Flights are starting to open back up, following what is probably my longest stint without travel in the past 5 years. So I took a short trip, to the beautiful country of Sweden. In doing so I learned a few things that I wanted to pass along to anyone who may be travelling or thinking of travelling, in the coming weeks and months. First off, it’s important to say that right now, travel is only recommended as a necessity and I am by no means an authority on Covid regulations. Nor do I claim to know the regulations of all the countries in the world including the one in which you reside.
That said, I have witnessed the fear and anxiety felt by the threat of being infected, and infecting others. I have also experienced friends breaking down and severely struggle with their mental health during the lock down/isolation period. I would recommend being fully sure of what your limits are, where your comfort levels lie, and what the policies are in your area. [I have a blog post about travelling within your own country too!]
Now lets get into it!
Do your research –
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it can actually be difficult in some cases to find definitive guidelines on what the regulations are.
- Look into who is allowed into the country that your visiting, what documents or proof you may need and how best to present it. Also be aware of the regulations of any countries you may pass in transit to your destination. Some places are open, some also have specific rules on where you can and cannot have visited prior to crossing the border. Kayak have a handy guide on each country.
- Look into the regulations on being allowed back into your country of residence. Some may require (like the UK) a 14 day quarantine after travel. So be sure to weigh that up prior to your trip. UK residents can take a look at what the quarantine exemption countries are.
- Be sure to check out what the current policies are in the country or area you’re visiting. Do they require masks? Are clubs open? How may people can gather? etc. It’s important to know what you’re getting yourself in for. Don’t visit a laid back country if you’re anxious, don’t visit a strict country if you want to party. Don’t visit the 2 girls 1 cup website if you value ever sleeping again (sorry, not kink shaming – do yo’ thang).
Stay for the Incubation –
So one of the key things about Covid is the lengthy incubation period. I could have it and be strutting my stuff on the streets of Paris, kissing cheeks and licking baguettes (normal French stuff right?) for almost 2 weeks without even knowing I’ve been infecting everyone.
In general in England, I don’t sit in a small metal structure without windows alongside 100+ other people on a daily basis. I imagine most don’t. So the act of flying, complete with the airport process as well as transport to and from the airport, is probably the most un-socially distanced thing you’ll be doing that month. Meaning you’re the most likely to catch or spread a virus during that time. A good way to be sure you don’t have it, is to leave 14 days in between your flights. Then if you’re not showing symptoms you can fly back a little more assured, and self isolate at home after the flight should you wish to (or have to).
Ways to be safe and still enjoy the destination –
If you’re not comfortable going to shopping centers, restaurants, museums, bars and other typical tourist activities. There are still plenty of other outdoor, socially distanced activities that you can do in your destination that can keep you safe and Covid-free. Ofcourse if you don’t hire a car, you will probably have to rely on public transport, but I’ll leave that for you to figure out.
- Camping – The fresh outdoors. A tent. All the nature you can handle. It’s no secret that I love camping – especially in countries where you can wild camp. But whether you’re a fan or not, now could be a great time to give it a try.
- Hiking – A lot of us are probably feeling a little stagnant and out of shape if we’ve had to stay indoors over the past few months. So hiking could be a great opportunity to get active, experience nature and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city life.
- Boat Trips – I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t know much about renting or owning a boat, but I imagine you could be pretty covid-safe out in the open waters. Just watch out for pirates, jellyfish, and any of the Always Sunny in Philadelphia cast (because of ‘the implication’).
- Van Trips – Now could be the best time to go on a road trip, or better yet a van trip! You can drive around, maybe visit some national parks, secluded beaches, botanical gardens or outdoor tourist monuments that you’ve never seen before. Europe has some great places to visit, some of which I visited on my own van trip.
Choose your seat –
Depending on the airline, you can usually choose what seat you sit in. Some cost more than others. Some are so expensive that you’re guaranteed to be socially distanced anyway. That said, I won’t be flying 1st class anytime soon, especially after my brief study into the carbon footprint of flying, but I digress.
Before my flight I kept track of who was sitting where, and made sure to only choose a window seat with 2 empty seats next to me. If someone took one of those seats, I just changed to a different one. Ofcourse as flights get more and more busy this may not be possible, but at least you can make every attempt to choose a seat with as few people nearby as possible.
Get a thermometer and a mask –
One of the known symptoms (alongside loss of taste/smell, a dry cough and fatigue) is a fever. Most airlines may take your temperature or request that you do so yourself. Either way, it’s useful to have a thermometer handy to be sure that you’re not running a high temperature.
It’s also important to make sure you have a mask, whether it’s mandatory or not. I won’t get into the science or my own beliefs on this, but chances are if you’re travelling from one country to another, you’re going to need a mask. So to be ahead of the game, pick yourself one up. Worst case scenario, you have something that can be used for your next Halloween costume. I suspect Halloween 2020 will just be people going door to door asking for hand sanitiser.
That’s all I have for you friends. I’ve already started on some 2021 travel planning and with a little bit of luck things will be a lot safer by then.
Stay safe and I’ll catch you next time!