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After a difficult year and limited travel options, I’m heading out on a week-long wellness vacation in the Caribbean in January, but traveling during this time comes with its own unique challenges. If you are thinking of traveling overseas from the UK anytime soon, these are some of the things to consider.
Like many others, I have lost loved ones, suffered financially from vacation, and had mental health issues while trying to remotely support as many friends and family members as possible.
I kept a gratitude journal and increased my focus on my physical and mental health to get through, meditate daily, and discover swimming in open water, but I feel like I have survived and not thriving.
I am infinitely grateful that I still have a roof over my head and a source of income, not only that, but I am fortunate enough to travel and, given the challenges of 2020, I am very much looking forward to an upcoming trip, but travel during a pandemic poses some challenges.
A wellness glamping retreat in Antigua
I realize that I am fortunate enough to be able to promote my well-being in this way, so I am going to the Caribbean for a week on a beach in Antigua at Wild Lotus Glamping.
This trip has been in my diary for a few months and acts like a beacon of hope, especially in the face of what already feels like a dreary and dreary winter dragging on. As someone who usually travels a lot and has a low level of boredom, it was difficult not to be able to travel throughout 2020.
I have come to realize that I have complex coping mechanisms that support my mental health. Travel is one of the things that nourishes my soul and for almost the whole year I have been battling an intense feeling of claustrophobia, making me feel like a caged bird. I’m grateful for local walks and the few camping and glamping trips I’ve managed this year, of course, but none of the usual big adventures happened.
Considerations When Traveling During a Pandemic
In January my cage doors will finally be opened wide and I will be flying for the first time in 14 months to cure this travel itch and support my well-being.
So what about a global pandemic creating travel plans in the age of Covid-19?
These are some of the additional considerations to keep in mind when creating travel plans.
1. Travel insurance could cost more
Of course, travel insurance is always a must, but I noticed that my usual annual coverage had increased by around £ 30. I did shopping, of course, but every insurer I looked at had prices significantly higher than my annual coverage costs last year.
I don’t know if this is just a coincidence, but I suspect that travel insurance premiums have increased in response to the travel uncertainty caused by Covid.
I would recommend making sure you have travel insurance before booking any trip as well. Also, read the fine print and booking terms for Covid-19 and use a credit card if possible for extra protection.
2. You probably need an expensive PCR Covid test
I had never heard of a PCR test until I saw a blog from Blue Bay Travel about traveling to the Caribbean during the pandemic. The author mentioned that a PCR test was required before flying, which is why I looked into that.
It turns out that a PCR test is different from the standard Covid test. Additionally, you can expect to pay anywhere from £ 120 to £ 350 for a PCR test. Depending on where you are flying to, there are strict rules about how this can be done and when it is required.
For example, some locations require a test no more than 72 hours prior to travel, while other locations offer a milder time scale of 7 days. Some countries require a doctor’s letter and do not accept results from swabs that are brought home and mailed. So be very careful here as the lack of a valid PCR test can mean that you will be denied entry.
For Antigua and Barbuda, a PCR test is currently required no more than 7 days prior to the flight date and it cannot be a home test. There are few clinics in the UK that offer quick turnaround, but that’s a few hundred pounds. I know some Well pharmacies offer PCR tests which can be booked online and cost £ 120 at the time of writing.
It is important to mention that the airline I booked my flights with (British Airways) did not provide any information about the need for a PCR test before or after I booked my flight.
3. Travel advice changes frequently
Before booking anything, visit gov.uk website and the official travel advice for the country you plan to visit.
It is difficult to keep track of travel advisories as they change frequently. However, if you google the country you want to visit + “Travel Restrictions” or + “Travel Entry Requirements” you will find the latest information.
4. Limited airport services
I’m flying to Antiqua from Gatwick Airport. While getting to Gatwick from the north is always a nightmare, every time you arrive at any UK airport you should be aware that social distancing rules currently apply and that there are also limited services, which means that not all restaurants and shops may be available are open.
Check this before your flight and book an airport lounge. Last year before a flight from Manchester Airport to France I booked an airport lounge and found the experience to be much more enjoyable than the usual airport experience.
5. Flight masks and changes to in-flight services
This will vary from airline to airline, but currently BA only offers cold food on their flights. Therefore, do not expect normal food during the flight, even on long-haul flights.
I am not sure why this is so. Serving sandwiches that require refrigeration may not pose a greater risk than serving the usual hot airline meals, but for now dining options are likely to be limited / varied.
Also keep in mind that you will need to wear a mask throughout the flight. So make sure you have a couple of masks with you. (If you’ve been wearing one for several hours, you know they can have low moisture from moisture when you breathe) and make sure they are comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
One thing to add – when we flew back from Venice in September they insisted that passengers had to wear a disposable mask, no reusable cloth masks allowed. The airport sold them, but probably at an inflated price
– Katy 🌦 (@katyish) December 14, 2020
A friend on Twitter helpfully pointed out that reusable cloth masks were not allowed on a European flight in September, only disposable masks. So this is worth considering – I will definitely be bringing some disposable masks just in case!
6. Be prepared for possible self-isolation
Depending on where you are going and where you are flying back to the UK from, you may need to self-isolate when you get home. If you already work from home, this is probably pretty easy to do. However, if you have children who need to go to school, a relative who is busy with something, or doing a job that cannot be done from home, this should be a serious consideration.
Find out the latest travel corridors and arrival information for Covid-19 in the UK. Be aware of that too all UK arrivals must complete a passenger search form.
What is your experience
Did you travel during the pandemic? How was your experience Did you come across anything else I didn’t mention above? It would be great to hear from you in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!
DISCLOSURE | My trip to Antigua is partly self-financed and I pay all travel expenses. The costs for accommodation and retreat are kindly covered by Wild Lotus Glamping.
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Shell loves all things travel and the outdoors, and is a nature-loving, comfortable camping girl. Shell started the Camping with Style blog after a serious snowboarding accident that left her with a broken back. Even so, she used the outdoors and nature’s healing powers to recover, and she continues to spend time outdoors whenever she can.
From swimming in the open water, snowboarding and kayaking to mountain hiking and meditation, Shell shares their travels and micro-adventures here on the blog. In various publications she has written for, Shell has a particular interest in promoting the well-being and the many benefits of natural therapy.
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