10 Pandemic Travel Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Traveling Abroad

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Let’s face it: Travel isn’t what it used to be. Things are changing rapidly because of the pandemic. Travel mistakes are bound to happen.

Sure, some miscalculations are unavoidable, but taking the right precautions may help guarantee that your trip runs as smoothly as possible. This involves foreseeing potential roadblocks and snafus that might ruin your efforts.

There are a number of factors to consider when planning a vacation overseas during the COVID-19 epidemic. To that end, here are the 10 common mistakes to avoid when traveling abroad during the pandemic.

girl wearing a surgical mask in an airport

1. Adding many nations to your itinerary

One of the biggest pandemic travel mistakes you can make is not checking the United States State Department website for COVID-19 country specific information before making your plans. They keep track of entry requirements for each nation.

Try to stick to one or two nations while traveling abroad until the virus is under control. One would be better. You don’t want  a last-minute regulation change in the middle of your trip. That could easily derail the rest of your planned vacation.

“Adding nations” includes changing planes. There may be varying limitations while in transit through the airport.

Stick to one or two countries until all the changes have settled to keep things easy and stress-free. You can relax on your journey without having to panic about ever-changing travel restrictions, testing, transits, and quarantines.

2. Not conducting adequate research on airline policies

Another mistake is not checking for changes in airline policies. Booking a trip is no longer as cut and dried as it once was, and rules have changed in the wake of COVID-19. Passengers have lost many thousands of dollars owing to flight cancellations due to the epidemic.

The first thing you need to do is choose the appropriate airline. In other words, you’ll need to pay a visit to the airline’s site and search for the COVID-19 reference page for additional information.

Specifically, check their refund policies. Not all companies will return your money if they have to cancel a flight because of the pandemic. You might only be eligible to receive a voucher for another flight.

The pandemic hit us full force 5 days before Dan and I were due to leave for a travel blogging conference and 2-week trip through Sicily. All our flight reservations were confirmed, hotels were booked, and tours were scheduled. Then we got up one morning and discovered our flights had been canceled. Kudos to Turkish Airlines for giving us a full refund, but some of our blogger friends weren’t as lucky. One airline offered a credit for a future flight, which had to be used within a year. You can imagine how well that worked out.

Another thing to consider is the seating arrangements. How do they reduce your exposure to the virus throughout your flight? What are their social distancing and masking policies? No one was in our row when we flew back to America in 2020, but all domestic flights were full a few months later.

If you’re taking a guided tour, plan a multi-stop vacation, or use a travel agent, be sure you understand their regulations as well.

ⓘ TIP: Check your credit card benefits for additional travel coverage. We purchased everything with our Chase Sapphire and they reimbursed us for the fares that Trenitalia wouldn’t refund due to COVID.

mask and sanitizer on top of a suitcase. One of the biggest pandemic travel mistakes is not bringing enough PPEs

3. Not getting a COVID test before the flight

This may be the most crucial thing on your list of the things to prepare before traveling abroad. You won’t want to miss getting tested before flying overseas

The majority of nations that need a test demand a negative certificate provided within 72 hours before boarding.

Be sure to allow for enough time to obtain your certificate and print it off in time for your flight.

You may schedule a test at your local urgent care center or community drive-in. Also, you can call your physician to see if they provide home visits (many do). In this case, a nurse will come right to your door. After they get the lab tests results later that day, they will email you a certificate.

Before leaving for the airport, make many photocopies of your negative certificate and store them somewhere secure. You may also wish to keep a digital copy on your phone.

ⓘ TIP: It won’t hurt to get tested even if it’s not required. Entry criteria can change in the blink of an eye.

4. Waiting to complete paperwork in person

Nobody likes filling out paperwork, but you’ll sure see a lot of it during COVID travel! In most cases, you will get many forms for entrance into one nation. Printing and filling them out ahead of time is an excellent approach to manage this.

As a general guideline, fill out three copies. This may seem like overkill, but sometimes you may need to give the identical original form to various persons.

It’s smart to keep a pen handy even if you’ve completed everything ahead of time. Immigration regulations are changing so quickly that a country can change its forms at any time.

Airport and country protocols differ. Be prepared for everything, including possible visits to the immigration office for further interrogation.

Or you may end up with an agent who hardly looks at your paperwork. Each entry point will be different and a little nerve-racking. You can relax when you’re securely in the free zone and on your way to baggage claim.

man wearing a mask walking through an airport with his carryon and looking at a phone

5. Failing to plan safe activities

The pandemic travel era is the perfect time to be creative with your itinerary. Rethink the kind of vacation where you’ll be rushing from place to place. Attempting to see every tourist destination in a single day is one of the biggest travel mistakes.

This is the time to embrace slow travel. Stay in one place for a while and explore the neighborhood. You can make it up as you go, pretending you’re a local doing things that are both enjoyable and secure.

You may want to enjoy the morning in a local market, then find a bench to enjoy a picnic lunch. People-watching has always been an excellent pastime.

Or if you like tours, this would be a good time to arrange a private guide to show you around a museum or take you on a day trip. It’s a wonderful treat to have one-on-one access to a local specialist.

ⓘ TIP: Both Get Your Guide and Viator take COVID seriously. They spell out the safety measures for each of their tours. Find tours that suit your comfort level, from simple masks to drivers who have installed a plexiglass screen between the back and front seats.

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Collage of 3 photos, a masked woman on an airport conveyor belt, a masked couple on a bus looking at a phone, and a model airplane on top of a passport, with a surgical mask and air ticket. Text overlay says "pandemic travel mistakes to avoid."

6. Not carrying enough PPEs

Travel has become a little more difficult, thanks to the need to bring additional masks, food, gloves, and sanitizer. While pandemic travel abroad might be stressful, a little bit of planning will help.

Don’t forget to bring enough protective equipment to last your vacation. And if you’re flying, remember to carry enough masks, sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and gloves for the duration of the flight. Don’t automatically expect the airline to provide it. 

Every airport and airline has its own set of rules, some stricter than others. To be extra vigilant, there are a number of ways to stay healthy on a flight beyond simply wearing a mask.

ⓘ TIP: Whether you’re flying or driving, it’s wise to ensure you always have some food and drink on hand. Some food courts, airport lounges, and food outlets may be closed, and not all flights will offer food.

ALSO READ:
10 Best Ways to Stay Healthy on a Plane

7. Not being an eco-conscious tourist

The environment is one aspect of the tourism sector that has dropped a notch or two in terms of emphasis. Think about all the plastic wrappings, the PPE, and additional takeaway packing that is discarded daily.

Always be sure to dispose of all your trash in the correct containers. Also try to ensure that your resorts continue to adhere to their usual standards, even though they may be understaffed.

With so many planes operating at low capacity, now is the perfect time to begin mitigating your carbon emissions. Carbon emissions are produced any time you travel.

Your contribution will assist in offsetting the carbon footprint of your travels. This is by funding initiatives that minimize CO2 emissions while providing significant benefits to people and nature worldwide.

thai coins, passport, surgical mask and hand sanitizer

8. Assuming you’re immune

One of the most common errors you can make is to believe that you’re invincible simply because you have a negative COVID test result.

It’s as if going through the airports is the magic test. Once you’ve passed it, everything is possible.

Some vaccinated tourists assume that a vaccination makes them immune to COVID-19. But according to the CDC, this is not the case. You still need to wear a mask and wash your hands, because even if a person is immunized, they can still contract COVID-19 and become unwell.

If you’ve had a COVID test, you should note that negative results only mean there’s no detectable virus. It doesn’t mean you haven’t been infected, because the incubation period can be as much as two weeks. Don’t stop taking precautions after taking the test.

Try to avoid removing your mask or spending more than 10 minutes chatting with someone in a confined area. Both are a potential exposure that you should be cautious about. More significantly, you can infect non-vaccinated persons.

hand holding a passport with a covid certificate inside it. map in background

9. Not having travel insurance

Many tourists opt to forego insurance, either to save money or because they have no health problems.

But traveling during the pandemic requires significant planning to ensure your journey is entirely safe. This is why travel insurance has become so important. With the epidemic still raging, it’s the best way to ensure peace of mind during your vacation.

 When shopping for a policy, you should know that there are various types of travel insurance coverage:

  • Health insurance
  • Trip cancellation or travel interruption insurance
  • Medical evacuation insurance

Also, certain insurance policies will cover you if you decide to cancel for any reason.

Among other things, it’s important that your travel insurance covers unpredictable incidents like medical crises. Your existing medical insurance policy may not cover treatment in a different nation.

More than a dozen nations require foreign visitors to have coverage for medical and travel expenses, including COVID-related ailments.

If you want to travel to Dubai, for instance, you must have a minimum of $100,000 in standard emergency medical coverage. Also, you’ll need at least $50,000 in medical evacuation coverage.

And if you travel to Antarctica, you’ll need at least $100,000 for medical coverage and evacuation costs.

ALSO READ:
How to Choose Pandemic Travel Insurance

10. Ignoring COVID-19 precautions when booking accommodation

Proper ventilation can assist in lowering the risk of coronavirus transmission. Therefore, when choosing a room to stay in, opt for one with a balcony or windows that can be opened. Try to avoid rooms with inadequate ventilation or no windows.

Hotels with high-quality air conditioning and filtration systems are appropriate choices. But they are less reliable than a balcony or an open window.

Request a room that hasn’t been inhabited in a few days. This is because coronavirus may survive for up to 72 hours on various surfaces like stainless steel and plastic.

You should also sanitize your room upon arrival. This should happen whether or not the hotel staff thoroughly cleans your room before your visit.

Sanitizing helps kill germs or viruses that may have survived on high-touch surfaces. For example, you can get germs in doorknobs, and TV and AC remotes, light switches, charging stations, countertops, and tables.

passport with an air ticket inside it. mask. model airplane

Use these tips for a safe journey abroad

The COVID-19 epidemic has influenced most people’s travel selections and itineraries since early last year. Sadly, it will continue doing so far into the calendar this year.

With that in mind, it’s not easy to remain indoors. So if you’re going to travel overseas, avoid the common mistakes listed above.

After all, you want to have a stress-free trip while contributing to society and making a difference.

Did this article on mistakes to avoid when traveling abroad during the pandemic help you? If so, get more travel tips by browsing the rest of our blog today.

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to around 60 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages inspired her to create As We Saw It with her husband Dan, a professional photographer. Her goal is to make travel easier for others and to offer a brief escape to another land.
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