To say that the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we lived, especially the way we traveled, is an understatement. While many countries have opened their borders and have lifted mask mandates, it’s still not all business as usual. Many countries, including Australia, are seeing new Covid waves, which experts predict will likely peak during the upcoming holidays.
So how do we go about our travels these days, with Covid being the overstaying guest who can’t seem to take the hint and be on its way? Here are some travel safety tip and a few things to remember before we go on holiday.
1. Check the local public health orders of your destination country. Pre-Covid, our travel research would simply be to read up on where to go, where to stay, and things to do. These days, it’s best to also check the requirements of the country or territory you’re planning to visit, particularly when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination, mask-wearing policies, and isolation mandates.
2. Check the policies of your airline or vessel operator. Australia, the US, and many other countries have already dropped the mask mandate for both international and domestic flights. However, there are still a handful of carriers that recommend or require it, so best to check if your chosen airline no longer requires wearing masks.
3. Get a good travel insurance plan. Even before the pandemic broke out, a travel insurance was always essential. What more these days, when travelling can expose you to COVID-19 transmission or infection; and a surge in a country or territory you’re heading to might mean travel cancellation or, worse, lockdowns away from home.
When purchasing a travel insurance, make sure it covers medical support, flight cancellations, and even emergency evacuations. Its coverage should consider common situations you might encounter while traveling, including COVID-19-related disruptions, loss of baggage or vital documents, and medical emergencies. For more information on travel insurance, read, “What You Need to Know About Travel Insurance.”
4. A reputable travel agency. Among the many things the pandemic exposed when countries imposed lockdowns and travel came to a standstill was that not all travel agencies were created equal. It was one of the hardest sectors hit. In 2020, Australians’ cancelled holiday bookings were estimated at $10 billion. With travel plans upended, getting a refund of the said plans from some travel agencies proved to be difficult. Others were lucky enough to have travel agencies who went above and beyond helping their clients get their refund for hotels and flights.
With travel agencies actually seeing a comeback what do you look for to make sure you get somebody who will watch out for you should anything go wrong when you’re travelling? Look for the right certification (AFTA or Australian Federation of Travel Agents endorses Certificate III in Travel) and industry accreditation. It’s best to also tap a local travel agency, where there’s a possibility to actually meet in person or be able to talk to them over the phone (and not just a customer service employee reading off a script). When you do get to talk to them, find out how long they’ve been in the business and how they respond when you experience a travel mishap, such as a flight cancellation or delay.
5. When you test positive during your travel. As much as you need to prepare for the weather where you’re going, you also need to prepare for COVID-19 before your trip starts. Pack high-quality masks (KN95 and N95) and self-tests so you can check if you start to exhibit symptoms. And when you do test positive, isolate and contact the local health authority, your travel agent, and travel insurance provider. For more health advice, see Health Direct.
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