While we are, hopefully, nearing the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries still have a number of safety precautions and requirements in place for tourists and citizens alike. Preparing for international travel can be stressful without a pandemic added to the mix.
I’ve taken a few international trips since 2020, and have compiled the lessons I’ve learned in this post. Keep reading to learn how to prepare yourself and make your trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible!
1. Get Vaccinated as Soon as Possible
If you’re not already vaccinated, it’s time to do so. However, travel shouldn’t be your only incentive to get vaccinated; it’s not only essential for protecting yourself, but also for the safety of the people you come into contact with, such as your friends, family, and even strangers on the street.
Especially with the more contagious strains, it's important to ensure you are stopping the spread. However, with that aside, many countries are requiring that travelers be vaccinated in order to enter.
2. Research the Country’s Vaccine, COVID-19 Testing, and Documentation Requirements
Not only are countries requiring travelers to be vaccinated, but some countries are also requiring travelers to have a particular type of vaccine before they’re allowed to enter. You may also be required to show proof of your vaccination or test negative before entering. While these requirements may seem stringent, they’re crucial for mitigating the virus' spread.
In addition, while many countries require that travelers are fully vaccinated, some may also require that you've received a booster shot if you are eligible. It can’t be overstated how crucial it is to spend the time thoroughly researching a country’s vaccine and test requirements ahead of your trip. Otherwise, you risk being turned away at the airport or being barred from entering the country.
There’s a lot of information out there, and it’s hard to always know what’s the right information and what’s fully up to date. To ensure you’re getting the correct information, you can contact the embassy of the country you’re planning to travel to. You can also check their foreign affairs, department of health, and tourism board websites, or even the website of the airline you’re flying with.
3. Buy Travel Insurance and Travel Health Insurance
Finding coverage that covers your flight or tour if it’s canceled is vital for protecting the resources you've invested in your trip. With the unpredictability of the pandemic, it’s possible that you find yourself in another lockdown when you intend to be on a flight to another country. Therefore, you want to ensure you will not be losing thousands of dollars to something that’s out of your control.
Additionally, travel health insurance is critical in the event you or someone you’re traveling with gets COVID-19 in another country and needs medical care. In fact, some countries are now requiring that you show proof of insurance or else you won’t be permitted on the plane!
4. Closely Monitor the Visa and Border Situation of the Country
While this is beginning to change, many countries currently have closed borders or borders that are only open to certain countries or certain types of travelers, such as diplomats, business travelers, or students. Some countries may even have closed land borders but allow you to enter through specific airports. Keep a close watch on whether borders are closing and whether you’ll be able to enter as you planned for, as things can change quickly.
For example, a visa holder who has been issued their visa weeks before their travel could later find that all tourist visas have been canceled due to a sudden surge in the virus in their country or even your own (all the more reason to get vaccinated!).
5. Be Flexible on Your Trip
One of the best things you can do when traveling during the pandemic is to be as flexible as possible. When booking your flights, you should assume that there is a strong chance the dates will have to be changed if there is a virus outbreak in your country or in the country you are planning on traveling to.
Additionally, keep in mind that famous attractions or events may be closed due to the pandemic, or operating in a limited capacity. It’s important to be flexible in case your original plans are disrupted.
Consider adding flexibility to your trip by taking more time off of work that you think you may need. You may want to try to see if your employer will allow you to continue to work on your vacation, even if only on a part-time basis. This way, you’re able to take longer than you may need in the event something goes wrong, like needing to quarantine or getting the virus.
Thanks for Reading; Happy Traveling!
Thanks for reading; I’m Altagracia, a lawyer based in NYC, but you won’t find me writing about business or legal issues here. The Way I See It is a blog about parenting, life in NYC, traveling, and so much more.
This is the first blog in a series of four posts based on my recent trip to Europe and North Africa. Don’t miss the next post; sign up for my email list today to stay in the loop, and don’t forget to check me out on Instagram!