Insider international travel tips for the new normal

Insider international travel tips for the new normal

Published on 4th November, 2021 at 08:58 am

Ready to start exploring the world again? Here are some pro travel tips to help you adjust to jet-setting in the ‘new normal’.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic last year, the world has been in (and out of) lockdown. This put all international travel on hold, resulting in an enormous blow to the tourism industry the world over. In 2020, the number of tourists visiting SA dropped by 73%. This is a huge knock when considering that this sector constitutes upward of 3% towards our national GDP.

Thankfully, since the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and borders being reopened, we can finally start exploring the globe once more. The South African government also hopes to vaccinate 67% of the population by the end of 2021 in a bid to achieve herd immunity. This doesn’t mean, however, that things will go back to how they were when it comes to international travel.

As a Reality Access for Fedhealth member, you have complimentary International Travel Insurance for claims of up to R5 million – at no extra cost to you.

Inside info

Natalie Mulvaney, known best for her travel and lifestyle blog, Tails of a Mermaid, has done her fair share of jet-setting, both pre-COVID-19 and during the new normal. She notes that there have been a number of changes to travel since before the start of the pandemic. “Travelling – especially when going abroad – requires more planning and preparation than ever before,” she explains. “To add, many countries are currently not issuing visas, so trips have to revolve around destinations that don’t require them.” Mulvaney also suggests preparing for a lot more waiting than usual. “In my experience, the airport checking-in process and passport control takes a lot longer than it did in the past.”

Want to know what it’s like to take an international flight during COVID-19? Find out here.

Be prepared

Before jetting off on a tropical escape, there are some things you need to do before you will be able to travel. “The first thing to do is to get the COVID-19 vaccination,” she says. “But this doesn’t mean that you won’t have to take a test 24-72 hours prior to departure and present your negative PCR result with a TT code at the airport before being allowed to board.” And while you are busy with vaccinations, make sure that any other necessary shots are also taken care of, such as yellow fever, which is needed for several countries, including Brazil, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.

Other top travel tips Mulvaney recommends is keeping back-ups of your paperwork and taking out insurance for your trip. “Make sure you have a copy of your travel documents, such as your passport, ticket and vaccination certificate, backed up on a cloud platform, like Google Drive,” she suggests. “It’s also a good idea to insure your trip in the event of sudden travel bans or lockdowns that may see you out of pocket.”

Get used to wearing a mask for extended periods. “Airlines that serve food and beverages during flights allow passengers to remove their masks to eat,” says Mulvaney. “But passengers are required to put them back on and wear them correctly for the duration of the flight.”

Perfect packing

When going on a long-haul flight, packing practically can make your journey significantly easier. And since we are not out of the grips of the pandemic just yet, keeping things simple can alleviate stress. Mulvaney has mastered the art of perfect packing. Here is her ultimate checklist:

Hand luggage

  • Fully charged cellphone, with images of my ticket, negative COVID-19 test results and passport backed up in my photo album for easy access.
  • An empty water bottle to fill after I’ve been through security.
  • Hand sanitiser spray
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Clean spare masks in a resealable bag
  • A compact travel blanket (blankets are not being provided by airlines due to the coronavirus)

Main luggage

  • Medication with a copy of the prescription.
  • My cosmetics in resealable zipper bags inside my toiletry bag.
  • My shoes inside a shoe bag to prevent them from getting my clothes dirty.
  • My clothes in packing cubes: tops, bottoms, dresses, workout gear, pyjamas, swimwear, underwear and warm clothes.

Want to ensure you’re properly covered when travelling abroad? Take note of these five things to tick off your travel insurance checklist before travelling.

What to know before you go

Before you book your flights, there are some things you should check first. “Make sure that everything you book is either refundable or re-bookable at no additional fee in case anything changes before you travel,” recommends Mulvaney. “It’s also important to find out exactly what your destination requires of you before you travel. Some countries only require a negative PCR test, while others require a full vaccination.”

Emirates have compiled a regularly updated list of travel requirements by country. Click here to find out what you need to do to streamline the process. Looking to book that much-needed holiday? Reality Health and Reality Plus members enjoy up to 25% off Emirates flights. Learn more here.

Want to go on an overseas adventure with peace of mind? As a Reality Access for Fedhealth member, you have free International Travel Insurance as one of your benefits. Get complimentary travel insurance for up to 45 days, valued at R5 million for emergency medical and related expenses.

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