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The Covid travel checklist: What to know before you go

While our suitcases have been gathering dust over the past 16 months, the travel industry has been rapidly adapting to cope with the demands of the new Covid era.

This means that if you’re making your first flight for a while, things may be very different from what you’ve previously been used to.

It’s no longer just about packing your power adapter and making sure your shampoo is in little bottles. We’ve put together this Covid Travel Checklist with everything you now need to think about before you set off.

Planning where to go

1. More travel doors are open worldwide to those who can prove they’re fully vaccinated, with the typical requirement being that 14 days must have elapsed since your second jab.

Not all vaccines are equal, so you will need to check that the brand you’ve received — and sometimes even the batch number — are accepted by the destination you hope to visit.

2. Thoroughly check the entry restrictions for all the destinations you wish to visit, or transit through, and keep checking them — right up to when you travel, and while on the trip itself. And if you’re planning to travel around inside a country, remember that different regions might have different rules. CNN Travel’s Unlocking the World guides are a good place to start.

3. Remember that while you might be allowed into a country, life may still be far from normal there. Do your homework beforehand to find out what tourism attractions and hospitality services are open, and where and when mask-wearing is mandatory.

4. Book flexible, refundable flights and accommodation wherever possible, or reconsider the trip. And don’t neglect to get up-to-date travel insurance — some destinations require it before entry (be sure to check the Covid-19 small print).

Budgeting

1. Remember cheap vacations and budget flights? Well, those won’t be coming back for a while. Expect or prepare for price hikes when it comes to the cost of flights, car hire, accommodation, food, drink and just about everything.

2. Check how many Covid-19 tests you might be required to take and how much each of them will cost. If there is the possibility that travel rules could change mid-trip and you’ll be required to self-isolate at home or undergo a mandatory stay at a designated hotel, this is something you’ll need to factor in too.

Packing

1. Confirm well in advance what documentation will need to be presented at different legs of your journey and print out anything for which hard copies are required (or simply as back-up).

Depending where you are in the world and where you’re going, check travel requirements and download any apps that are required or recommended and load them up with the relevant information.

2. On top of your regular packing checklist, two new additions we’d recommend are disposable face masks and a small bottle of hand sanitizer you can take in your carry-on.

3. Pack your (empty) refillable water bottle in your hand luggage as usual, but bear in mind that due to Covid-19 precautions water fountains may or may not be back in operation at the airports you visit.

4. It’s likely that not all of your favorite airport restaurants and stores will be open as usual, so it might not be possible to pick up last-minute items such as toiletries or particular meals and snacks. If it’s an item you 100% need for your journey, purchase it before you travel.

Heading to the airport

If you were a frequent pre-Covid flier, chances are you had a tried-and-tested route to the airport, knowing just how much time you needed to leave before setting out. You might need to rethink that.

1. If your journey to the airport involves public transport, services may be less frequent than pre-Covid. There are also driver shortages in many cities when it comes to taxis and ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, meaning longer wait times and high fares.

2. Once you’re at the airport, there may be delays to your journey due to Covid-19 testing wait times and the implementation of social distancing measures.

3. An airline you previously used frequently may have changed their travel rules since you last flew with them. For example, some airlines — such as Ireland’s Aer Lingus — are cutting back on free cabin baggage, so you will need to choose whether to put your 10 kilogram bag in the hold for free or pay extra to take it on board.

If you put it in the hold, you’ll need to allow for extra time at check-in and at the end of your flight.

At the airport

While you might see other passengers disregarding them, social distancing measures will certainly be in place at the airports you travel through.

1. Please allow space for other passengers, and give people plenty of space in line at security and other travel checkpoints. If you see other passengers not doing the same, do your best to relax — you’re on vacation, after all.

On board

1. You’ll be expected to wear face masks while on board, so make sure to choose masks you feel comfortable in that meet the airline requirements. Disposable masks are the simplest choice so that you can change to a fresh one periodically.2. Not all airlines are taking the step of blocking middle seats to prevent Covid-19 transmission, so if that’s a priority for you, do your research beforehand and prepare to pay a bit extra with a premium carrier.3. Practically all airlines, however, will have reduced their inflight service, so check beforehand to see what will be available and if you need to book meals in advance or notify the airline of dietary requirements.4. Bear in mind that many airlines won’t accept anything other than contactless payments, so have your bank card or phone ready for in-cabin purchases.5. The cabin crew will also be keen to reduce passenger movement in flight, so you may not be able to get up and stretch as often as you’ll have been used to. Use lavatory facilities on the ground before you board and bring any travel pillows or other requirements to make sure you can settle in comfortably when you’re on board.

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Written by Thathsara

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