Cognising travel in times of a pandemic 

While airlines might be dropping prices in a bid to attract customers and you may see your acquaintances, friends or family post real-time photos of their vacation from the plane or hotel, or you may even know of someone who is about to go on a trip despite the harsh warnings, it’s important to remember that it is dangerous. Travel and health experts suggest that it’s best to stay home. The person travelling may not understand the gravity of the situation and would also believe that they are travelling to a safe destination; the reality is that during a pandemic, no destination worldwide is safe.

Interpreting the importance of your travel during this time: 

1. Understanding the Global Scenario  Before planning a trip, understanding the global scenario is essential. During a pandemic, most of the countries are affected. Hence, countries may take drastic actions like banning entry, suspending visas or flights, or in worst cases, imposing a complete travel ban. Air carriers might have their own response to such pandemic which can contribute to cancellations, delays or alterations in the flight schedule, hence everyone should contact the air carriers for direct information. Hotels, airlines and other facilities do accommodate alterations and cancellations during pandemics. It’s better to check with your travel agent, hotel partner or airline directly for the same. Cruise liners are best avoided during any pandemic. There may also be a specific need for quarantine upon entry into a new country, extensive lockdowns may involve malls, beaches, clubs and other entertainment centres to be shut. However medical facilities and banks would continue to operate. It’s best to keep yourself updated from the website of WHO (World Health Organisation) before planning anything. 

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2. Understanding the urgency of your travel  While you may not be able to travel at all during a pandemic due to the flight restrictions, if you contact the embassies, special exclusions can be made based on your urgency. It’s best to avoid non-essential travel like simply vacationing or travelling for a business purpose as firstly, you won’t be able to because of the restrictions, and secondly it’s not going to be considered as a special exclusion. Reasons like death in the family, travelling for a medical treatment or travelling for government work is only given preference and assistance to. Older adults or anyone with a serious chronic medical condition, should postpone any upcoming trips. 

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3. Crucial health tips if it’s urgent to travel- Before you travel, you have to be sure that you are asymptomatic of any fever, cough, cold or any infection. Make sure you have a topped up, heavy travel insurance which is valid globally and be sure to use contactless payment methods for everything. If you go somewhere, be honest about any symptoms and don’t lie to any airport security about where you’ve been and about your health. Airports are a lot quieter during pandemics with fewer people travelling and more flights being cancelled. It’s best to take all possible precautions with gloves, sanitisers and masks and practicing social distancing with frequent hand-washing is ideal. Firstly, try your best to get a window seat as they are exposed to fewer germs than aisle seats. Though most airlines practice extreme precautions by spraying down disinfectants after each flight, it’s still advised to use a wet cloth to wipe everything that’s going to touch you during the flight, including the tv screen. 

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4. Protocols to follow if you’re stuck in a holiday destination and not your home country- While it’s best to take a flight back to your home country before the restrictions are imposed, it might not always be possible. In such cases, it’s advised to stay in touch with your embassy and follow all instructions given. In extreme scenarios, the home country may opt to airlift their citizens. Develop connections with the local health authorities in your location in order to have your own preparedness plan. Although some of the measures to prevent the spread may seem drastic and excessive, care and caution are paramount. Lastly, it’s highly advisable to have an idea about travel insurance and thus I suggest looking at this website for helpful information! 

‘The simplest advice for how to stay safe, is to stay home.’