After two long years of uncertainty, Traveling is beginning to rebound and people are itching to hop on a plane again. Many destinations that have been closed off are opening to tourists and families and couples are planning their dream getaways after staying in one place for so long. Studies have shown that people are ready to “go big” in 2022 after losing two years to the pandemic.
Even though people are ready to make this year their greatest year of travel, there still may be a lingering uneasiness about traveling again. How can we feel safer traveling after so much has happened around the world?
How to Feel Safer Traveling Now
We’ve taken a few trips throughout the pandemic and have experienced what life is like traveling in this new normal. It’s not as scary as you think and when armed with information and the tools you need before flying, you can feel safer traveling while making the most of your time exploring the world. So, before you book your dream trip, go through this checklist of things to help make traveling safer in 2022.
1. Purchase Travel Insurance with COVID Coverage
We never leave home without travel insurance. It covers everything from trip cancelations and delays to medical emergencies, stolen laptops, and lost luggage.
We have many tips for choosing the right insurance but our piece of advice for 2022 is to call your insurance company to make sure they have COVID coverage. We had to switch companies in 2021 because our usual insurance company didn’t cover us for COVID-19. More companies are starting to open up to covering COVID emergencies, but it’s essential to call before you fly. Some destinations may also require proof of coverage for COVID-related illness and delays. If your policy doesn’t specifically state COVID is covered in the Terms and Conditions, most companies will issue you an additional letter specifically stating that COVID is covered.
Some destinations may also require proof of coverage for COVID-related illness and delays. If your policy doesn’t specifically state COVID is covered in the Terms and Conditions, most companies will issue you an additional letter specifically stating that COVID is covered.
2. Purchase Extra Travel Medical Evacuation Coverage
While our travel medical policy has medical evacuation benefits, one thing that the pandemic has proven it’s that travel insurance isn’t foolproof, and sometimes isn’t enough. There are many things that can get in the way of getting proper care should an emergency arise, including policy terminology like “acceptable facility” and “medical necessity” that can leave you “stuck” in a foreign hospital. Not ideal. That is why we also have a Medjet Medical Transport Membership. If we are hospitalized for any reason, (yes including for COVID) Medjet will transfer us to a hospital of our choice in our home city.
When Dave was hospitalized in the Peruvian Amazon, we didn’t have Medjet coverage. Even though our medical travel insurance covered air ambulance evacuations, it was only to the “nearest acceptable hospital”, and we had to jump through hoops to get him moved home. He had broken two vertebrae in his back, and we did not want surgery in a foreign hospital, but it took 9 days of testing, collecting paperwork, and waiting for claims adjusters to sign off that Dave was indeed injured enough that he required an air ambulance home.
With Medjet, we would have been transferred home days sooner because they will transfer you home regardless of whether the doctors deem transfer “medically necessary.” The choice to get home is yours, not the insurance company’s. The other good news is that Medjet has no adventure travel exclusions or pre-existing condition exclusions for travelers under the age of 75. So we can rest easy should we get injured while trekking into the backcountry, Medjet will make sure we get home, to proper care, should anything go wrong.
3. Travel Security and Crisis Response Coverage
It’s no secret that there is a lot going on in the world. In fact, 3 out of 4 travelers say they worry about safety and security. Even the most stable of countries can have some kind of civil unrest occur in these unstable times, but we can’t live our lives in a bubble. That doesn’t mean we won’t take precautions. With our MedjetHorizon® membership, we have an added layer of travel safety through our security response membership.
We have 24/7 access to their global Crisis Response center to seek advice about a destination prior to travel. And should a crisis arise, their Crisis Response network will help us in situations such as violent crime, political threats, disappearance, terrorism, kidnapping, natural disaster, and more should we need to utilize their global evacuation and rescue.
The pandemic stressed a lot of economies, and even places considered “very safe” have seen elevated crime levels, so we are happy to have expert, the in-country response should we ever feel threatened or have something bad happen.
4. Check Travel Advisories
The hope is that we never need to use our crisis response coverage and we help to lessen that risk by checking travel advisories before we fly. Each country has its own travel advisory page that you can check for COVID restrictions, natural disasters, and civil unrest. As well as safety and security warnings plus entry requirements.
- If you are in the United States, The US Department of State has a travel advisory page for all the countries in the world. It lists a coded system of levels 1 – 4 with 1 being to take normal precautions and 4 being a Do Not Travel Warning.
- The Government of Canada has its own travel advisory with a color-coded system of green being “normal precautions” and red being “Do Not Travel.” CRA Travel Advisories by Country
- The United Kingdom also does a complete breakdown by Country at Gov.UK
5. Check Local Requirements and Restrictions
Pandemic restrictions have loosened up throughout the world, but many still have rules in place, so it is good to know what protocols are currently followed in the country you are traveling to. Before flying, we check to see if we are required to show proof of vaccines and/or a negative COVID test upon entry.
We then dig deeper to see if masks are required indoors in restaurants or public spaces. A quick Google search of a destination’s entry requirements lets us know what we need and what rules are in place. For example, when searching “Travel to Canada Covid Restrictions” the first website to pop up was the Canadian Government website which stated all of the entry requirements.
Our Medjet membership also gives us access to a great research tool called Sherpa, which shows the entry and visa requirements for all travelers based on where they’re coming from, where they’re going, and whether they’re vaccinated or not.
6. Register for Emergency Notifications
Situations can change quickly in today’s world and to ease our minds when traveling, we register for emergency notifications before leaving home. Both Canada and the United States governments offer citizens notifications in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.
They are excellent systems that enable us to receive information should a natural disaster or civil unrest occur. We are often off the grid while lounging on a beach or trekking up a mountain and checking the news is not a priority when traveling. So we may not know if something is happening until it is too late.
7. Vaccines and Medication
There has been a lot of talk about vaccines these past two years, but even besides our COVID-19 vaccine, it is important to see what vaccines are needed for the destination we are visiting. Vaccine recommendations and requirements vary by country and are not needed everywhere, so that is why when in doubt, we always go to a travel clinic to discuss what we need for travel with a doctor. We make sure to go at least 6 months before our travels as some vaccines require several treatments.
A list of potential travel vaccines are:
- COVID-19 plus booster
- Hepatitis A & B
- Tetanus (this is a good one to always be up-to-date on)
- Yellow Fever
- Japanese Encephalitis
- Rabies – The rabies vaccine doesn’t prevent rabies but it does slow the spread of the infection giving us time to get to the hospital if we are in a remote location like trekking in the jungle or relaxing on a tropical island.
Medications and First Aid
When traveling we make sure to keep all prescription medication on hand. Plus, we never pack prescription medication in our checked luggage. A good plan is to also make photocopies of our prescriptions in case they need to be filled while we are away, and pack at least 5 additional days’ worth in case of a travel delay.
Besides our prescription medication, there are a few other essentials we pack in our first aid kit from over-the-counter medication to bandaids. We have had everything (and then some!) happen on the road and it offers peace of mind to know we are prepared:
- We’ve had allergic reactions to plants where we’ve needed diphenhydramine to reduce swelling.
- We’ve been dehydrated with severe diarrhea and have been thankful to have rehydration tablets in our kits.
- And when driving through winding mountain roads, we’ve been happy to reach for anti-nauseant tablets.
- You can read our full First Aid Kit for travel packing list here.
8. Pack a Care Package
When traveling through transportation hubs, germs can spread quickly so we have a small “germ eliminator” care package in our carry-on bag. I know that many people including ourselves are still anxious about being on airplanes and in airports with crowds of people.
Even if masks are no longer required, we still wear them. N95 masks provide us with the most protection in crowds. We’ve gotten used to wearing masks, so it isn’t much of an inconvenience to have one on hand for areas with a high number of people.
Even before the pandemic, Dave and I carried alcohol wipes to wipe down our armrests and tray tables on airplanes. Planes move a high volume of people every day, so it doesn’t hurt to clean our own space for the flight. And we wash our hands regularly, but if we can’t, we now carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with us.
9. Check Safety Protocols at Our Hotel
After two years of socially distancing and isolating in place, it can be a little overwhelming going into a hotel room and knowing that some stranger slept in our bed the night before. When choosing a hotel, check their health and safety protocols. Most hotels and apartment rentals share their extra room cleaning and public area disinfectant efforts and outline what the staff is doing to keep you safe. If there aren’t safety protocols listed, I’d skip booking that accommodation.
10. Keep Emergency Information on Hand
Anything can happen when traveling. Just because we are on vacation doesn’t mean we are immune to having problems. From having our credit cards lost or stolen to losing our passport or needing medical evacuation or hospitalization, it is important for us to have access to all our emergency information.
A thumb drive is a good place to store data and, even in the 21st century, we carry photocopies of our passports. We have pictures of them on our phones as well. Dave and I have been in several different emergency situations and can attest that there is no time to rummage through luggage in search of documents, so we make a plan and have all the information with phone numbers at our fingertips.
We also search the emergency phone numbers of the destination before traveling so we know what number to call in an emergency and how to reach the embassy should anything happen. Not everywhere uses “911”.
If you don’t have a global data plan for your smartphone, we recommend either updating your plan or getting a global data SIM Card. We use KnowRoaming and a Virtual SIM.
11. Stay up to date on Travel Scams
Not everything regarding travel safety is about global pandemics and civil unrest…the age-old travel scam is alive and well, and one of the top things to know about when traveling. We always look up what the latest scams are in the destination we are visiting. Thieves have a knack for separating unsuspecting tourists from their hard-earned cash.
We have a complete article on the most common travel scams that we have come across (and yes, we have fallen for some of them in the past). If we had known about these before traveling, we may have had better pictures from our time in Botswana, or we could have spent longer in Myanmar.
If you search the term “travel scam” for the country you are visiting, you will find all kinds of stories, and be ready should you come across a savvy thief.