There’s no question that the COVID-19 has dealt a heavy blow to the global travel and tourism industry - not to mention dampening our spirits and dulling our sense of adventure as we remained locked down – and locked away – from the rest of the world!
As vaccination drives continue to gain momentum all over the world, countries are easing their lockdown restrictions and lifting travel bans in a bid to boost local and international tourism as a much-needed economic impetus.
After what seemed like an eternity, we are finally able to emerge from our 18-month hibernation, ready to get packing and venturing outside the confines of our sanitized spaces.
Travel, however, will never be quite the same. Going forward, the notion of “moving around freely” will have less to do with travel visas, and more so with rules and regulations to protect your health and the health of those around you.
Here are some key considerations to keep in mind before you depart on your first, post-lockdown journey:
Understand the risk status of your destination
Keep an eye on the most recent Covid case numbers and related statistics of the country you’re planning to visit to get an idea of the risk status of your destination. If you are visiting a relatively high-risk country or region, make sure you are aware of any travel restrictions and specific mandatory requirements (wearing a mask, sanitizing and social distancing requirements, etc.) Also, make sure that borders will remain open during your visit.
The importance of travel insurance
The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in more people becoming aware of the existence and importance of travel insurance. Travel medical insurance cover can help you if you become sick or injured. Even if you’re fully vaccinated you may want a plan that will cover Covid-related medical expenses in case you contract the virus during your trip. You will also want to see your insurer cover the costs of additional accommodation expenses incurred should your return home be delayed due to contracting the virus, and therefore having to remain in quarantine while you are abroad.
Your vaccination certificate is the new visa
Your vaccination status will be increasingly important as this will dictate your eligibility to enter and exit destinations around the world. A vaccination certificate will become an essential ticket to prove that you are fully vaccinated and that you are able to travel without the need for mandatory quarantine. The good news is that fully vaccinated South African can now get their COVID-19 Digital Certificate directly via website of the National Department of Health.
Get ready for the trip
Keep all your travel and medical documents safe in one place. This includes your passport, airline tickets, vaccination card, travel insurance policy, face masks, hand sanitiser (at least 60% of alcohol), hand disinfectant and disposable wipes.
Make sure you are up to date with the exact travel requirements of the airline, e.g., mandatory face masks, and check the airline and hotel notification to stay up to date with any last-minute changes in flight or accommodation arrangements.
On the airplane
It is imperative that you follow the instructions of the airplane personnel. The infection zone on airplanes is generally about two meters, which means two rows around the infected person. Therefore, additional precautions must be taken in confined spaces.
Wear your face mask properly, and at all times. Pack several masks before you go and keep them handy, as these may not be readily available upon arrival. Always keep 1.5 meters from the people around you and try to avoid crowed places.
Lastly, be vigilant, stay healthy, and – most importantly – have fun!