In this new COVID-era, we have all learnt to adapt in every aspect of our lives. While travel is slowly picking up, its still an uncertain and difficult year for travel. From getting tested to other travel requirements to travel bans and PPE – the travel world looks very different now. Countries and airlines are constantly changing their rules and requirements, so planning travel is certainly a lot harder than it used to be. Keeping informed of these updates are super imperative if you ever plan to travel in the future.
As a disclaimer – this post is in no way written to encourage you to travel right now, that is a decision you will have to make for yourself based on your circumstances. Whether you are open to traveling now or not, I wanted to write this post to share my tips and insights based on my recent experiences with regards to testing requirements , to keep in mind while planning any future travel.
If you are planning a trip or curious about travel in the near future, here are my Tips for Covid 19 Testing requirements for Travel :
1 ) DOING THE GROUNDWORK ON FINDING OUT ABOUT TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS :
Every country and/or airline might have different travel and testing requirements. In this new age of COVID era travel it is so essential to be aware of all the requirements needed for :
- your destination
- as well as your home country for your return.
With full disclosure I am used to doing a ton of groundwork when it comes to planning travel in general, being on a non US passport. Before any international travel we always have to find out if we need a visa to go there or not, is there visa on arrival or do we have to apply in advance, etc. So now the additional legwork of finding out about requirements and testing seems second nature to my process of planning!
My tips on finding out about current travel requirements for destinations is this :
- most reliable option – go to the official tourism board of the country or the airline’s website. They will most likely have their restrictions mentioned there. If you have any questions – email or call them. I have done this several times.
- if you are staying at a hotel or going with a tour/travel advisor ; ask them for current rules and restrictions
- Check out App in the Air – they have a very detailed list of current restrictions for countries and airlines that they update regularly.
2 ) GETTING COVID TESTED PRE TRAVEL :
Many international destinations and some airlines are requiring a negative COVID test to travel which in my opinion is the most responsible thing to do. Even if it isn’t required I think it is essential to get tested prior to flying so that we can all be responsible travelers. Test details might completely vary in these aspects :
- Type of test required – PCR, rapid antigen, antibody, etc. Find out exactly what type of test your destination/airline requires.
- How much in advance you should get tested – many destinations/airlines will clearly specify this and mention no more than 5 days before or no more than 3 days before, no more than 72 hours before (different from 3 days as the actual hour matters in this case), etc.
- How they want the test results to be shown – some airlines and destinations want you to upload your results online prior to check in, others might check it at the airport. So its helpful to keep informed on all of this.
- Details they want on the test – most destinations mention that the test needs to show specific details like name, DOB, testing centre details, time of test, time of results, etc
My tests on getting Covid tested Pre Travel :
- find out all details as I mentioned above. Don’t hesitate to call/email your airline and destination to fully understand the requirements needed.
- find a reliable center to get the correct test that you need – speak to your doctor, other locals, look up tripadvisor forums etc to find the best place to get tested at your home. Keep in mind that some places charge for tests, some might be free. It totally depends from state to state.
- print your results and all the details before going to the airport. Airlines are very hard pressed on actually seeing physical copies for the most part so having hardcopies is very helpful.
3 ) CHOOSING THE RIGHT DAY TO TRAVEL :
After having done a few trips during the pandemic, I am listing this as an essential step in my planning process! Many testing centers are closed on weekends so based on how much in advance you need to get tested, definitely account for this while choosing what day or time to depart on.
4 ) QUARANTINE OR COVID TESTING UPON ARRIVAL (if needed) :
Some destinations require a quarantine or covid test upon arrival, its important to be aware of this prior to planning your trip. For instance, Bermuda needed us to undergo a covid test upon arrival and quarantine for a day until we got our results, whereas French Polynesia required no quarantine but a mandatory self test taken on day 4.
5 ) COVID TESTING PRIOR TO RETURN BACK TO YOUR HOME COUNTRY :
If your home country or airline that you are flying requires you to test you will have to plan for this way in advance! With the US now requiring a negative COVID 19 test taken within 3 days of departure for all international arrivals (and there are talks that COVID 19 testing might be required for domestic travel too), finding out whether your there is reliable testing availability in your destination for your return is so important. Even vaccinated travelers would need to show a negative test for now. While I am relieved that these new rules certainly adds additional layers of safety for travel, it definitely makes it trickier to plan travel. Check out this article for all that you need to know about testing to return back to the US.
My quick tips to find out how to get a COVID test prior to travel back home :
- check on the destination’s official tourism board website on testing options at the destination
- speak with your hotel , tour operator etc as they will be aware of new updates and testing options available to their guests. On the bright side – I have noticed that many destinations and hotels around the world especially ones that rely heavily on tourism have partnered with local labs and testing facilities to make reliable quick departure tests viable for travelers.
- Usually these tests are charged, so be aware of the costs (Could be $100 – $300 depending on the destination, type of test, turnaround time etc). Again here, many hotels are offering perks like “free covid test” with every booking. Haha the Covid test is now the value added perk that we all want!
- If in the rare case you do turn up positive you will need to be ready for an extended trip in quarantine before you can fly back home, so knowing this risk is essential. For this reason especially, travel insurance is an absolute must (more on that below).
Update May 11 2021
CDC now approves at home antigen tests, that are supervised virtually by a healthcare professional, for travel back into the US. This is SO convenient as you can just pack an antigen test with you, test yourself in hotel room by calling the virtual nurse, and get your result in 15 minutes. This is especially useful if you are travelling to remote places or places where testing capabilities are not as fast/efficient or reliable. The Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag test is the recommended test for this – it is $150 for a 6 pack ( $25/test) ; which makes it so much more affordable then testing at hotels ( usually $150 – $200+ per test!).
6 ) COVID TESTING & QUARANTINE POST TRAVEL :
Whether required or not, we have always been diligent to test and quarantine post travel. The US also now requires you to quarantine for a minimum of 7 days post travel. We usually quarantine for 10 days post travel and test on the 5th day after arriving.
7 ) TRAVEL INSURANCE :
Many destinations require you to have mandatory travel insurance; but whether it is required or not – it is such an essential thing to have during travel these days. Make sure your insurance covers all pandemic related costs. Check out World Nomads for more.
For more Safety tips in flying during the pandemic – check out my blog post here.
Thanks for stopping by! xoxo