Wherever you’re headed, a little pre-trip preparation will help you have peace of mind while traveling these days. Here are Wendy’s last-minute tips, ideas, and solutions for travel during Covid—covering Covid tests, packing, travel insurance, flying, and more. Most are for international trips, but many are useful for domestic travel too.
Testing / Covid-Related Prep For International Flights
- It’s the airline’s employees who will be verifying your paperwork when you check in, so reconfirm with your airline(s) the entry requirements for all countries on your itinerary. That includes countries you’re only transiting through.
- If a pre-trip test is required, here’s how to get it. Use a lab that specializes in tests for travel. (A local drugstore’s test may be cheaper, but be sure it guarantees your results in time.)
- Complete any forms or paperwork required by your destination, and download any required apps. These could include an entry form, contact tracing information, or health affirmations. Argentina, for example, requires that you fill out an online affidavit.
- Even if it’s not required, take a PCR test before you go. You can do it quickly and easily by mail or at numerous locations across the country. A negative result will give you peace of mind that is important, especially if you’re flying to a foreign country.
- Have a plan to get tested at the end of your trip. All travelers entering the U.S. via air must show a negative Covid test (either PCR or antigen) taken within one day of their departure. A WOW List trip planner can arrange for a fast and convenient in-person test at your destination, and/or there are official, video-monitored self-test kits that you can pack in your luggage. You might want to pack an extra self-test: Many manufacturers include two tests per kit or recommend that each traveler bring two tests.
- Consider taking extra precautions to avoid infection in these last days before you depart. The more careful you are now, the less likely a positive test could cancel your trip.
Remember to Pack
- Vaccination card if traveling internationally. (For domestic trips, a photo of your card usually suffices.)
- A print-out of your negative Covid test result. Carry a printed copy of your results and any other necessary paperwork (and keep electronic back-up copies securely in the cloud or on your phone).
- N95 or KN95 (medical-grade) masks. For a long flight, for ear relief, you might want a mask-strap extender or a N95 that straps around the back of your head instead of around your ears. On my flights, I bring both types of N95s.
- Hand sanitizer and wipes. The TSA allows air travelers to bring one liquid hand-sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in their carry-ons now. It’s helpful to pack a smaller bottle also, to carry with you in your day bag at your destination, or in case international airports have different liquid allowances.
- Snacks you can eat when masked. Some airports and airlines are limited in the food they are providing nowadays. Be prepared with an energy bar or similar.
- A Covid self-test, so you’ve got one handy in case you need it.
Optimize Safety on Your Flight
- Mask up. Even though masks are no longer required on domestic flights—rules on international flights depend on the arrival country’s requirements and the airline’s policy—health experts say it’s still wise to mask in airports and on planes.
- Sit as far as possible from the nearest stranger. If you see on your airline’s website that a stranger is occupying a seat next to you, try to move to a seat with adjacent empty seats. At the airport gate before your flight, reconfirm with the gate agent whether you are still next to an empty seat; if not, ask about moving.
- For ventilation, turn on the air nozzle above you and keep it at full blast throughout the flight. Studies have shown that it does work to scatter viral particles. Since that might make you cold, bring a sweater.
- The airplane bathroom is the most germ-filled place on the plane, so use an airport bathroom right before you board, to increase the chance that you can avoid the airplane lavatory entirely or at least minimize the number of visits.
- If you’re seated next to a stranger, don’t remove your mask to eat or drink while your seatmate’s mask is removed. Wait until your seatmate’s mask is back on.
Consider Travel Insurance
We’re Here to Help
As a travel journalist and consumer advocate for the past 30 years—first as Condé Nast Traveler’s advice columnist, then as TripAdvisor’s Travel Advocate—I’m all too aware of the travel concerns that need to be addressed as a result of this pandemic. For many trips, you’d be wise to use an extremely well-connected, extremely knowledgeable, destination-specific, trip-planning specialist who can act as your local fixer. You’d be even wiser to find and contact that trip planner via The WOW List, which is the first step in my WOW approach to trip planning, created by popular demand from my longtime readers. It’s the approach used by the travelers who are submitting these trip reviews and getting benefits including priority status, VIP treatment, my advice from the start of your trip planning, and the chance to win a surprise, custom-designed WOW Moment on a third qualifying trip. It all starts when you tell us about the trip you want via the questionnaires on The WOW List. —Wendy
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