Millions of people are returning to their home countries after varying durations of stay overseas. These include migrant workers, students, doctors, other professionals, and their dependents. International Travel is not the same as it was a few months back. Here are some pointers on what to expect and how to prepare for it.
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After long weeks of bans on cross-border travels, most nations have eased restrictions. In many cases, the move is specifically aimed to allow stranded foreign workers to return home. This comes with a new set of precautions and measures. Expect temperature screenings and oximeter tests at the entry points of airports. Additional tests and sanitization procedures are being conducted at key checkpoints inside airports. Security personnel is enforcing WHO-recommended social distancing guidelines. These consist of maintaining a distance of 6 feet when standing in queues. Understandably these checks restrict the number of travelers the airports can process. Expect limited availability of flights and extended wait times to enter an airport and to get through security checks.
Be sure to wear a mask that covers the mouth and nose at all times. Periodically wash hands with soap or use a sanitizer with 60% or higher alcohol content. If your travel originates in a region with a high proliferation of COVID-19 cases, expect additional precautions. In some cases, travelers may be quarantined for 14 days at the receiving airport, as per WHO guidelines.
Having accurate and updated travel documents can save significant time and trouble. The obvious ones are your passport, visas, travel tickets, and boarding passes, which will be verified at various checkpoints during the journey. Essentials such as a compact toiletries kit, soap, and sanitizer would help make your travel hygienic and convenient. Also, make sure to carry along any medication you take. In case of non-OTC prescription medication which may be unavailable in your destination country, be sure to carry along the doctor’s prescription while traveling. These can come in handy at customs. Account for possible travel delays and carry the required dosage. Note that most airlines do not allow fluid containers larger than 3.4oz in cabin bags. Carry travel essentials in a clear plastic bag for ease and speed during security checks.
Several countries require arriving international travelers to bring certificates of vaccination against certain diseases (such as yellow fever). Check local regulations and get the required vaccinations in advance of travel. Finally, it may be wise to get travel insurance. Being insured helps minimize financial damage in case of unforeseen events such as medical emergencies and extended delays.
Most shops now prefer contactless payments. Many simply refuse to take cash. The most widely accepted way to pay vendors at airports is via scan-and-pay apps. Google Pay is one of the more popular digital wallets. However, internet connectivity can be a challenge, particularly for long-distance travelers crossing international borders. Keep your credit/debit cards handy as a backup pay mode.
Be sure not to carry too much cash while traveling internationally. Doing so can cause unnecessary delays at customs checkpoints. Instead send money online conveniently to a bank account in your destination country, well in advance of your travel. This will also ensure that you get the optimum exchange rate for your income earned abroad.
Phones are ubiquitous and essential. We use our phones not just to communicate but also to send/receive important documents and to pay via digital wallets. Phones and other devices require chargers. However, charging points are not the same in every country. Depending on your origin and destination countries, carrying a travel adapter or two may be helpful. Moreover, certain gadgets such as battery banks are not allowed in the check-in baggage.
Also note that bringing electronic devices such as TVs, Ipads, and some others can attract import duties at certain airports. For example in India international arrivals at airports such as Delhi and Mumbai must show proof of purchase to customs officials, and may have to pay the duty fees.
The rate of spread of COVID-19 is slowing down worldwide. However, international air travel still remains a major risk. Compared to a total shutdown of global air traffic, the additional precautions necessitated at airports are minor inconveniences. Airline personnel has a difficult job right now. As travelers, we much cooperate with them in every way possible. We should be thankful for whatever limited travel opportunities have become available. After a long wait, many of us can finally get back home and be reunited with our loved ones.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.