Covid has changed the world in so many ways. Travelling has become one of the biggest challenges for many. Mark Bibby Jackson from TravelBeginsAt40.com shares with us how we can stay safe on our next foreign holiday.
Pandemic restrictions are easing in many parts of the world but remember that Covid is not yet in our rear-view mirror. If you are among those keen to go abroad, please do your research diligently. The age of your children may mean different rules apply to them in different countries, or even regions of the same country: for example, rules have been slightly different in mainland Portugal, Madeira and the Azores.
While entry requirements are important, the health of you and your family will be your priority, and the reality is that you are more likely to become infected in certain parts of the world than others. Please carry out some research on the rate of infection in the country you are considering visiting and whether this is rising or declining. Worldometer has kept track of Covid throughout the pandemic, and you can access data for each country at worldometers.info/coronavirus.
Here are a few more tips to help you stay safe:
Take Care While Travelling
While data taken last year indicated the risk of catching Covid on a plane was minimal it is sensible to take precautions. Wear masks throughout your flight and while at the airport. Maintain sensible social distancing measures where possible, especially when queuing. Take your time and give people space. After all, you are on holiday so why not start to relax as soon as possible.
If you can, avoid crowded transport on your way to and from the airport. Normally, I am a strong advocate of using public transport wherever possible, but last year on two trips to Switzerland I chose to drive to Heathrow and then leave my car there. I didn’t even have to take the airport shuttle. It might cost a bit extra, but the added peace of mind means it is money well spent.
Take Care Booking Your Accommodation
At heart, I am still a backpacker. I cherish the sensation of arriving at a destination without pre-booked accommodation and usually pick local accommodation almost at random. Sadly, I won’t be doing this for a while: I want to be sure that where I am staying has taken all the necessary cleaning and hygiene steps. Most hotels have introduced stringent hygiene regulations to counteract Covid. These can easily be found on their websites, or you can enquire via email. Currently, accommodation providers around the world are crying out for customers, ensure that those you book with have done all they can to minimise the risk of the spread of Covid on their property.
Take Sensible Precautions
Although part of the appeal of travelling is to get away from your normal routine, during a pandemic it makes sense to take with you some of your everyday precautions. Wear a mask whenever you are in public spaces, transport, restaurants, bars etc. I spent many years in Asia where mask-wearing has become commonplace to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases. I firmly believe that if mask-wearing had been made compulsory earlier then the spread of Covid would have been less virulent. Pack sufficient masks with you for your travel, as well as antiseptic wipes and hand sanitisers. Wash your hands carefully before and after you visit any place. Eat healthily. The same golden rules that have protected you during the last 18 months of the pandemic will also keep you safe on your travels.
Avoid The Crowds
None of the above is more important than avoiding close contact with people. Studies indicate that space is the number one way of stopping the spread of Covid. I was fortunate enough to visit Switzerland last summer. I could not have felt safer walking in the mountains breathing in that wonderful Alpine air. Nobody has contracted Covid by trekking in the mountains away from other humans.
Walk or cycle as much as possible while on holiday. Not only does this limit the chances of you contracting Covid, but it is also good for you. An early study from China indicated that Covid was more easily spread in confined air-conditioned rooms than outdoors. So wherever possible choose to dine al fresco – barbecue on the beach or picnic in the mountains – and if indoors, seek places that are well-ventilated and have stringent Covid regulations. Perhaps now is not the time to visit crowded museums and galleries?
Insure Against All Eventualities
Unfortunately, however careful you are in planning your trip you cannot foresee all circumstances, which is where travel insurance comes in. Make sure that your holiday is protected against Covid. I recommend Battleface Insurance. Check that your insurance covers both evacuation and repatriation, and do ensure that you are covered for treatment at an international standard hospital. If your destination of choice lacks such facilities, then perhaps you should reconsider your trip. When travelling in Europe the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) will not cover all scenarios, so make sure you bolster this with appropriate travel insurance.
Get Vaccinated Against Covid
Ensure you are fully vaccinated before you travel. For both your own health and those around you, please ensure that you have been inoculated against Covid at least 14 days before you travel. Some people are not eligible for vaccination. In which case, there are certain precautions they – and everyone else – should take to ensure their travel is safe.
Do remember that being vaccinated may also influence where you can travel to; many countries are basing their rules around those who have or have not been vaccinated.
About The Author
Mark Bibby Jackson is passionate about travel and sharing the joys of visiting new places and people. He is the founder and group editor of websites Travel Begins at 40 and London Begins at 40, as well as the award-winning author of three thrillers set in Cambodia. He is the former editor of AsiaLIFE Cambodia, ASEAN Forum and Horizon Thailand magazines.