Smart traveler guide: Trip planning in times of coronavirus pandemic

With the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic on a global basis, traveling has become a rather disconcerting experience. Many people who trips or vacations booked, ended up cancelling everything since health authorities issued warnings and impositions on traveling, especially to certain countries where there are many cases of COVID-19.

However there are still people who decide to travel, and in truth there are ways and means how you can make your trip safe. In fact we shall be discussing some smart travelling tips you will need to bear in mind during these uncertain times.

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Consider all aspects relating to your trip

Traveling during these months is certainly not risk-free and you need to be fully aware of this. There are various factors which will affect the level of risk you will be taking if you decide to travel in the near future.

  • Your age and health – certain people are considered to be at a higher risk than others should they become infected with the coronavirus. This includes elderly people, and those who already suffer from some health problems or conditions, particularly diabetes, cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Should you fall into such categories you should seriously consider calling off your trip for good because your life is at stake should you be infected with COVID-19. Fatality rates for such people are very high.
  • The country you intend to visit – with thousands of reported cases in certain hot zones, you will want to stay away from such countries. Some of the worst affected countries include China, Italy, Spain, Iran, South Korea and the USA. 
  • Self-quarantine – another factor you need to take into account is the fact that once you return back home you will have to undergo two weeks of self-quarantine, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms or are infected.
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Planning your trip

It is always important to plan your trip well in advance, and during these uncertain times it is critical. Apart from the risks involved from a health point of view, you will also need to consider the various restrictions and impositions that are in place in different countries. As a result, your travel plans will most likely be affected in a variety of ways, depending on the country you were planning to travel to. 

All countries have enacted measures that are intended to safeguard their citizens, and one needs to appreciate the importance behind this reasoning. There are certain countries who have simply banned entry. Others have lifted visa exemptions. 

Even if you plan every detail, you need to be aware that during times such as these anything could happen. A new law could be imposed while you are in the country, and you will need to abide by it once you are there. Health officials are constantly issuing warnings and restrictions are changing from time to time depending on the severity of the situation in the country in question. Most likely you will find that public areas are practically deserted as most countries are urging their citizens to stay safe in their homes unless they need to go out for something urgent or to buy groceries, for example. This could have a strange effect as when you travel you will most likely be looking forward to experience the essence of a country, and during these times that is practically impossible.

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How to keep yourself safe

If you still intend to travel you need to make sure that you remember the following to keep yourself as safe as possible:

  • Wash your hands often – this is of the essence during these times, especially if you visit public places, use public transport, and enter shops. You should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, while making sure that you properly scrub all areas of your hands. It is also important to invest in some hand sanitizers which have at least 60% alcohol content in cases when you cannot find access to water and soap.
  • Avoid touching your face – the coronavirus is highly infectious and so people are being urged to avoid touching their face, especially the mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Social distancing – stay away from other people as much as possible. Avoid crowds or areas where there are several people, as well as closed spaces. The recommended distance is of at least 3 feet away. You can become infected through airborne droplets, especially if you are in close proximity to someone who is infected and who sneezes or coughs. 
  • Wear a mask – it may be best to consider wearing a mask in public.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting – if you travel you will obviously be staying in a hotel or apartment. Even though most hotels are claiming that the rooms are being cleaned and disinfected after use, it is very important to make sure that you properly clean and disinfect the room yourself, so as to be on the safe side. Remember that it could have been used or accessed by someone who is infected. Objects that are frequently touched should be removed or avoided. Clean every surface thoroughly by using a disinfectant with alcohol content, or with a solution of bleach.

What to do in case you feel unwell while you are abroad

No traveling is risk free during these times. Regardless of how cautious you try to be, there are still risks involved. It is therefore important to check in advance what you should do, and whom to contact in case you feel unwell or experience any symptoms while you are abroad. Public health authorities in each country have issued instructions and you should be aware of them depending on the country where you will be.

Is travel health insurance applicable during the pandemic?

Travel health insurance coverage should be checked with your insurance company prior to traveling. This will help you know how things stand. Coverage will depend on the insurance company, as well as on the country you will be traveling to. If authorities have issued warning to avoid traveling to certain countries, and you still intend to go there, most likely your insurance company will not cover any medical expenses.


Flight considerations

Your flight ticket booking could have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This depends on the country, as well as on the flight operator.

Gulf Air is urging clients to visit the website so as to check their flight status before travelling. Changes could have been introduced and you need to make sure that you are aware of any announcements.

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