting products, paper products, soap and hand sanitizer, face coverings, a contactless thermometer, and contingency supplies (such as snacks and water) in case they’re needed. 

Helping Facilitate Healthy Trips

Our leaders support COVID-safe behaviors by reminding travelers of health and safety best practices and modeling safe behavior throughout the trip.

Adapting the On-Trip Experience

In addition to staying informed on best practices to stay healthy during the pandemic and coming prepared to provide support to travelers, our trip leaders are actively adapting the on-the-ground experience to allow for physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and other precautions.