As much as this word is overused, COVID unfortunately is the our “new normal”. I had the opportunity to travel to a few places during this pandemic. Traveling during a pandemic is an absolute personal choice for you and your family that you should make after carefully considering all your personal circumstances. The intent of this post is not to encourage or discourage you from travel. This post is for anyone who wants to travel and may want some help thinking through things.
Things to Consider
What is even open?
Living in America, this question definitely plays a huge part as not many places are open to Americans or people living here. With case counts fluctuating at different times around the world, it is sometimes so difficult to keep track of who is open for tourism vs who is not. I usually refer to this CNN post, which seems to keep up to date with all the places open to Americans around the globe but can also be used as a general guideline for others as well (I’m not American but still find this useful)
Certain countries are open but require everyone coming in to quarantine, either for a set amount of days (usually 10-14) or until the results of a PCR test done at the airport or throughout these 10-14 days come back negative.
Planning is undoubtedly difficult as government responses change so often. I visited Turkey on a whim and booked at the last minute. Monitor prices (Google Flights is best for flights) and cases where you are going.
Most airlines now are flexible with their cancelation policies. Look for airlines that keep the middle seat open and are committed to cleaning the plane before each flight. As for accommodation, look for hotels and accommodation options where you can cancel until the day of arrival. Booking.com usually has lots of flexible options. Try and rent a car if you need to get places once you get to your destination. Avoid public transportation like buses and trains if possible.
Certain places require to show a negative COVID test prior to stepping on their soil. The length of when the test should be taken differs very vastly from country to country. I have seen any where from 24 hours to 5 days. Check on the country’s tourism website at least a week before you go. Some countries may specify a PCR test while others may take either a PCR or rapid test. Double check these requirements and make the necessary arrangements and appointments to get the test done.
Once you have your results, take a picture of it with your phone so that you always have it in case you lose the paper. Some testing places may not email it to you. While writing this post, I read that Egypt is specifically asking for a paper copy of the test results. I have also seen countries ask you to submit the test to them a set time (i.e., 24 hours) prior to your departure through a travel portal or electronic form.
Since some testing places may take up to 5 business days for the results to come, it is important that you match the testing requirements of the country you are going to with the testing procedures of the place you are getting tested from. This is especially true during a major holiday. I traveled during Thanksgiving to the US Virgin Islands and learned this the hard way. Testing places were full due to the holiday and USVI required the test to be within 5 days and it had to be uploaded to a travel portal before 24 hours of travel.
Some countries require you to obtain COVID insurance before travel. The official tourism or state department websites of each country will show these requirements. Some ask for specific dollar amounts.
Even if the country you are visiting does not officially require COVID insurance, you can get insured relatively cheap. This is a personal choice but something I did when I visited Turkey.
Restrictions Coming Back
Understand your countries’/ States’ quarantine restrictions on the way back and monitor for any changes that may have happened while you were out.
The US now required a negative COVID test 24 hours prior to your flight back. These at home, video monitored self tests from eMed have been very convenient! You get your results in 15 minutes along with a certified letter that is sent to your email immediately after the test. HERE is the link (there’s also a 3 pack which is slightly cheaper than the 2 pack).
Make sure you are thinking about finances in case flights are canceled suddenly or you need to quarantine in a hotel.
Let someone know where you are going and your travel dates.
What to Pack when Traveling During a Pandemic
- Antibacterial wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Negative COVID test result (if asked by the country)
- Laptop – I pack my laptop just in case so that I can work from anywhere if needed
- See my regular packing list HERE