Will travel be safe again with Covid-19? This is a question that people are asking and for which there seems to be many opinions, yet not too many clear answers.
I am (still) an avid traveler, however, I am also a mother, a family person and I consider myself a responsible adult. So obviously, I am concerned about the risks arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and the many mutations often covered in the news.
For the past year I have had my children attend online school from home, restaurants have been closed, most shopping too, and there have been restrictions on public gatherings and travel.
I see the consequences that come from the lack of social contact on my children and myself for that matter. Maybe even worse I see small businesses that I have enjoyed visiting, disappearing for good.
People in my network have lost their jobs, savings, and people’s frustrations have begun to show in everyday interactions.
Not to mention that the travel sector provides approximately $9 Trillion of financial impact on the world’s GDP (10.9% of global GDP), and provides 330 million jobs worldwide (way too many jobs at risk right now).
Not a sustainable situation for much longer!
On a positive note, vaccines are being rolled out as fast as they can be produced, testing has increased and airlines, airports as well as hotels have stepped up their preventive measures to reduce the risk of viral spread.
In February I went on my first international trip since early 2020. I took all possible precautions: I got tested just before going to the airport, wore masks at all times, washed and sanitized my hands frequently. I also chose an airline that implemented the new HVAC filters on all their planes as well as serious Covid-19 preventive measures (you can read the blog post on cabin air here). I selected a hotel that had detailed information about their special cleaning and sterilization procedures as well.
I obviously also brought my Travel Safety Kit ☺
Prior to booking my trip I did a lot of research; you can find links to some of the resources I used at the end of this blog article.
I was tested again before getting on my return flight, and upon landing at my home airport before going through customs. Finally, I went on mandatory home quarantine once safely back at my house.
I was a little apprehensive about the trip before going. How complicated was it going to be? Were the preventive measures enough? Were people going to wear masks? Would I catch the coronavirus anyway?
I am happy to tell you that it was actually quite easy. The cabin was sanitized, all the airports I went through had cleaning staff constantly sanitizing public areas and toilets, and everyone wore masks. The hotel cleaned my room using 70% sanitizer, I had to leave the room while they cleaned, and they opened windows and doors as well.
The airport, airline, hotel and testing staff were very professional and while my home airport was pretty empty at 6AM in the morning, the connecting airport was as busy as ever.
The only difference at check-in was the validation of my negative Covid-19 test, it was also checked upon arrival at my destination.
In some of the airports I went through, restaurants had some restrictions in terms of seating, however, going through security was a breeze.
Obviously wearing a mask while on the plane took a little getting used to, but I had three different types of mask/respirator with me, safely stored in my travel kit, so I could switch as needed.
There was some waiting time for the tests, but it was manageable and results were fast (20-30 min). I had ordered groceries online for delivery the day I returned home and while the quarantine was a little problematic (my whole family had to join me), all-in-all it was a very positive experience, and I felt safe.
Most importantly, I did not catch Covid-19 ☺
In my personal opinion, the main challenge for travel to come back is the mandatory quarantine required by many countries. If not for that, I felt that it was simple enough and even with wearing a mask, it was enjoyable.
With vaccination programs, easy access to rapid tests in airports, both land -and airside, and a Travel Pass such as IATA’s (you can read about the IATA Travel Pass here), I am confident that the quarantine requirements will be lifted by many countries sometime before the summer.
I definitely cannot wait to get back in the air and go see the people, cities and countries I miss so much!
Covid-19 travel information you may find useful:
I flew with KLM, here are links to their Covid-19 prevention measures: https://www.klm.com/travel/us_en/prepare_for_travel/up_to_date/flight_update/index.htm
I transited through Amsterdam Schiphol airport, here is a link to their Covid-19 prevention measures: https://www.schiphol.nl/en/page/coronavirus/
I read a lot on IATA’s Corona virus information page: https://www.iata.org/en/youandiata/travelers/health/