Don’t let fear of a required Covid test outside the U.S.—either for a return flight to the U.S. or to cross borders during a multi-country trip—scare you away from overseas travel.
First, all you need for re-entering the U.S. is an antigen test—and that means you can carry an at-home kit with you. If you use one of the international test kits described in How to Get a Quick Covid Test for Travel, you can self-administer the test from anywhere you can make a video call, and you’ll receive results within one hour. We recommend doing this as early as your flight home allows, so that if you encounter any issues connecting to the telemed visit or obtaining negative results, you have time to test again.
Second, if your trip is being arranged by a local expert, such as those on The WOW List, they know the easiest, fastest ways to get tested locally and will organize it for you. Typically, they’ll arrange for a health-care technician to administer the test at your hotel in the morning, with the results delivered to your mobile phone a few hours later. WOW Listers have been doing this for travelers for a year now—since long before the U.S. even started requiring a test for re-entering. We know this from the trip reviews we receive….
Croatia: “We did not have to worry about a single thing—Ala took care of everything including organizing our covid test for our flight home.” — Jennifer Andrews
Costa Rica: “Pierre and Michael ensured that our trip was stress-free by arranging everything – private transportation, wonderful activities, professional guides, and beautiful lodging. They even arranged for our Covid tests to be taken in San Jose the night before returning to the US.” —Daena Craven
Ecuador: “The details on one of the PCR tests for our US return was incorrect — Allie was able to immediately contact the lab and get a corrected report emailed to us.” —Julie Heimark
Mexico: “We weren’t comfortable going elsewhere to get a COVID test to travel. Our agent was able to easily organize health techs to come to the house to administer the test.” —Garrett Bandy
Kenya: “Even though a negative Covid-19 test was not required for my return trip to Georgia, Julian assisted me and was able to schedule a Covid-19 test prior to leaving Kenya so that I could have a high degree of assurance that I was not infected prior to returning home.” —Jeremy Lynch
Here’s how the WendyPerrin.com team has been handling overseas Covid testing on our own trips this summer:
On Wendy’s August trip to Turkey, the Trusted Travel Expert who arranged her trip could have made things super-easy by having someone come to her hotel one morning before sightseeing to give her the test. But Wendy wanted to try the Abbott BinaxNOW at-home test kits she’d packed. This nasal-swab antigen test took less than 25 minutes. She and her family received the results by email (and a QR code to their apps) immediately, and the hotel’s front desk printed them out so they’d have paper copies.
Billie’s trip to Europe in June required two tests—the first in Greece, so that she could enter France, and the second in Spain, so she could re-enter the U.S. “Both experiences were easy and stress-free,” Billie reports, “although I can’t say it was painless, because no matter how many times I do it, that Q-tip up the nose still smarts.”
Billie’s first test occurred on the Greek island of Paros on June 7. The Greece specialist on The WOW List who booked her trip, Mina Agnos, arranged for a doctor to come to Billie’s hotel before she headed out for a day of touring. He administered the test and emailed the results when they were ready. (The cost: 100 euros.) Billie printed out the results at her hotel, showed the print-out to the attendants at the Air France check-in desk at the Santorini airport, and flew to Paris with no problem.
Billie’s second test was in Madrid on June 15, two days before her flight back to the U.S. “Delta offered a test at the Madrid airport that wasn’t convenient for me, but there was another clinic that was right near my hotel. It had a website in English, simple online booking, and cost only 50 euros. It could not have been easier. The staff spoke English, and I was in and out in less than five minutes. About 20 minutes later, I had the results in my inbox. Again, I asked my hotel to print out the results for me (the lab had, helpfully, returned them in both Spanish and English). I showed the document to the Delta check-in agent at Madrid’s airport. Interestingly, no one at JFK asked to see it.”
Don’t assume that getting a Covid test is harder in remote areas… if those remote areas depend on attracting luxury travelers. When Brook traveled to a private island in the Maldives last October, she needed a test in order to be allowed to stop in Dubai on her way home. Her resort, JOALI Maldives, had a medical clinic where she was swabbed; her sample was picked up by boat and sent across the atoll, and she had her results the next day. The test came to about $250.
In July, Brook headed to Africa on safari. For the required test to enter Zimbabwe, a clinician traveled to the private reserve in Botswana where Brook was staying and carried her sample (along with 19 others she collected that day) back to a lab in the city of Maun. The cost was $330, which included both the clinician’s travel and the test itself. The test didn’t take away one moment of game viewing, as the helicopter touched down right where Brook was having breakfast during her morning game drive.