Whew, what a year it’s been! Just a few months into 2020, and the entire world was impacted by drastic events that will go down in history. When the news broke of the virus quickly spreading in China late last year, we never imagined that the World Health Organization (WHO) would declare the virus as a pandemic, COVID-19 pandemic. And for those of us with great air travel plans heading to popular destinations for the spring and summer, we were certainly in shock. Borders immediately closed around the world, flights were cancelled, refunds were issued from airlines, trains, cruise ships and most of the world went into a complete lockdown. The travel and tourism industry literally shut down for business.
After two months of confinement for many people around the world, people are beginning to see the light after the tunnel now that countries are determining the reopening date to open travel companies, hotels restaurants, and borders around the world. But the world and global travel as we once knew it will never be the same.
Local and international airports (any air transport), airlines, taxes and tourism companies are making drastic enhancements to adhere to strict health and safety protocols to ensure the spread of the virus does not continue. So as you prepare your upcoming travels, it’s important to understand the safety precautions that will allow you to enjoy your international travels and move abroad.
Here are some tips to stay safe when traveling post-pandemic:
Coronavirus Test before Traveling
Before you plan international travel, you need to understand your personal health situation so that you can reassure the airport officials and arriving country that you are free of the virus or don't continue the spread of COVID19.
While many countries are offering the SARS-CoV-2 test at the airport before entering the arrival country, some may not have the test available, so it’s good to take extra precaution and be aware of your health status. One way to be assured is to also have a copy of your medical history and necessary paperwork on hand when you travel in case authorities ask.
Leading up to your air travel, practice social distancing and avoid close contact with anyone infected or recovering from COVID-19 or reduce exposure in busy and heavily populated places to reduce your chances of catching the virus before your travels.
Pack Safety Gear: Wear Masks, Gloves and Sanitizer
Before the pandemic, you could easily find packing tips from travel and tourism bloggers around the world, but now you need to add a few items to the list to be safe for your upcoming travels abroad.
Airports, airlines and cruise ships can only do so much to protect you from the COVID19 pandemic, so take responsibility to protect yourself throughout your travels.
Wear a Face Mask
Wear an approved face mask that covers your nose and mouth to avoid any germs and spread of the coronavirus when you’re in public places. In some countries, it’s required to wear masks, so it’s important to know what the local regulations are to ensure you’re in compliance and don’t encounter any issues or challenges throughout your travels.
You can find disposable surgical masks, washable cloth face masks and even N95 face masks with filters in certain locations; however, they are mostly reserved for medical professionals. As you’re packing, stay on the safe side and pack a few face masks for your protection throughout your trip. Don't forget to actually wear masks during your travels!
Wear Latex Gloves
While it may not be necessary or practiced in many countries, wearing latex gloves is required in other countries. Know what is required for travel for health and safety before your weekend getaway so you are well prepared.
Latex gloves, when worn and used properly, can help avoid the spread of germs. The key to wearing gloves throughout travel is to make sure you aren’t touching your face, personal belongings (like your cellphone) while wearing the gloves.
You can pick up a box of disposable latex gloves in a local pharmacy or online store. When you have finished using the gloves, be sure to remove them without touching your hands and dispose of them properly. Once you remove the gloves, use hand sanitizer or head to a washroom to rid your hands of any germs.
Buy Hand Sanitizer or Wipes
Getting in a taxi, heading to the airport, passing through security and arriving in a new country, you’ll notice that you won’t always have access to a bathroom to wash your hands. That’s why you need to make sure to pack hand sanitizer or wipes with you to disinfect your hands while you’re traveling abroad.
It’s a good practice to regularly wash your hands throughout the day, especially after shaking hands with people, using the restroom or being outside. These general health practices will reduce the risk of getting sick or getting the coronavirus that has impacted more than 8.24M people around the world.
Practice Social Distancing
Whether you wear a mask, sanitize your hands non stop throughout travel, it’s best to also adhere to the fundamental guidelines that have been put in place. Maintain a safe distance of at least two meters between yourself and other persons.
In addition to personal distance, also try to avoid using other people’s belongings as much as possible, and as much as you can, make sure that you are in line with all precautionary safety measures to guarantee your safety while you explore the world.
Coronavirus Border Restrictions
Just as quickly as the pandemic has spread from country to country, rules and regulations have changed allowing international or cross-border travel. Rules and regulations have changed so rapidly, that it’s difficult to keep track of which countries have open borders, partially opened borders, and require a 14-day self quarantine (depending on which country you are arriving from).
As you consider traveling or moving abroad, be sure to fully understand the rules and regulations that exist at the time of booking and what changes will reflect upon the travel and arrival date in the arriving country.
Open, Partially Open and Closed Borders
Now that you’re planning local or international travel, it’s imperative that you know which country borders are open, partially opened or completely closed (and to whom). But as information changes on a daily basis, you need to make sure that your travel destination has opened borders or at least partially opened borders that allow you to travel to that country without negatively impacting your air travel experience.
As global travelers, conduct thorough research from government sites, cruise ships or the airline directly to know the exact date when borders will open and whether you have all the necessary paperwork and understand the destination country’s regulations upon arriving.
Here are a list of sites that have a list of open, partially open and closed borders due to the pandemic:
- Re-open EU – new web platform to help travellers and tourists
- Interactive Coronavirus (Covid-19) Travel Regulations Map by Timatic
The data captured on the interactive map by Timatic is compiled by the International Air Transport Association and is only provided during the COVID19 pandemic crisis as a service to the industry.
So before you book your travel plans, be 100% sure that your air transport travel arrangements won’t be impacted by the travel restrictions in your home country, airline or arrival country -- and also be prepared to self quarantine, if it’s required by the destination country to ensure there is no further spread of the virus. Because in the end, we need to protect our family, friends and neighbors around the world.
Visa Application Center Openings
At the beginning of the lockdowns around the world, visa application centers took notice and closed their offices to protect their employees and halted the visa application process for thousands of people around the world.
So as you gather your immigration paperwork and documentation to ramp up your plans to move abroad, here’s the updates from visa application centers around the world:
When you are ready to move forward with your move abroad, you can use our interactive moving abroad checklist, also known as our expat moving platform that will guide you through the process of relocating overseas.
Stay Safe and Protect yourself from the Coronavirus
Moving forward, as we prepare to take the first steps to normalcy, it’s important to not panic. Be precautious, plan health and safety steps in advance and keep your social distance. Whether you are traveling for vacation, moving abroad or returning to your home country, we wish you a safe bon voyage!