Travelling during the new norm

Cancelled getaways, family vacations, work conferences; it’s been five months since the COVID-19 pandemic forced borders shut across the world. Expectedly, people are increasingly feeling the stress and lockdown fatigue has certainly set in; but even with countries gradually lifting travel restrictions and re-opening borders, many people are still uncertain about how to plan trips. Besides the considerable risk involved, new travel restrictions and regulations have made taking a holiday more complicated than before.

However, with meticulous planning and adherence to safety guidelines, travelling safely is indeed possible. So, if you’re thinking of taking a holiday to de-stress at one of the global destinations that are re-opening to tourists, or spend some much-needed time with family, here are a few tips to do so safely and as stress-free as can be reasonably expected:

  • Check, check, check:
    1. Outbound Country Guidelines: Expectedly, all countries have introduced new travel guidelines. Many, including the UAE, require a negative COVID-19 test certificate. The certificate must be for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab test taken a maximum of 96 hours before departure. Asides negative PCR test certificates, there are a number of other constantly evolving guidelines, so make sure to check as many times as possible before your trip, to be sure you haven’t missed anything.
    2. Destination Country Guidelines: In addition to health documents and test certificates, some destinations require a mandatory 2-week isolation period upon arrival. Be sure to check the stipulations of your intended destination before booking your trip, particularly if you don’t have many vacation days. There won’t be any point in spending a two-week vacation isolating in a foreign country. If you do have enough travel days to accommodate mandatory isolation, make sure to pack adequate entertainment. Perhaps it’s time to pull out that novel you’ve been trying to read for a while. If travelling as a family/group, take board games and group activities that can keep everyone occupied for the period of isolation.
    3. Airline requirements: Besides having their own travel stipulations, airlines are a great place to begin your checks, as they usually congregate information from the outbound country and destinations. You can typically find most of the information you need for your trip via the airline’s website.
    4. Employer requirements: Some organizations have introduced a mandatory two-week isolation policy upon return from international travel, so as an employee in such organizations, you’ll need to build that into your vacation plans. This may not necessarily mean that you can’t resume work when you return – you’ll just have to make sure you’re adequately equipped to work from home before you leave, until the isolation period is over.
  • Global Health Updates: When considering your trip, it is important to be up to date with the latest COVID-19 developments around the world. Continue checking the news and official websites on useful global health updates and travel advisories.
  • Personal responsibility: As much as governments, airlines and travel authorities have put measures in place to ensure safe travelling, individuals must also take responsibility in keeping safe. Ensure you have all the necessary protective equipment including face masks, sanitizers, wipes, etc. Also, be deliberate about following physical/social distancing guidelines when out in public, in both your outbound and destination countries.
  • Patience: Understand that COVID-19 is novel, and that this is the first time living through a pandemic for many people. Everyone, airline and government officials inclusive, is trying to make the best of a bad situation. Being impatient only serves to make you and everyone around you cranky, which can result in mistakes. Mistakes which, at best, slow things down further, and at worst, may result in further spread of the virus. Therefore, arm yourself with bucket-loads of patience as you engage the various stages of your trip. Start planning your trip well in advance, giving yourself enough time to cover all the bases. Also give yourself enough time to get to the airport and go through screening. Add at least an additional hour to the time advised by the airport, to account for unprecedented delays. An additional small but incredibly useful tip is to always have a pen (plus backup) with you so you can fill out all the necessary forms without having to use someone else’s.
  • Although many trials are underway, a working COVID-19 vaccine appears to be months or years away. Still, life must go on and as testament to the resilience of human nature, we have begun to evolve and find ways to adapt to this new reality. As long as you follow all guidelines as they are issued and take personal responsibility for your safety, you can venture out of your cocoon for a much needed vacation.

    Happy (and safe) travels!

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    Dania Nwizu is a creative entrepreneur based in Lagos, Nigeria. She spends most of her time writing, telling food stories and walking on water.

    This article is intended to provide general information about finance and investments and does not replace or should be taken as professional financial advice. The content reflects the view of the author of the article and does not necessarily reflect the views of Citi or its employees, and we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article except information on Citibank N.A. – UAE products referenced herein.
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