When I began work on this website, the coronavirus was not at all on my radar. All of the information I put together for this website was done so assuming that the coronavirus was going to be a minor issue in China and that nothing was going to happen to the worldwide travel industry. How could anyone predict a global pandemic, after all?
Well, a lot has changed with regards to travel because of COVID-19 and as a result, there is a lot of new information that needs to be provided in order to stay safe while traveling and know what limitations you have if you do decide to travel because until there is a vaccine readily available, traveling will not be the same as before.
That’s why, on this page I will provide you with all the information you need to know if you plan to travel right now. In general, travel is not recommended at this time, however if you are willing to take the risks associated with it, then read on to find out what to expect!
So let’s start by talking about the restrictions that are currently in place for the majority of countries around the world. This page is not going to provide information about each country’s specific situation with regards to the coronavirus nor what restrictions they have in place (and nor will the Destination Guides for that matter) since they are constantly changing and it’s impossible for me to keep track of them all on my own.
However, there is a great resource you can use to get this information online and it’s tripsguard.com. They provide entry restrictions, rules, and quarantine information for almost every country in the world. You can find out information for specific countries or if you just want to know which countries have open borders, you can filter the results by Travel Status. The options are Closed For Travel, Partially Open, & Open For Travel.
If a country is Closed For Travel, don’t even think about planning a trip there. However, if it is Partially Open, you may be able to visit provided that you come in from one of the countries that they allow flights to originate from. You’ll have to read the details to understand what to expect and find out:
- Which origin flights and passports are allowed to enter
- If there is a mandatory 14 day quarantine for visitors
- If COVID-19 tests are required to enter the country
- If wearing a mask is obligatory in public
- And what kinds of businesses and attractions are actually in operation
And even if a country is listed as Open For Travel, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t any restrictions in place. It just means that they haven’t placed a restriction on origin flights or passports, but you will still have to read the details to find out what other restrictions they might have in place, such as the ones previously mentioned.
Tripsguard.com is a great website and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to travel during these crazy times.
However, it is important to note that even if a country is open for travel, it still may not be a good idea to travel there since you may not be able to get travel insurance for your trip.
Travel Insurance Restrictions
Travel Insurance has become a hot topic during the coronavirus with many stories of insurance providers not providing coverage for cancelled trips or healthcare costs incurred as a result of the coronavirus so it’s very important to be aware of what has changed because it may make the difference between being covered or not.
Under normal circumstances, most travel insurance providers will not insure you if your country’s government has placed a travel advisory on the country that you plan to visit. Usually, they only do this for countries that are high-risk such as when they are in the middle of a civil war or there is a high amount of terrorism.
However, many governments have now placed travel advisories on other countries as a result of the coronavirus. Some have chosen to place them on coronavirus hotspots whereas others have done so for every country in the world. For example, as of the writing of this guide, the government of Canada has enacted a global travel advisory. They basically said, we do not advise anyone to leave Canada at this time.
What this means is that if I were to try to travel to anywhere outside of Canada, insurance providers would not cover me if something were to happen on my trip because it would go against my government’s travel advisory. This is a really big deal and an important issue to be aware of because it requires you to decide whether or not you’re willing to risk traveling without being insured.
If your government has a travel advisory in place for the country you want to visit, then you most likely will not be able to get travel insurance for your trip. And if you have read my Guide to Travel Insurance, you already know how I feel about traveling without insurance (spoiler alert: I don’t recommend it) so perhaps consider staying at home if that’s the case.
Okay so now that you’re aware of the restrictions in place as well as the risks involved, let’s talk about what to expect in general.
Traveling by plane is no longer what it used to be. Ticket prices have gone up, airlines have gone bankrupt, and the whole experience has changed.
Starting from when you arrive at the airport, you will be expected to keep your social distance at all times. This leads to much longer lines at security and everywhere else throughout the airport. It is advisable to arrive at least 30 minutes earlier than you usually would to make up for these wait times.
Depending on the airport or country, you may also be asked to fill out an online form before you arrive consisting of questions about where you are flying in from, where you have stayed for the past two weeks, your contact information, and where you will be staying in your destination. Note that you may be required to take a COVID-19 test at the airport based on your responses.
Many airports have also started measuring the body temperatures of travelers to ensure that they don’t have any fever-like symptoms which may indicate that they have the virus (and if you do, you probably won’t be allowed to board your flight). In addition, many of them require masks to be worn at all times and some have even closed their duty-free stores.
As for actually being on the plane, it really depends on the airline. Some airlines are keeping the middle seats free in an effort to minimize the spread of the virus whereas others are not. Some require masks to be worn throughout the flight, others don’t. Some have limited how many beverages are given out or sold on board to limit how many bathroom breaks people take, and some haven’t.
Since there is no universal operating procedure, you will need to research what your airline’s policy is if you want to know what to expect during your flight or if you are concerned about the measures taken by any specific airline. Their websites should have this information.
As for other forms of transportation, it really depends on the country you’re in and the company you’re traveling with. Some require masks, others don’t. Some have installed plastic barriers between seats while others haven’t changed the way they operate at all!
Again, make sure to do your research and look into what the train, bus, or ferry company you plan to travel with has enacted as their coronavirus policy so you know what to expect. And if you’re ridesharing or hitchhiking, it’s up to you and your risk tolerance to decide if entering a stranger’s car is worth the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Most hotels and other forms of accommodation are operating as usual with extra safety precautions being taken such as increased cleaning measures. However, it is still advised that you travel with disinfectant wipes and wipe everything down when you check in so that you can ensure that the surfaces in your room are clean before you touch them.
Buffets and other similar communal areas are most likely not going to be open since they are hotspots for coronavirus transmission. Hostels can also be risky since you are sharing a room with other strangers. Get in touch with your hotel or accommodation provider if you want to get more detailed information on how they are handling the coronavirus.
If you’re staying in an Airbnb/Vrbo or couchsurfing, it’s up to you and your risk tolerance to decide if entering a stranger’s home is worth the risk of contracting the coronavirus. In addition, you now have to pay a monthly fee to be able to use the couchsurfing website.
Things To See & Do
Traveling during the coronavirus will not give you the same travel experience that it used to so you need to be aware of that. It probably goes without saying, but a lot of what would be considered standard tourist attractions are either temporarily not in operation or are operating in limited capacities with many restrictions. Also be aware that public transport might not be in full operation.
In addition, many restaurants might be closed or have limited capacity and most bars and nightclubs probably won’t be open since they are hotspots for coronavirus transmission. All of this depends on the destination so do your research in advance to find out what to expect. Tripguard.com also gives some information with regards to this.
Coronavirus Travel Accessories
As mentioned earlier, traveling with disinfectant wipes is advisable as they help to ensure that surfaces are clean before you touch them. It is also advised to travel with a mask, even if the country you’re visiting doesn’t require them, because they help to prevent the spread of the virus.
However, if you really want to ensure your own safety, it’s recommended to invest in goggles or a face shield. This is because the virus has 3 main ways to enter your body: your mouth, your nose, and your eyes. A mask on its own won’t completely protect you since your eyes are still exposed so this is where a face shield/goggles would come in handy.
In addition, it is also recommended to travel with hand sanitizer as well. This is because many people still get infected even when wearing masks/face shields because most coronavirus transmission occurs when touching your face after touching a surface that had the virus on it and if you’ve ever worn one of these masks or face shields, you’ll know how difficult it is to not have the urge to re-adjust it from time to time. Sanitizing your hands frequently helps minimize the risk of getting the virus when touching your mask or face.
And that’s about it!
The information provided on this page is a mix of my own research and information given to me by friends of mine that are actively traveling at this time since Canada’s travel advisories make it risky for me to leave the country at the moment.
I hope it helped clear up any questions or doubts you may have had about traveling while the coronavirus is still active. Let me know if this guide was helpful in the comments below and I’m also curious to know if you still plan to travel regardless of COVID-19 or if you will be waiting for a vaccine or just things to improve in general!