The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, but thanks to widespread access to vaccines and a better understanding of the disease, restrictions are easing. Kids are going back to school, some workplaces are re-opening, and people are even beginning to travel again for the pleasure of it, thanks to eased travel restrictions across the U.K. and the world at large. If you haven’t traveled yet during the pandemic, you may be unsure about what the experience will be like. You may also be feeling anxious about how to stay safe and healthy when getting from one place to another.
The smartest thing you can do if you’re planning to travel soon is learn about the most important guidelines and restrictions before you go. This includes rules about air travel, making sure you know the COVID-19 regulations at your destination (and how they might differ from where you live), and also the best ways to stay protected and healthy when you’re not in the safety of your home.
Here’s the most important information you need to know about traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic, which you should make sure you stay on top of before you board a flight and after you take off.
Don’t travel if you think you have COVID-19
The most important thing to remember is that you should not travel if you think you have COVID-19. If you feel under the weather, have a fever, or have knowingly been exposed to someone with COVID-19, make sure you get a COVID-19 test before you fly out. This will help ensure you don’t continue to spread the virus, and also that you don’t end up sick while away from your home, at a vacation destination. Make sure you get a negative COVID-19 test result on the appropriate timeline before you board your flight.
Follow airline restrictions and guidelines for staying safe
All airlines have different restrictions about masks, seating, etc., so make sure you do your research and understand your airline’s COVID-19 guidelines. You’ll probably have to wear a mask the entire time you’re on the airplane (except for brief breaks for eating and drinking), and if you’re traveling with little ones, they will have to be masked up too. Airlines are imposing different rules about baggage, seating, boarding, etc. Make sure you pay attention to what the airline staff and flight attendants say, so you can keep yourself and other passengers safe and healthy while traveling.
Learn about any quarantine rules or regulation at your destination
What you have to do when you land will depend on where you’re flying. Some places are continuing to make visitors quarantine for a certain amount of time after they arrive. Others have no restrictions and allow you to explore immediately. Get online and do your research before you go. You need to plan the timeline of your trip accordingly if there’s a chance you’ll need to be quarantined before you can get out and enjoy your destination. Also, make sure you know the rules and regulations for wherever you’re traveling including things like what types of attractions are open, where you need to wear masks, whether or not restaurants are open, and more. The more prepared you are, the better you can plan.
Be thoughtful around other travelers
You may be vaccinated and feel comfortable — but other travelers might not be. Or they might have health conditions that make traveling feel less safe. Be considerate of other travelers, and wear your mask in public locations. Follow mask mandates and regulations to make sure you’re keeping everyone’s health in mind. It’s still an anxiety-inducing time for most people, so the more considerate you can be of people in your hotel/on your flight/at the airport, etc., the easier and more enjoyable it will be for everyone involved.
Get tested when you get home
As soon as you return home, make sure you arrange for a COVID-19 test to see if you picked up the virus while you were away. Chances are you’ll have been exposed to a lot of people on the journey, and you want to make sure you didn’t pick up any germs. Make sure you quarantine for several days once you’re home, then go to get the test. Getting a COVID-19 test once you are home can ensure that you were safe during the entirety of your trip, despite spending time in an airplane and at an airport or hotel. It can also stop you from spreading virus new variants from one part of the world to another.
Try to relax and enjoy yourself
Whether you’re traveling to a resort, like a luxurious all-inclusive in Barbados, or going to explore a bustling new city, like the Big Apple (New York), it’s helpful to remember that travel is what makes life fun, exciting, and fulfilling. If you’re planning to travel for the first time post-COVID-19, then it makes sense for you to feel nervous — but don’t let the anxiety ruin your trip. By arming yourself with a knowledge of restrictions, guidelines, and how to stay healthy, you can ensure that you enjoy your vacation without any unnecessary stress, and experience a trip with your loved ones that’s fulfilling, enriching, and safe.