It’s probably been a while since you last dusted down your luggage. But the future is – fingers crossed – starting to look a littler rosier and, all being well, you’ll hopefully soon be travelling again. But before you do, there are a number of things you might like to check. The pandemic has turned the world upside down and the “rules” for travel have probably changed since you last made a trip. Not only that, but it would be easy to overlook one or two other details such as your passport’s expiry date if you’ve not used it in a while. Here are a number of checks that we hope will make your next trip run that little more smoothly. And, if you have of your own suggestions, please add them in the comments below.
1. Assess your own personal level of risk and your likely risk to others
International travel won’t be for everyone this year and not necessarily through choice. The virus won’t have gone away, but the risk will hopefully be greatly reduced. Still, for some people, that risk may still be a significant one, whether it be because they are in an ‘at risk’ group and unable to get a vaccination just yet or simply because they don’t want to put others close to them at increased danger. To travel or not to travel, that is the question. But, government restrictions aside, only you can really make that choice.
2. Check on when and where you can and can’t travel
Some countries will be welcoming visitors with open arms whilst others will be closing their borders to all but essential travel. Identify ‘travel corridors’ – those countries that you can travel to without the need to quarantine on your return. Furthermore, be aware that the rules can change and one destination that is OK to visit now might not be in a couple of months (see sections on booking terms and conditions and travel insurance later), so flexibility may be key.
3. Check the travel and entry requirements
Does your airport/airline require you to wear a mask? (In all probability, the answer to that is a resounding ‘yes’ so make sure you have one!) Do you need a PCR test? Do you need proof of vaccination? Do you need to complete a Passenger Locator Form detailing which countries you have visited recently? Be aware of exactly what the requirements are for you, not only when you travel but also when you arrive at your destination. And keep a close eye on this as time passes as the requirements may change in response to changing government policies and/or changing circumstances with the virus.
4. Check your passport
Firstly, do you know where it is? If you’ve not used it in a while, as will be the case for most people, you might like to double check that it’s still where you thought it was. Secondly, is it still in date?
When applying for a provisional driving license for one of our sons recently, we had to provide a passport number so that the DVLA could run some checks. It was at this point, we double checked the status of all our passports and noticed that our other son’s passport was due to expire in June. Don’t forget that you need at least 6 months left on your passport to travel to certain countries.
It’s a good idea to be ahead of the game and check your passport now, before people suddenly starting booking trips again and passports need urgently renewing in large numbers. There could well be a backlog which could inevitably mean delays.
5. Check your booking terms and conditions
It goes without saying that now is a time when it’s more advisable than ever to read the small print. What exactly are the terms and conditions of your booking? What is the policy when it comes to refunds? Seek clarification before you book if there’s anything you are not sure about.
6. Check where you stand with your employer
If you are employed, it might be wise to check with your employer what would happen if you were unable to travel back or if you had to quarantine on your return.
7. Use a credit card when booking
Credit card purchases can provide you with added protection should a trip be cancelled or if a company goes into administration.
8. Check your health insurance
Check your health insurance. If you are a UK citizen travelling to Europe, and have a UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) it will be valid until the expiry date on the card. Once it expires, you’ll need to apply for a GHIC to replace it. It is free to apply for a GHIC via the NHS website. (There are sites out there that charge a fee to help with your application but they are really not necessary.)
9. Check your travel insurance
It’s imperative that you have adequate travel insurance. See our COVID-19 coronavirus travel insurance post for details of some insurance providers offering cover, but again read the small print so that you are clear on exactly what is and isn’t covered. Policies and extent of cover will vary enormously. Make sure you find a policy that you hare happy with and provides you with the cover you need. Note that GHIC and EHIC do not replace travel insurance.
10. Be aware of safety requirements at your destination
Think about the safety requirements for where you’re travelling to as these can vary from one country to another. In your country, there might be a stipulation that you keep at least one metre distance from other people, but in another country it might be two metres, so be aware of any such differences. In some countries, you might only need to wear a mask indoors where in others you may need to wear one whenever you venture out. And in some countries, there may even be regional variations. Make sure you are aware of the requirements and stay safe.
Any other suggestions? I’m sure this isn’t an exhaustive list but hopefully I’ve given plenty of food for thought. Please use the comments below to share your feedback or to offer some of your own suggestions. Thank you and safe travels!