A Checklist For Travel During The Pandemic
The pandemic has enforced upon all of us, a new way of travel. Many places in the world are bracing for a second wave of infections. Others are battling with new strains of the virus. So travel with abundant caution if you must.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you embark on your journey.
- Do you need to travel? Can what you are trying to achieve by travelling, be done in any other way? Another day? Remotely?
- How do you intend to travel? By road? By rail? By air?
- How many days will you be gone and where will you be staying?
Travel requirements can be broken down into 4 components.
International and Legal requirements:
Each country has its own set of rules which keeps changing every time depending on how infections rise and fall. These must be followed to the hilt to ensure your safety, that of people around you and your loved ones. If you are travelling internationally, here are a few things to ask before you embark on your journey.
- What is the purpose of your travel and how long do you intend to travel?
- What are the restrictions that exist in your home country and the country that you intend to travel to?
- Are your visa/ travel document valid for the travel purpose you have highlighted?
- Does your passport need to be a Covid passport? (some countries will be initiating this change)
- What are quarantining rules for transiting passengers, if you have a stopover someplace?
- What are quarantining requirements of the destination country?
- Do individual states in the destination country have additional protocols that are different from the first port of landing?
- What form of approvals/preregistration is required at the destination country, before arrival/on arrival?
- If you test positive on arrival, are there any friends/organizations you can depend on if required?
- If you need hospitalization in a foreign country, are you covered by insurance?
- If you are in the destination country for business…what rules are the local bodies enforcing for business?
Mode Of Transport Requirements:
Each country that you travel to may have a different set of rules and regulations to facilitate Covid appropriate travel and behaviour. This depends on the spread, intensity and strains that may be prevalent in that specific country at that specific time.
- If you are travelling by air you will require an RTPCR test done no earlier than 72 hours to facilitate travel. Besides, you would need a PPE suit (in some cases), be masked up at all times and may have to use a face visor.
- On landing, some countries will ask you for a Rapid Antigen Test before they let you out to mingle with the local population.
- Most countries have a requirement of hotel quarantine, or institutional quarantine or a combination of both for international travellers.
- More than adequate medical insurance cover has now become a necessity to cover medical emergencies in a foreign country.
- If you have to change to connecting flights locally, once you are in your destination country, it might be a good idea to stay as close to the airport as possible or at airport hotels. This is especially helpful as the staff there are trained on protocols and transit/transfer requirements.
- When you travel locally either by car, bus or train do ensure that the company that operates the service abides with Covid appropriate travel protocols. This can be checked on the company website.
- Do check ahead of departure, how many hours in advance you might need to check in.
- Carry your supply of snacks and water if possible, and if allowed on your mode of transport.
- Have enough supply of sanitizer, masks and disinfecting wipes with you. Some airlines allow only small bottles of hand sanitizers.
- In some countries, the driver area in cabs and autorickshaws are cordoned off with a plastic sheet to reduce the chances of infection. Do insist that the sheet is up at all times.
Wearing masks is cumbersome, but it saves lives. I have noticed a few deviants while travelling. If you strike a conversation with your driver/ chauffeur, do insist that he has his mask on top of his nose at all times. In some cases the level of the mask covering area getting below the nose first, the mouth next and on the chin in the worst-case scenarios when familiarity increases. Avoid this at all cost.
Personal Hygiene Requirements
- Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect. That is the simple mantra to keep yourself safe.
- Carry an alcohol-based sanitizer and a small bar of soap with you at all times.
- A packet of disinfectant wipes also would be helpful.
- Visualise ahead of travel the things that you might come in contact with, and how you intend to keep those surfaces clean.
- Airlines and other transportation options do take the disinfecting process seriously, but one more round of cleaning only helps the cause of safety better.
- So clean those armrests of your seat, the tray table in front of you, the buttons of the in-cabin entertainment, support handles of your chair and everything that you feel needs your cleaning expertise.
- Disinfect your phone, your laptop, your computer, your video game console.
- Wash your hands with soap as and when the opportunity arises.
- Should you need to talk to someone do maintain the
- 6 feet distance rule consciously.
- Dispose of disposable cups, plates and casseroles hygienically so they are recycled and not reused.
- Cough with your mask on in public places, if you must.
- Tissues and wipes are your best friends, carry enough supply of the same.
- If you are travelling in a group, set rules well in advance, circulate them to all members, inform members what is expected of them, reward good behaviour and penalise bad behaviour, all in real-time.
- Every country has its own set of rules to tackle the Covid -19 pandemic.
- Travellers are encouraged to follow these to the hilt to avoid travel delays
- As the Covid-19 pandemic is a dynamic situation, travellers are encouraged to check for the latest rules before they embark on their journey.
- If you have a medical condition that could get aggravated, do check with a medical professional before you decide to travel.
- A valid RTPCR test and quarantining are mandatory for international travel, at the moment.
- Once you are in the host country, you must scout local news feeds, diplomatic advisories and other avenues to stay on top of the information cycle.
- It also might be a good idea to identify hospitals, medical practitioners, emergency services and local expat associations in the cities that you intend to travel to, should you need immediate local assistance.
- Travelling to countries where the medical community is already overburdened with the spread of the epidemic is avoidable.
- Carrying your thermometer, oximeter and pulse monitor proves very beneficial.
Whatever your need or motivation to travel, caution, staying alert and sticking to a preplanned agenda are the best options to keep you safe.
Disclaimer: Travel rules change frequently during the pandemic. For the latest information, do visit appropriate websites to stay updated.