Some bumps in the road have always been par for the course when it comes to international travel. Any time you leave the country you know, with the systems and infrastructures you understand, there’s a lot of preparation involved. That was true even before the pandemic. You’d have to make sure you’d have access to certain medications overseas if you ran out. You’d have to find a way to use your cell phone without accruing massive roaming charges. You’d have to learn some of the basic phrases to get by at your destination. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken the difficulty level of international travel up several notches. The good news is the FDA recently endorsed the booster shot and said that mixing vaccines is safe, MADAMENOIRE reported, which might make some travelers feel more empowered to get back out there. However, since flying and staying overseas isn’t exactly cheap, and changing or cancelling a flight can mean losing hundreds if not thousands of dollars, it’s important you know what you’re in for.
You can never be fully prepared for a journey overseas during the pandemic. There are hours-long flights and layovers and the conundrum of international airports. Keeping up with COVID-19 protocol can be a bit much. Here are things to know before flying internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Rules Are Constantly Changing
At one point, international travelers had provide a negative COVID-19 test that was administered within three days of departure. Recently, some airlines updated new information stating travelers could show a test or vaccine card. Vaccinated flyers need not show a test. Call your airline to confirm this is true it’s flyers. The rules are constantly changing so don’t just set it and forget it when it comes to tests or vaccine cards. Check and re-check with your airline in the days before your trip.
Apps And Sites Don’t Keep Up
Unfortunately, websites and apps for airlines were not updating at the speed that COVID-19 requirements do. Furthermore, the airlines aren’t doing a very good job of communicating guidelines clearly. Information for returning to the United States are not necessarily the same as for traveling out. For example travelers may need to show a negative COVID-19 test to fly home and a vaccine card. Updated information is not always readily available on sites and apps. Do yourself a favor and double and triple check with your airline – over the phone – for the most current guidelines before your departure date. Their apps and websites can’t always be trusted.
The Mask Rule Is No Joke
Airports and airlines are pretty serious about the mask thing. Announcements air over the speakers roughly every 20 minutes reminding everyone wear a mask and failure to do so can result in removal from the airport and denial of re-entry, as well as fines and/or criminal charges. On the airplane, the flight attendants make announcements reminding individuals that if they have to be asked more than once to put their mask back on, law enforcement would be waiting for them on arrival.
Eating On The Plane
You may have to eat like you’re in a pandemic—because you are. Flight attendants instruct flyers to take a bite of their food, then immediately put the mask back on while chewing.
Pack Several Extra Masks
Between taxis, check-ins, layovers and actual flight time, your travel can last an entire day. Your mask will be contaminated with many elements. Pack a 20-pack of disposable masks and change them out several times.
Layovers Complicate Things
If you have a layover, particularly an additional international one, things get complicated. If you have, say, an eight-hour layover somewhere and want to leave the airport, you will be subject to that country’s COVID-19 protocol, including possibly getting re-tested or quarantined.
Your Vaccine Card Might Not Be Valid There
Your vaccine card might not be accepted in many situations when traveling internationally. This is another rule that is constantly changing and is rather confusing. In some locations, restaurants will not allow you to dine in them unless you present a locally issued vaccine card. If you plan on relying on your vaccine card to travel or dine while you’re abroad, double and triple check guidelines before you go.
You Live With Caution Before Coming Home
You may get nervous about how you spent your days. You’re going to take another COVID-19 test to go home. It it’s positive, you may have to quarantine at our own expense and it will delay your return travel. So let’s do a quick calculation of those costs. 1) You’d have to pay for a hotel for an additional ten days (possibly 14). That’s not cheap. 2) Airlines don’t give refunds if you have to cancel due to COVID-19 so that money would be down the drain. You’d need to book a new ticket. 3) You’d have to order room service or delivery for every meal during quarantine. The numbers are dizzying. So be hella mindful of crowded places and social distancing and mask wearing for your entire trip.