IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL DURING COVID-19?
The year 2020 has not gone on as expected. Despite the many uncertainties that lurk, we here at PlanMoreTrips wish to give any potential travelers a guide, so that the future of traveling looks a bit brighter.
We understand that travel may still be essential during this pandemic, and it may be a tough decision to make when the health and safety of your loved ones are at stake.
Follow us along with our intern on her journey across the world to get home, traveling from Boston all the way to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We wish to provide you with all the necessary materials for a safe and stress free trip!
Our series includes: travel restriction guides, planning guides, tips and tricks, and real time footage of what it is like to travel in today’s tumultuous environment, such as the airports, airplanes, landing procedures, and government sanctioned quarantine.
So, welcome to PMT 101! Our introductory class to traveling during a global pandemic! We’re glad to have you.
HOW TO TRAVEL SAFELY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
1. Identify your flight path!
There are many reasons why travel is still essential: you may have a personal or family emergency, you may be a health worker, a refugee, or you may be on a visa. Whatever the reason here are some essential pieces of information you must have before you prepare to fly:
2. Check the restrictions on your destination.
Where you are traveling to will have a great deal of difference in landing procedures, and entry requirements. Some countries, like Japan, have barred non-citizens from entering the country. Other’s only allow travelers from low-risk countries to enter with few restrictions. Some countries require some sort of paperwork before you can even book your flight!
In this list, we have outlined whether travelers will face restrictions entering different countries. What kind of barriers they may encounter at the airport or arrival hall. This includes paperwork, requests for permission, whether a PCP test is required, and the prices and duration of quarantine (in places where it is mandatory).
3. Flights, Flights, Flights!
Because of the sudden drop of travelers, the number of flights have significantly decreased. In some cases, airlines only fly certain routes once every couple of days. Research will be a key component to finding affordable and convenient flights.
An extra bit of information, some countries have implemented pre-boarding procedures. For example, our intern who is traveling to Malaysia has to fill in a Letter of Undertaking, that indicates she is willing to pay the expenses incurred during her government-mandated quarantine. This letter requires a signature from the Malaysian Embassy, it is lucky she was made aware of this requirement, as she wouldn’t have been able to board her flight without itF
4. Check the websites of your embassy at your destination!
While we work to provide the most comprehensive travel guide, it is still essential that you monitor the condition of your destination via your embassy. Embassy websites will provide help for your inquiries, a snapshot of the local restrictions placed on public spaces, and the most up-to-date information on entering the country.
Every country has the right to change entry requirements to their own discretion, often at a moment’s notice!
5. Visa Applications!
Finally, you have booked your flight! The headache of finding and booking your flight is over! Now, we assume that you are already aware of the entry requirements for your destination. Even if your flight is a bit away, it is best to apply for any visas or entry permissions now!
Remember, consulates and embassies are likely running with fewer staff. Processing times are likely to be longer. So, to avoid running into visa issues, plan ahead of time.
What To Pack When Traveling During COVID-19
Now the hardest part is over! The headache of finding and booking flights is done. You presumably have your ticket and visa in hand. So, let’s move to the next part: packing! We know many people find packing to be the hardest part of traveling, well it’s about to get a bit tougher.
Because of the ongoing pandemic, airports have cut their capacity down to limit the total number of passengers and staff that will converge at the same time. As a result, most airports are operating on far fewer people and services. This means few to no food options or shopping options. Most airports only have ATMs, pharmacies, and one or two food options open.
The same can be said about your destination. While you may be able to enter the country, shops may have shorter opening times, limited stock of certain items, or you may not be able to leave quarantine. So, for the sake of a smoother travel experience we suggest you pack all of the necessary items and do not leave it up to chance.
PACKING LIST FOR TRAVEL DURING COVID-19
Our intern who is traveling home is on quite a few prescription medications, because she anticipates being in quarantine for 2 weeks, she is doing her due diligence to bring at least a month’s supply extra with her on her carry on!
We suggest everyone who is on important medications to call their primary care doctors/pharmacists/insurance companies to get an expedited refill of their medication. You cannot predict the healthcare system availability in your destination, so it is better to carry extra medication with you!
P.S: Bringing a paper copy of your prescription will also help!
Masks and PPE!
While the shortage of face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not as bad as it was in March, you should still bring your own gear with you. In many countries PPE is still limited, and you may not get your hands on enough to last your whole trip. They may also cost a pretty penny.
Secondly, many public places and events now require the wearing of masks. You may be fined for not following the rules associated with your destination. So please wear a mask to protect yourself and others!
Hand Sanitizer and Wet Wipes
The way COVID-19 spreads is through water droplets, not the air. Because of that the most common infection avenue is through surfaces. The best way to keep yourself safe is by carrying hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wet wipes so you may clean any surfaces you come in contact with. The virus can survive on surfaces for long periods of time, so it is better safe than sorry!
Most airports have very few food options now, if any! Seeing as a majority of airports no longer accommodates overnight stays, it is best to pack some food to nibble on just in case. A hungry traveller is an angry one!
5. Money, money, money.
Seeing as how navigating your way through the airports, flights and local destination is now considerably harder than usual, it’s best to bring some cash on hand. Bring your local currency, and the currency at the destination. Not all countries accept cards as widely as the United States, and you really don’t want to be stranded with no cash. Also, it’s a good idea to keep a substantial amount of money in your bank account! Some countries require you to have a certain amount of money to enter the country, as it ensures that you do not run out during your time there, and that you have the means to pay for the quarantine facility and COVID tests.