The Covid Travel Experience

9 months ago, countries started shutting their borders in response to a spreading pandemic. People got marooned in foreign countries and panic swept the globe, infecting nations with something more sinister than the virus… fear!


The entire travel industry was brought to its knees and travelling anywhere became a political administrative nightmare. All the clearly defined Travel regulations that we used to comfortably navigate became an unknown and very expensive landscape.


There was no protocol in place for something like this and so what ensued was mass confusion, ambiguous and arbitrary restrictions, and even more fear.


Travel Agents pulled together and created support bubbles and slowly started equipping themselves with travel information and understanding the procedures in the ‘new normal’. Repatriations were originally charted by governments but as time went on, it became clear they could not handle the overload of stranded citizens needing support and information, and slowly but surely, the industry started to wake up and jump on the band wagon. It wasn’t long before Airlines and Travel Agents became Repatriation Specialists and were able to confidently navigate the globe, instilling a little bit of confidence in essential travel.


Then, borders started to relax and commercial flights made a comeback, leisure travel started to ease its way back into our minds and the idea of forgetting about all the madness --cocktail in hand on a beach somewhere- once again became an actual possibility. But the Virus of fear has still left scars on people. All the unknowns and ‘what ifs’ have dramatically impacted the global desire to travel.


But knowledge is power and the more we understand the world, the less we will fear it.

With this as the backdrop, I am excited to share my COVID travel experience so that you can be inspired once again to explore this beautiful world.


BEFORE YOU TRAVEL


Before you begin booking your next adventure, get an expert in your corner. There are thousands of incredibly talented and skilled Travel experts out there to choose from. For a small service fee, you will be able to access the most current, up to date destination and airline information that you need to know to ensure you leave no stone unturned. With an expert in your corner, you can ensure that you have on the ground support, someone supervising your entire journey and a direct line of communication should there be any involuntary changes made to your travel.


Travel Specialists have inside industry resources that are a lot more reliable than Google and they are constantly kept up to date with destination and airline changes.




Great! Now that your Travel Specialist has furnished you with entry requirements to your destination and additional requirements for your return. You are able to decide on the destination that suits you best.


Currently there are over 20 countries and Islands around the world that are openly welcoming tourists without any quarantine requirements.


For South Africans

As you will require a COVID test for your re-entry back into South Africa, ensure you pre-book or pre-plan these arrangements so that this will not become a last minute run around. Currently Hotels are partnering with local institutions or freelance Medics to provide these services directly to guests, there are even airports that offer onsite testing so whatever is going to work best for you in your destination, get that booked or planned before you travel.


AT THE AIRPORT


Now the day has come and you are off on your next adventure. Boarding pass or E-ticket in hand, you arrive at the airport equipped with a facemask. Immediately, you notice the airport is not as busy as usual and there are plenty health security offices patrolling the grounds and making sure everyone is keeping a healthy distance.


The Airlines have also equipped themselves and their travellers with an overload of personal protective equipment, making the entire airport and aeroplane experience cleaner than a surgery theatre. You are armed with a face shield that is worn over your facemask and as you pass through security you feel a little like an Astronaut ready to board a flight to space.






You will be health screened as your pass security by getting your temperature taken. You will also be required to complete a Health Declaration questionnaire in order to board the flight. There are no restaurants open in the airport itself but once you clear customs and are waiting to board your flight, you will be able to snack up at the duty free and one or two restaurants operating at limited capacity. Not all airport lounges are open at this stage.

In the waiting terminal, every second seat is demarcated with ribbon to ensure adequate social distancing. At your gate, your temperature will be taken again before being allowed to board the aircraft.


On the aircraft, Airlines have strategically distributed passengers evenly throughout the flight. Unless the plane is very full, you will likely have a seat separating you and another traveller or the entire row to yourself.


Before take-off, you are furnished with a lovely gift pack of PPE, which includes sanitizer, latex gloves and another facemask. You are also continuously reminded by the Air hostesses to wear your shield and facemask at all times between meals.Besides for the additional health protocols, Its Business as usual on your flight, so sit back relax and enjoy the usual on board experience.




ARRIVING IN YOUR DESTINATION


Once offloaded, you will proceed as usual to clear customs. Once again you will notice demarcated social distancing lines in the queue so that travellers maintain a healthy and safe distance. You will also get your temperature taken again on your arrival.


Depending on your destination, you will either be required to present a negative COVID test , a local health declaration /locator form and may also be required to self-quarantine for 10 to 14 days depending on the countries health policy.

If you are just going on a 2 week holiday, it’s probably best to select a destination that does not have the quarantine requirement in place as this could come with additional medical monitoring /testing requirements which will obviously hinder your holiday experience.


If you opt to get a Covid test before you leave, this is completely airline or destination dependent and not a mandatory rule across the board. If you do decide to get one, ensure you get the RT-PCR Test from an accredited medical institution. Also double check that it will be recognized by your destination, some countries may require you to get this test stamped by your local consulate. You Travel expert will keep you well informed if this is the case.


RETURNING HOME


Different destinations have different processing times for the PCR test, it can be as quick as 6 hours or as long as 7 days so make sure that wherever you are getting the test done, you correctly estimate the date you will get these results.


For returning to South Africa, A covid test is required within 72 hours of your return flight. Don’t worry if you are transiting via another country and have a hefty layover. The 72 hours is taken from when you commence from your point of origin.

If you fail to get this test before you return, and are travelling on a South African passport, don’t worry! You will not be denied boarding, however this can become a very costly venture as you may be forced to go into quarantine on your arrival home, at your own expense. For other destinations, failure to produce a COVID test, if required, may mean you are denied boarding at your point of origin. If you manage to make it all the way there and a test is required, or if the authorities have reason to suspect you are high risk, you will be made to take onsite testing and quarantine at a designated facility until your tests are returned and this will also be at your own expense.

It’s safe to say that from now and in the near future, Covid testing is some countries and airlines’ only safety assurance and so it’s best to just factor these arrangements in to your travel plans.


Once you have cleared customs, had your temperature taken again, completed another Health questionnaire and presented your Covid test, you will be free to go home and share the stories of your travel adventures with your friends and family.


To wrap it up, Travel during COVID is not a scary experience, albeit slightly over the top. The Travel Industry has heeded to the call of health departments and risen to the occasion.

The international Air Travel association recently released statistics that showed you have a 1 in 24 million chance of catching Covid while travelling. The most important thing to bear in mind over these unprecedented times is to take the necessary precautions.


No one said Traveling will always be easy, but I promise you, it will always be worth it!



The world awaits….

15 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All