How To Prepare For International Travel During COVID-19

Since January, airlines have been cutting China flights, with other major hotspots like South Korea, Iran, and Italy soon following. By March, nearly all international travel came to a standstill. But now, international travel is starting to ramp up. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to prepare if your itinerary calls for crossing borders.

International flights
International flights are starting up, here’s what you need to ask yourself before you fly. Photo: Getty Images

Are you healthy enough to fly?

If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, including a cough, fever or chills, shortness of breath, headaches, body aches, sore throats, loss of smell or state, or generally don’t feel well then stay at home. Beyond that, it is best to consult a medical professional before you travel. You may have underlying health conditions that could make you more vulnerable to the virus and lead to serious health consequences.

temperature screening
Passengers who have some COVID-19 symptoms may be turned away from their destination. Photo: Getty Images

What requirements does your destination have for entry?

Every country has different requirements for entry. Some require inbound travelers to quarantine on arrival for 14 days. Others require you to have not been in certain countries prior to landing at your destination. For some countries, you may have the option to be tested for the virus on arrival.

UK Quarantine Heathrow
The UK requires a 14-day quarantine for inbound passengers. Photo: Getty Images

What is open where you are going?

Keep in mind that different countries are in various stages of reopening. Some may have capacity limits in public areas while others are keeping some tourist attractions closed. Plan ahead so you know if you will be able to see the things you want to see and do what you want to do. If this is not possible, then consider changing your itinerary. Plenty of airlines are allowing people to change their flights without penalty.

What are your finances like?

It is best to do some financial planning ahead of your trip. Keep a budget and stick to it. Also, have some extra money in case of unforeseen circumstances. If countries close down borders again, you may end up spending a little longer than you anticipated in your destination. Also, some repatriation flights can cost a pretty penny. The situation remains very fluid.

Air Canada repatriation flights
Repatriation flights can cost more than a regular commercial flight. Photo: Air Canada

Also, it is a good idea to hang on to some cash in case you fall sick abroad. Check out any travel insurance plans– especially ones that give you medical coverage.

What does your government say?

Look out for what your government has to say about your destinations. Many countries are warning their citizens about overseas travel and offering some tips for travel and ways to get assistance if you need it while abroad. For people from the US, the Department of State offers a free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program that notifies you of issues in your country and can provide some assistance if you are stuck abroad.

The fluid nature of the situation means you should take extra precautions before you fly. Photo: Getty Images

What will I have to do when I get back?

Some countries are mandating self-quarantines upon return. Keep that in mind when you travel since you may end up having to take a staycation after your vacation.

In addition, when you do get back, monitor your symptoms. If you do feel any COVID-19 symptoms, contact your doctor and get your options for getting tested or treated.

What policies do my airline and airports have in place?

Most airlines are mandating face masks for customers. Some are blocking middle seats and limiting capacity, while others are not. Read up on your airline’s latest coronavirus-related policies and follow them. In addition, most carriers have pared back inflight service. It would be wise to plan ahead and pack some snacks for your journey.

Getty passenger mask
Face mask requirements have grown in popularity over the last month. Photo: Getty Images

At airports, you may have to wear a face mask upon entry or else be denied access to the terminal. Although, for security screening, you will likely be asked to remove your mask. Also, most lounges are closed or offering limited service, so keep that in mind when it comes to charging your devices, getting a bite to eat, or spending your layover.

If you have young children, check out our guide to traveling during the pandemic with kids.

Do you have any other questions about traveling internationally? What things are you keeping in mind for travel during COVID-19? Let us know in the comments!