Travelling, during a pandemic?!
As mentioned, COVID-19 has caused repercussions for millions of people and, as digital nomads, our working lives have been severely disrupted. Luckily, Alice and I have a family home to retreat to until the situation improves. Others haven’t been quite so lucky…
Are you a digital nomad? Are you travelling right now? Pitch us your story!
Although we feel incredibly fortunate to have found shelter, working from our cosy family home in the back-end of nowhere hasn’t been ideal (who knew that Suffolk still lived in the dark ages in terms of WiFi?!).
Consequently, once our client base had stabilised again, and after 4 months of being grounded at home, we decided to take it upon ourselves to discover if it is indeed safe to travel during a pandemic.
We put a lot of thought and research into this, weighed up the risks, and changed our style of travelling completely to ensure maximum security. And now, since we made it back in one piece, we’ll elaborate on the steps we took, which we hope will help you to decide if it is safe for you to do the same.
OUR GUIDE TO TRAVELLING SAFELY DURING A PANDEMIC
What are the risks when travelling during a pandemic?
1. Risk to yourself
Are you in an at-risk group? Do you have any underlying conditions? And just as importantly, do you suffer from anxiety or hypochondria?
As you are increasing your travel and contact with other people, you are putting yourself at risk. Even within your own country, you increase your risk by travelling around more, visiting different places, and interacting with different people. It simply amplifies your chances of contracting corona.
2. Risk of transmitting the virus
Let’s say you do contract the virus whilst travelling, the fact that you are still moving around means that you’ll subsequently start spreading the virus everywhere you travel. Not ideal.
3. Risk of visiting a country with lockdown/quarantine measures
Some countries are still in lockdown or have reintroduced quarantine control measures, such as closing down restaurants, galleries, museums, and even public transport. You may turn up and find that there is nothing there for you to do, making the whole trip pointless.
What’s more, some countries might require visitors to quarantine after their arrival, meaning that you can’t leave your accommodation and explore.
4. Risk of being unwelcome
Some countries may see tourists as a risk, so you may not be well received.
5. Risk of bringing the virus back home
How safe is your travel destination, is there a chance that you might bring the virus back home? Are there any quarantine measures in place in your country? If not, perhaps consider self-quarantining when you get back anyway. Do you have any at-risk family members and friends that you will need to avoid?
Weigh up the risks
With all that in mind, weigh it up in your head. Do you feel like you are causing unnecessary harm to yourself or others, just to satisfy your need to travel?
Alice and Lucy’s coronavirus travel risk assessment
To give you an example of the types of thing you should consider before travelling during the coronavirus pandemic, we have provided our own travel risk assessment for your perusal:
- Risk to yourself
Alice and I are both fit and healthy, with no underlying health conditions. However, we will arm ourselves with the correct knowledge and equipment to avoid infection. We have also chosen a country that has a low case rate and a small chance of exposure.
- Risk of transmitting the virus
We have been living in the middle of nowhere, with barely any human contact (can’t wait for this all to be over so we can go dance the night away with our friends) and have had all of our food delivered to the house, which means that we present a low risk of coronavirus transmission.
- Risk of visiting a country with lockdown/quarantine measures
Montenegro (our chosen travel destination) has few cases of coronavirus, which are mainly contained within their capital city. The country has promised to keep its borders open because tourism is such a huge part of their economy.
The country’s hospitality industry is currently open for business. However, if they do reintroduce lockdown measures, then there are plenty of hikes to keep us busy. Additionally, if we find ourselves confined to our accommodation, we have picked an AirBnB with a private beach, so we can simply enjoy ourselves by relaxing by the sea.
- Risk of being unwelcome
Once again, we have our own private residence if we need it but we are prepared mentally to deal with any hostility that we might experience whilst out and about. We have hired a private car to get around so we minimise our contact with locals.
- Risk of bringing the virus back home
We deliberately picked a country where there will be limited contact with other people. All we want to do is hike up mountains, swim in the sea, and enjoy local wine and homemade vegan food for a week! Nevertheless, we will take all precautions whilst travelling, avoid social events for at least 2 weeks after we return, and self-quarantine at home.
How did we know where to go?
In order to create our coronavirus travel risk assessment, you may have noticed that we had already done some research. This is really essential to ensure that you stay safe and secure whilst you enjoy your trip!
Here are some tips to help you choose your next travel destination:
Which country to visit during the pandemic
Does anyone actually know what we can and can’t do in the UK anymore? Us neither! Lockdown rules are confusing enough in our own countries, let alone elsewhere. So, how do we find out where we’re allowed to go and what the rules are?
There are a number of websites that can help you decide which country to visit during the coronavirus outbreak (for more helpful resources, check out the links at the end of this article):
World Nomads – for worldwide travel alerts, travel restrictions, coronavirus lockdown measures, and border closures.
Gov.uk (Foreign Travel Advice) – for up-to-date coronavirus pandemic travel advice from a UK national’s perspective. The website also provides advice on what to do upon return to the UK.
Travel.Safe.Gov – for up-to-date COVID-19 country information and travel advisories from a US national’s perspective. The website also provides advice on what to do upon return to the US.
Where to stay during the coronavirus pandemic
Alice and I both usually Couchsurf our way around the world and, although we heartily recommend it as one of the best ways to travel, it’s probably not the best idea right now if you want to lower your risk of coronavirus exposure.
Therefore, it’s probably best to find somewhere private to stay. There are plenty of chain hotels offering thoroughly cleaned hotel rooms but we preferred to support independently-owned accommodation and chose ours through AirBnB (sign up to get £50 off your first trip and help us get £16 off our next adventure).
How to travel during the COVID-19 outbreak (plane, train, bus, car, bike?)
If possible, we recommend travelling by private vehicle (we hired a car whilst in Montenegro) because it avoids close proximity to other people and limits exposure. Alternatively, a long-distance bike trip would be a great way to travel right now! Nevertheless, depending on where you are and where you want to go, these methods of transport might not be possible.
In which case, you may have to travel by plane, train, or bus!
But don’t worry, transport companies are actively encouraging travellers to use their services again and are therefore trying their best to reduce the risk of transmission. Social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing are commonly enforced measures and hand sanitiser stations are placed in and around stations/airports (although we recommend taking your own, just in case).
For more information about any specific coronavirus infection control, it’s best to check out individual travel company websites. For example, EasyJet has plenty of information on what they are doing to prevent transmission, including reduced in-flight bistro services, limited seats on planes, boarding and disembarkation controls, and HEPA filters to replace the air every 3-4 minutes.
Once again, it’s up to you to weigh up the risks of where you are travelling to and the risk of COVID-19 exposure whilst getting to and from your chosen destination.
You’ve done your research and you are confident you’ve made the right choice. So what next?
We know you must have itchy feet, we certainly did (and still do)! But, even if travel is in your blood, it’s never been more important to plan carefully. Protecting yourself and others should be the priority.
Therefore, before you go, make sure you have read the World Health Organisation’s coronavirus advice for the public.
VEGAN SISTERS’ SUMMARY:
Is it safe to travel during a pandemic?
COVID-19 Official Resources
We haven’t written this article with the intention of giving advice on how to keep yourself safe during the virus, rather, we want to show you how we took precautions and reduced the risks involved.
If you are looking for official advice on how to protect yourself during the pandemic, please read the following guides/resources: