What It’s Like to Travel During COVID-19
Debunking fears and answering your questions.
Author’s note: Sorry, American readers. This article has been written from the perspective of a fellow Canadian citizen, meaning the restrictions in place and our traveling permissions may vary. Please fulfill your personal research accordingly.
Even as the world patiently awaits the official approval for a vaccine against COVID-19, many people have slowly risen from hibernation and begun inching back to somewhat of a normal life. But who in their right minds would board an international flight during a pandemic?
Yep. Me. And a handful of other level-headed citizens, too.
I am Canadian, meaning I had the luxury of social support and a government that seemingly handled the pandemic with tact right off the bat. Contrary to what many people believe, it is currently permitted for Canadians to travel to most countries around the world — with the exclusion of the United States — and it has been since the end of June.
In order to address questions and concerns that have often resurfaced in my private messages, I put together a quick guide documenting my experience and my standing on current international travel — inspiring you either to pack your bags, or maybe to think twice about it.
The world is ready to welcome you.
Air travel companies, airports, and all of the welcoming countries have had time to adequately prepare for the arrival of international guests. If this weren’t the case, tourists would not be permitted to enter their country and travel would not be permitted out of your country.
Wearing a mask for over 3 hours is going suck, and there’s no way around it.
Yes, it will ruin your look. And no, you’re not the only one who dislikes it nor should be permitted to not wear one.
Many countries and states currently require you to wear a face mask in order to be permitted in public spaces, and all airlines require you wear one for the entirety of your flight. Keep this in mind when traveling to hot and sticky tropical destinations.
Most importantly, please make sure you pack more than needed and make sure you wear them properly.
Planes are probably one of the safest places to be.
Air Canada, amongst many other airlines, issued a statement weeks ago explaining how each aircraft is disinfected using hospital-grade products and equipped with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that purify your air. These filters are regularly used in hospital settings.
In all honesty, I felt safer on a plane than in my local Wal-Mart. Flight attendants pay diligent attention to flyers and make sure all newly implemented regulations are withheld.
Prepare to have your temperature taken — a lot.
Contrary to my initial belief, no, sitting in the sun for two hours will not affect the reading on the digital thermometer.
This method has been implemented in many restaurants, airports, hotels, and most public spaces — so if you had a mild fever before leaving and thought you’d get away with it, be prepared to turn around. And yes, the readings are highly accurate.
People need your support.
The coronavirus has drastically impacted the financial status of those who work in any tourism business.
If you can afford the luxury to travel, you can afford to tip your waiters, concierges, the girl who made your coffee, and all of the other service providers. This applies regardless of where you are traveling to, but especially in second and third world countries.
If you can’t, stay home.
The world is quiet.
These circumstances may never represent themselves in your lifetime (at least, we hope).
Unless you can’t live without rooftop parties and cities that never sleep, you will find blissful peace and quiet in some of the most beautiful places in the world —especially those that are usually swarmed with visitors.
Just that feeling of stillness and quietude, in itself, is worth the experience.
Multiple restrictions are currently in place for international travel, such as:
- You mustn’t have a fever nor other symptoms of the coronavirus before departure.
- Many insurance companies will adjust their deductible prices accordingly depending on your age, chosen destination, time spent abroad, and overall risk of contracting the virus.
- Canadian travelers: a mandatory 14-day quarantine is obliged by law upon your return. This law is currently in effect until August 31st, unless otherwise extended.
- Quarantine is not imposed upon arrival in most countries. It is highly encouraged to research this beforehand unless you don’t mind being boarded up in your hotel room or Airbnb.
Tips & Tricks
- Take note of airline, hotel and vacation rental cancellation and refund policies in case you need to change or cancel the trip
- Restrictions and requirements can change rapidly. Make sure to stay up to date with your research about your destination and inquire about both quarantine and temporary visa laws.
- Stay on top of your destination’s public health situations and statements.
- Make sure any pre-trip requirements are fulfilled, such as a negative COVID-19 test, health forms, or other documentation.
- Be prepared to protect yourself instead of relying on others to do it. Pack disinfectant and plenty of masks to wear in public spaces, and avoid crowds.
- If sightseeing, make sure to contact your desired tourist attractions and inquire about their new hours and capacity limits, as many places are closed or at reduced capacity.
The pandemic has instilled a constant state of fear not only when I open my bank statement, but when I visit the grocery store, the gas station, my grand-parents, and most of all, my social media feeds. (Thank goodness I don’t have cable nor watch the news.)
I spent the past 4 months paralyzed by the fear of not having enough and the endless rumination of my thoughts. Getting out of my rut was one of the best decisions I could do in order to silence my mind, get a hold of myself, and be radically reminded to stop living in fear.
If you and your living companions are not considered at risk of contracting the virus and commit to following all travel guidelines, there is no reason for travel not to be available to you.
Do your research, stay calm, be smart, and most of all — don’t live in fear.