It’s been a strange year to say the least. Here at TransferGo, we go from wanting to restart 2020 (denial) to deciding to make the most of what’s left of summer (acceptance). And we’re the lucky ones. If you, like us, are also fortunate, you might be considering a vacation and wondering how you can travel abroad safely amidst the chaos and complexities of the Covid-19 pandemic.
From contradicting advice to ever-changing entry requirements—and second-wave worries to tourist-enticing pleas from economists—it’s hard to know what exactly is being asked of us right now.
But fear not—there are plenty of ways to travel abroad safely and easily in 2020, while adhering to the rules. It’s just a matter of knowing how. Here’s everything you’ll need to consider when taking a holiday abroad this summer.
Before you book
Check with your government
There are Covid peaks and border closures popping up all over the place right now. And it’s hard to predict what will happen next. So, before you do anything, check your government’s website for travel advice. Check with your destination’s government, too. Make sure you’re comfortable with the rules they have in place and that what you’re looking for will actually be open when you visit.
If you’re UK-based, this Foreign Travel Advice page is particularly useful, listing countries alphabetically and updating every country’s travel page whenever anything new happens. And you can even subscribe to their email updates (we have). They also provide advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office which, if ignored when booking, can render null and void any travel insurance policy you take out. Which brings us to our next point.
Covid or no Covid, you should always get travel insurance before travelling abroad. But at the moment, it comes in particularly handy if you find yourself the victim of hotel or flight cancellations, or even Covid itself, and need to spend money on travel solutions or healthcare. Claiming on insurance may not work though, depending on whether or not you adhered to your government’s advice at the time of booking.
And there are other ways you can be caught out, too—so, whatever you do, read all the terms and conditions of your travel plans thoroughly before deciding and keep an ear to the ground for any policy changes.
Look at the map
The travel website Kayak has a great map of travel restrictions across the globe. With every country colour-coded, it’s super easy to check at a glance where a good holiday destination could be. Just look at the greens and steer clear of the reds.
It shows you the countries whose borders are open without restrictions, partially open, opening soon and completely closed. This is particularly useful for taking a quick glance to rule out any destinations you may have in mind.
Bear in mind, though, that countries without restrictions may still turn you away or impose quarantine if you test positive for Covid—and even if you don’t. Meanwhile, partially-open countries may only let in people travelling from certain countries, based not on your nationality but on where your journey began. This makes multi-country trips especially tricky—so stick to one destination to keep it simple.
Read the stats
It’s also advisable to check the news daily and read the current stats on the prevalence of coronavirus in different countries. The BBC and The Guardian tend to provide regular news reports, like this one from the end of July, showing Covid in numbers.
Do healthcare research
Many countries are opening up now, keen to rescue their economies after a terrible season. But do your research—check out the healthcare situation. Do they have good infrastructure? Are there hospitals near where you’re thinking of staying? What’s the cost of healthcare there? Will you be able to communicate with the doctors if they don’t speak your language?
While it’s good to help support small economies in these troubling times, choose a country you feel safe in.
Buy a mask
Any kind of transport now requires you to wear a face mask covering your mouth and nose. Though more and more retailers are selling masks, buy one in plenty of time to allow for shortages or postage delays. There are some beautiful ones out there, too—just check out Custard Cloth and Newt.
From booking to boarding
Take a small bag
Travelling by plane? Some airlines have now banned cabin bags in the overhead compartments. This means you take on board only what can fit under the seat in front of you. Any other baggage goes in the hold. So don’t forget to keep your mask in your hand luggage. You’ll need to wear it from the second you step into the airport and throughout your flight!
Pack a thermometer
Take an electronic thermometer with you on your travels—it’s an easy way to check if you’re Covid-free while you’re away. There are often temperature checks in airports and in some major train stations anyway, but it’s always good to know beforehand that you’re not running a fever. If you are, stay put—don’t travel!
Check your emails
Most airlines contact customers by email with any cancellations or changes to their schedule. So if you’re flying, check your emails regularly in the days before you’re due to fly. And if your flight is cancelled, the faster you request a refund, the faster you may be reimbursed when airlines (eventually) get round to processing refunds.
Keep your contact with other travellers to a minimum. Once you’re in the airport, train station or coach station, put your mask on and head straight to where you need to be. Be prepared to queue, as things take longer than usual with all the social distancing measures that are in place. So don’t leave it to the last minute to run to your gate! And remember: keep your distance.
Now take care
It sounds obvious, right? But, while some countries may be taking all the precautions when it comes to preventing the spread of coronavirus, others may have a more blasé attitude towards safety. Protect yourself as much as possible, despite what people around you are doing. The last thing you want is a mandatory 14-day quarantine when you get home! Many European countries, like Italy and Spain, are requiring people to wear masks in all indoor public places. This includes shops and restaurants (when not at your table).
Another obvious one—but important nonetheless. If you’re able to travel abroad, you’re one of the lucky ones—so make the most of it! Enjoy every moment of your freedom. You deserve it!
And if you need to send money to a bank account in your destination before you get there, TransferGo can help. If you want to send money from home (or anywhere), sign up today for easy online money transfers.