Traveling during the pandemic is a personal decision, one that comes with some risks. This article shares practical tips on how to mitigate risks and travel safely during COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world as we knew it, especially when it came to travel. We’re a year into the pandemic now though, and restrictions are starting to ease up now that the vaccines are being distributed. It’s understandable that many people, including myself, are on the move again.
To be clear, I’m not advocating that everyone travel right now. COVID-19 rates are still very high in many parts of the world. However, people will continue to travel now and in the future. With this article, I hope to share the precautions I’ve taken and discuss some ways on how to mitigate the risks and keep yourself – and others – safe while traveling.
Table of Contents
- How to Travel Safely During COVID-19
- What to know about COVID-19 PCR Tests:
- Choose Destinations that Allow You to Socially Distance
- Travel During Off-Peak Periods
- Be Flexible and Expect Delays or Cancellations
- Know Your Travel Rights
- Get COVID Travel Insurance
- Research on Up-to-Date COVID-19 Measures
- Pack Sanitary Items for the Flight
- Expect Extra Checks at the Airport
- Choose Uncrowded Places to Explore
- Rent a Car Instead of Taking Public Transports
- Choose Airbnb and Boutique Hotels
- Tips for When You Get Back Home
- Final Thoughts on Traveling During COVID-19
How to Travel Safely During COVID-19
Traveling during COVID-19 is still a touchy subject. It’s absolutely critical to be thoughtful when it comes to travel right now, and it continues to be a deeply personal decision.
Armed with the right precautions, equipment and mindset, I do think it’s possible to travel safely right now as long as you’re mindful and cautious. You may have seen I took several road trips last year, including a month-long trip around Europe on our camper van. I waited ten months into the pandemic before taking my first flight. Since then, I’ve flown to Curacao in February, Egypt in March and Colombia in May.
Sure, I had plenty of reservations. I questioned whether we ought to travel at all. Given how many lives COVID-19 has taken, I was concerned about our safety, and the safety of others. Making these trips possible involved more research, careful planning and consideration than usual.
Is it Safe to Travel During the Pandemic?
Let’s start by discussing this question that’s on most of our minds: is it safe to travel during the pandemic?
It would be wrong say it’s 100% safe to travel now – there are some risks involved – but I think there’s space for mindful, responsible travel if you take the necessary precautions. If you’ve been vaccinated, the risks will of course be lower. Check out this list of countries open to vaccinated travelers.
It’s also important to realize that every place is different when it comes to the pandemic. The answer to whether or not it’s safe to travel during COVID-19 will vary widely depending on where you’re based, where you’re traveling to and what you intend to do there.
Research Your Destination’s Travel Restrictions
Before you make your decision, look into your destination’s current COVID-19 situation.
Is it a COVID-19 hotspot? Are they allowing non-residents to enter? How are the hospitals coping?
Travel restrictions vary wildly for different destinations and change frequently — some countries may even require mandatory 14-day quarantine that cost upwards of US$2000. Most destinations now require proof of vaccine or negative PCR test results, plus a series of forms to be filled up, printed and carried with you on the trip. Be sure to check your destination’s official health website.
Important COVID-19 travel questions to ask:
Resources for researching COVID-19 travel restrictions by country:
Rent a Car Instead of Taking Public Transports
Masks are typically a requirement on public or shared transport (e.g., flights, trains, buses, etc.). Wearing a mask not only protects yourself from illness, but it also protects the people around you. Even if it’s not a requirement, be sensible and keep a mask on at all times.
Considering renting a car to mitigate the health risks public transportation poses during the pandemic. Private transportation is also a lot more flexible than public transport, too. We almost always rent a car when we travel these days.
Choose Airbnb and Boutique Hotels
Locally-owned businesses have been hit especially hard. Small and family businesses don’t usually have the same resources that big corporate chains do. That’s why you should consider supporting Airbnb, small boutique hotels and family-run restaurants if possible. They also tend to be less crowded than the big chains.
Try to choose accommodations that offer contactless check-in, enhanced cleaning processes, regular sanitization of common areas and a 24-hour wait period before entering a room after guests have left. All these measures keep everyone safe and show how responsible the business is towards their customers.
Tips for When You Get Back Home
After your trip, there’s an extra precaution you should take when returning from a trip during the pandemic: self-quarantine.
Because you’ve exposed yourself to a new environment and different people, it’s a good idea to isolate yourself at home for a few days when you return (even if it’s not a requirement). It’s possible to transmit the virus without showing symptoms, so self-quarantining protects both you and the ones you love.
As soon as you feel symptomatic, take a COVID-19 test and stay at home until you receive the results. Avoid going for walks or grocery shopping. Inform work, school or anyone that you’d been in contact with in the past two weeks.
Final Thoughts on Traveling During COVID-19
Post-pandemic travel is not the same as it was before, and it’s important to remember that. While I’ve decided to steer away from destinations like Pakistan and Brazil (where social distancing is difficult) until the coronavirus is no longer a threat, I feel comfortable traveling to locations where the virus is under control and measures are respected.
Keep in mind that the decision to travel is incredibly personal and complex. It is up to you to make your own decision by calculating the risks involved and considering the many factors at play.
If you do decide to travel during the pandemic, I hope my tips will be useful to you. Leave a comment below if you’ve got any questions on traveling during COVID-19. We’ll be happy to answer them.