Travel, as we know it, has changed considerably thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. With many countries still off-limits and the CDC still advising against international travel for pleasure purposes only, flying overseas can be somewhat challenging but as I learned during a recent flight to Europe the process was much safer than I expected.
If you need to travel overseas here are some tips on what to expect and what you can do to make the process as painless as possible:
Do Your Homework
Before you travel double-check COVID requirements in any country you are traveling to, or passing through. For example, France now requires a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before travel to the country. However, if you are connecting to a flight within the same airport and within 24 hours you do not need a test, but will be required to fill out paperwork before you go through immigration and security on the way to your next flight. Each country is different. Many now require a negative COVID test, while some – like the United Kingdom – require a two-week strict quarantine period.
Pack Wipes and Sanitizer
Be sure to pack hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Wipes come in handy for wiping items down once they have passed through security and for sanitizing armrests, tray tables, seats, etc once you’re on board your flight. While most airports I visited had ample hand sanitizing and clean restrooms on hand for passengers, a couple were out of hand soap and didn’t offer the sanitizing stations I wanted.
Leave the Good Luggage at Home
Being able to sanitize our bags by wiping down with a disinfectant wipe, or better still throwing in the wash, is a bonus during these times. So now isn’t the best time to be sporting your top designer leather goods while flying. Stick to something wipeable, like nylon, and save the expensive stuff for a later date.
Give Yourself Extra Time
Many airlines are taking temperature checks before boarding, so allow yourself extra time to get through security. It is also important to allow ample time to make your connecting flight, especially if connecting overseas where security is taking longer than normal thanks to social distancing measures.
Enjoy the Extra Arm Room
With airlines such as Delta committing to keeping the middle seats empty through the end of the year, there is no more fighting for elbow space on the armrests! With international travel at low levels, you may even luck out and get a whole row to yourself.
Be Flexible With Flights
Traveling overseas is not as easy as it used to be thanks to fewer flights. This means more connections, more time spent in layovers, and more often than not changes to your plans. Expect initial flights to be changed or even canceled completely. As a bonus, you may get to check out airports you never normally get to experience!
Take Out Travel Insurance
On the fence about taking out travel insurance? It’s worth the small cost right now to make sure you have insurance for your travels, not only to protect yourself in case of travel disruptions but to make sure you are medically covered should you fall ill while traveling.
Wear a Face Mask
Be prepared to wear a face mask for the duration of your flight and when inside the airport. While cloth masks are allowed, there are some airports – Paris’ Charles De Gaulle for example – that require a surgical face mask. To be on the safe side pack your favorite comfortable face mask, but bring extra disposable face masks so you can switch out often.