Have you been thinking about taking a trip, but the pandemic and various rules and regulations seem so daunting? That’s because they can be, however if you prepare yourself in advance it can be quite a smooth process also.
We have recently traveled from Canada to the US and surprisingly I must admit this was quite a smooth process from beginning to end. If you’d like to learn how to prepare yourself for the trip to go as smooth as possible then keep on reading.
Please Note: I am not encouraging anyone to travel, I understand the Government is currently recommending essential travel only. I also understand essential travel means different things to different people.
Review Reliable Sources
First things first, pandemic travel requires various documents which were previously not required, and it can be overwhelming traveling first time around.
When you decide on your destination you will need to familiarize yourself with the local government guidelines and requirements. This does not only mean you go by what the airline says on their website – airline policies can differ from government guidelines. Its best to identify a reliable source of information in this ever-changing environment and continue to regularly check for updates & changes before and during your trip for a safe return. For example, when traveling to the US I’d review the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention Website amongst other things, to find out if:
- I am eligible to travel
- What are the entry requirements?
- What are the departure requirements?
- Quarantine Times (if any)
And so on, depending on your needs.
Leaving can be quite easy, however make sure you will be able to return and be admitted to your home country. Again, I’d review what are the requirements on your return in terms of testing etc.
Not every airline sends an email with relevant updates therefore I’d continue to monitor the airline website for any changes as well. I have heard from number of friends their flights have been cancelled (by various airlines) and they weren’t aware of it until they tried to check-in online and were unable to do so. Quite a surprise!
Next thing which is gold these days is having all your documents printed. I understand it may sound like we are going back in time by few years and its not exactly environmentally friendly, however people who had everything printed and ready to go to show to the crew members seemed to have a much quicker and more enjoyable experience than those who do not and have to rummage through their phone for relevant items. This also acts as a back up in case something happens to your phone. Print absolutely everything – your visa approval, test results, vaccination status and whatever else is relevant to you & your trip.
On a separate note, if you are exempt from any of the guidelines for any reason – I’d also print the page and highlight the passage from the website that proves you are in fact exempt (hopefully you’re using a reliable source) to have to hand to show that you can in fact board a flight if you are exempt from XYZ or whatever your situation is. Again, I’ve heard horrific stories where the crew members did not have sufficient knowledge about exemptions and have denied boarding to individuals until proven otherwise.
Its important to note, that crew members aren’t expected to know every single country requirement that’s changing daily. Therefore, cover yourself and print it out for your peace of mind.
Lastly, this sounds very basic however I’d ensure I have a copy of my documents stored somewhere digitally. If you lose your passport or if the crew decides they’d like to keep a copy of your test results you have a peace of mind that you have a copy available digitally, should anyone decide to ask you for a proof once more. Because it happens, and you do not want to be stuck.
BE T&C SAVVY
Your travel – pandemic or not, can be disrupted at any time for any reason – delay, cancellation, weather conditions etc. Its important to know the Terms & Conditions of your flight and what you can and cannot do. For example – if your flight is delayed for more than 3 hours you will be entitled to some sort of a compensation. The same will apply if you give up your seat to allow someone else to board a flight instead (usually only in an event of an emergency) etc.
Key thing to note is that the airline will try to low-ball your offer of compensation. What do I mean by that? They will offer you the lowest/least amount of compensation required by them to offer to you. We as customers tend to accept the first offer, thinking we are getting a great deal HOWEVER the airlines are usually able to offer you a lot more, we just don’t know it, for example overnight hotel stay, monetary compensation or even an upgrade to a 1st class seat. Terms & Conditions are your best friends – get to know them.
Pro Tip: If you can do so, try to book your flights with a short lead time. I know this would sound ridiculous in terms of costs and that might have been the case pre-pandemic, however as things evolve and change daily, the less lead time you give yourself the less room for changes and travel disruptions. I found that employers have become more flexible too, if you book a vacation and suddenly unable to go, I doubt that’d force you to take the time off anyway.
AT THE AIRPORT
Arrive early. If you’re required to be at the airport 3 hours before, be there 4 hours before. As mentioned above the current travel requirements are extensive and differ for everyone therefore processing and check in times are longer than usual. You do not want to be rushing to your gate or God forbid miss your flight due to delay at check in.
It goes without saying that you should always bring a hand sanitizer with you, however anti bacterial wipes will be your best friends. This is the first thing you should do before sitting down in your seat at the airport or on a plane. Disinfecting the seat even if you don’t intend to touch anything will give you a peace of mind.
Another great practice would be to bring a number of reusable masks and change them frequently. For example, change a mask while leaving the airport and boarding the flight. The same once you leave the airplane and arrive at your destination. You are minimizing the carrier of germs from various environments with you. (This way, you are potentially keeping others safe.)
If you can – both at the airport and on the plane, sit away from people. Find couple of seats on a side facing away. Despite wearing masks, you never actually know where the germs are and why try and test your luck? Lately on the planes the crew will let you swap seats once you’re done with take off – you can’t do it beforehand due to weight allocation by the airline, but afterwards there’s no issue swapping.
Bring your own snacks and a reusable water bottle. This will minimize buying items which were touched by number of people in an airport lounge, and you know they have been safely prepared. Its all about setting yourself up for success and safe travel.
Lastly as strange as it may sound, I’d suggest wearing loose clothing. There’s nothing worse than having to touch a handle or railing that has been touched by hundreds of people that day and even though you use the sanitizer your hand will stay “dirty” until you get to a washroom. I always bring a travel jumper with me, with longer/stretched sleeves that I can use for this sort of thing. This jumper is used for travel only and nowhere else during my trip unless you can get to a washer/dryer.
I hope you found these tips useful and/or they might have given you a little peace of mind (how many times have I used that phrase already? 😊 ). If you have any tips you think I should include in this post, I welcome all feedback in comments below.
If you decide to travel stay safe & stay negative!