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Staying Safe While Traveling During a Pandemic

 

Travel safety got serious with the coronavirus, as spikes and lockdowns shut down free movement all across the globe. Is it safe to resume traveling? Let's look at what should and should not worry you about travel during COVID.

Is it Safe to Travel Right Now?

It's a question many ask: how safe is travel these days? Travel does, and always has, come with certain manageable risks. What are they? The U.S. State Department does an excellent job of staying on top of both security and health issues worldwide. Signing up for its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and downloading its app on Apple or Google Play can keep you updated.

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Safety Precautions That Can Reduce the Risks of Contracting COVID:

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  • Steer clear of crowds. COVID-19 usually jumps from person to person through close contact. So stay away from large gatherings and avoid close interactions with people as best you can. Most attractions that draw crowds (museums, zoos, etc.) have put new measures in place to help you enjoy the sites while keeping their attendees safe.
  • Consider the sanitation of where you stay. Dr. Megan Srinivas, an infectious disease specialist, tells the American Medical Association she advises messaging vacation rental managers and hotels to ask about cleaning procedures, capacities, mask regulations and frequency of stays.
  • Focus on outdoor activities. When considering COVID transmission, the difference between being inside and outside is huge. Outdoors, you can more easily distance yourself and there’s free-flowing air. Indoors, you have less-circulated air and lots of surfaces that get touched, increasing the chance of COVID transmission. 
  • Make mealtimes safer. Avoid buffets, as they often involve multiple people touching the same implements and surfaces. Outdoor dining is best, but if you must dine indoors, the World Health Organization suggests looking for spaces that seat a maximum of four people in ten square meters.

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Planning for Non-COVID Emergencies

 

Non-COVID-related injuries can of course occur while traveling, which can be further complicated by COVID-related restrictions such as lockdowns or quarantine rules. Peace of mind is vital here. You’ll want to plan ahead for scenarios in which you might have to navigate an unfamiliar healthcare system or extraordinary travel circumstances. In order to reduce the likely anxiety you’ll feel over receiving care in domestically or internationally, keep the following “what-ifs” in mind while planning your vacation:

  • If you have to leave a country quickly, do you know what to do or who to call first for assistance? 
  • Do you have a plan for potential medical, transportation or security emergencies?
  • Do you know the resources available to you at your destination?
  • Do you know what your insurance coverage entails?
  • Do you have any other protections in place, such as travel insurance coverage or travel assistance memberships, and are you aware of the benefits, services available, out-of-pocket costs, and services that might not be available at your destination (many countries have various levels of emergency services capability)?
  • Have you considered all risks and are you comfortable with your mitigation planning? Driving, for example, is ill-advised in some countries and you can mitigate your accident risk by using trusted and reliable transport providers.
  • Exposure to a natural disaster can be mitigated through proper research. 
  • Areas with active volcanoes, hurricane season in the Atlantic, and countries with histories of earthquakes are all examples of variables that can play into your prevention strategy. 
  • Are you aware of any political unrest, humanitarian crises or other non-medical risks like petty crime and kidnapping in your destination?

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What COVID Travel Restrictions Will I Encounter?

 

Plan for testing even if you’re vaccinated. Many countries require a negative COVID test for all who arrive. And The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires a negative test or documentation of recovery for everyone who enters the United States. As of spring 2021, your vaccination status doesn't free you from these requirements. As part of pre-trip planning, travel assistance can guide you to testing sites all over the world.

Consider the situations on the ground where you're going. With the emergence of COVID variants, you could be headed to a place that has a higher risk of an outbreak and a resulting lockdown. And different countries have different COVID protocols. The State Department has a helpful list of each country’s COVID requirements and threat levels.

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What COVID Fear Factors Go With Flying?

 

Flying is much safer than many people think. As the World Health Organization notes, airplanes filter and circulate air, making the spread of airborne viruses unlikely. But that doesn't remove the risks around the flight. So try to limit layovers and stops, and minimize contact with others at the airport.

What Essentials Should I Bring for Safety?

 

Your packing list should include extra facemasks, tissues, hand sanitizer (the Mayo Clinic recommends at least 60% alcohol), disinfectant wipes (at least 70% alcohol), and a thermometer.

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What Can Reduce Travel Anxiety During COVID?

 

Travel assistance can help you sort through the maze of COVID requirements worldwide and lead to smoother travels. From something as simple as basic COVID information to arranging emergency care or medical transports while abroad, knowing you have help at hand can alleviate stress.

Sure, you can go it alone. You can search the internet and put together your safety plan. Or you can rely on folks that spend every day solving the problems that arise during international travel. Travel assistance, such as Emergency Assistance Plus, doesn’t make all of the risks out there go away, but it can play a vital role if and when a medical emergency does arise.

 

5 Reasons About EA+

About Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+)

 

EA+ is a travel assistance product that protects members whenever they are traveling away from home and become hospitalized due to injury or illness. EA+ delivers more than 20 services to help members in this time of need.

EA+ is a membership program, not an insurance plan. Once members pay the annual fee, they do not have to pay for any of the provided services. EA+ makes all arrangements and covers all of the costs for the services on the members’ behalf, so they never have to worry about submitting claims for reimbursement. Member’s have to call EA+ during their emergency to be eligible for services.

For more information about rates and membership benefits, click here.