Extra precautions for travelling post COVID-19
COVID-19 has opened lots of eyes to the dangers that travel plays in the transmission of deadly diseases. Global travel near enough facilitates pandemics and has for as long as humankind has lived, so there’s definitely precautions that we need to take to prevent this as much as possible. It’s not just about protecting others from the dangers of other countries either, because these precautions can greatly increase your experience abroad so that you don’t have any issues or mishaps.
Keep up your hygiene.
While COVID-19 might be on it’s way out, travel is still one of the largest factors in global transmission of diseases. Upholding hygiene while you travel isn’t always easy, but the necessity of doing so isn’t just to stop global pandemics, it can also help improve your vacation massively. When you travel the world, you are constantly coming into contact with new and foreign bacteria that your body is not familiar with, some of which can cause you to be ill or have a reaction. While these may not be fatal in most cases, it’s definitely always safer to be protected where possible and prevent being ill on a vacation you’ve looked forward to for a long time.
The best way to uphold good hygiene practices is to always carry a hand sanitiser bottle with you and always wash your hands after using the bathroom. This factor may sound silly, but it’s an easy one to miss, especially when you’re on a plane or in a rush. If you’re travelling with young ones who may not be able to practice good hygiene all the time, ensure they sanitise before and after they eat too.
Watch for allergens.
If you have a known allergy, whether it be severe or acute, it’s definitely best to avoid these or treat them as much as possible when travelling. With relation to COVID-19 and further viruses in the future, in some cases reactions to allergies can lower your immune system, leaving you susceptible to infection or transmission. While it may be hard to combat things like hay fever when outside, try taking antihistamines to keep yourself feeling good and strong.
The last thing you want is your holiday ruined by a reaction to an allergen anyway, so it’s an easy one to avoid if possible. Most pharmacies around the world will have access to antihistamines and, luckily, the scientific name for them is mostly universal. If travelling in Europe, North America or Oceania, you’ll often find that the medication you purchase at home is the same as abroad anyway, so they’re very easy to find and very manageable.
Ensure you're vaccinated.
This is mostly compulsory to travel to some countries in the modern day anyway, but keeping up to date on vaccinations that are crucial for travelling around the world is key. Vaccines cost money and often result in the rising price of a trip, but even if they are optional, the benefits far out weight the cost.
If you’re not sure whether or not the country you’re travelling to requires vaccines, or simply want advice on whether you should get them or not, you can always consult your GP or local doctor’s surgery. You can also find out by visiting the NHS Fit For Travel Website, as well as speaking to your travel agent or tour operator before you book. If you are vulnerable or cannot take a certain vaccine, you will probably still be allowed to travel in most circumstances, but take extra care to prevent the risks of infection or transmission of any foreign elements.
Watch what you eat.
Even before COVID-19, we always recommended that when you’re abroad, try to avoid foods that you think will impose a risk to you as much as possible. It’s always best to try new cuisine, snacks and drinks when you’re on holiday, but ensure you’re purchasing them from a safe and hygienic source. Lots of lesser developed countries around the world do not have industry standards for Food Hygiene like we do here in the UK, so standards can be lower and, as a result, can have a bad impact on your trip.
We’re not just talking about an upset stomach either, although that is a key point; we’re also talking about fatal and severe impacts. Whether it be from bacteria or uncooked goods, or even foreign chemicals or elements to the food, ensuring you’re eating and drinking safely is a crucial part of staying safe while travelling the world. If something doesn’t look right when you’re eating it, we recommend not finishing the dish or sending it back.
Avoid crowds where possible.
As a general rule it’s always safer to avoid crowds or gathering when travelling anyway. Sometimes it can mean something great is happening, but other times it can mean the complete opposite, and getting caught in the middle of it might not be the best thing.
When we specifically look at transmission of viruses and their infection rates, they will always soar in crowds of people because it is easier for them to move about. Naturally, the best way to avoid this is to keep your distance, much like we have been doing over our various lockdowns and restrictions. Even when this is no long compulsory, there are few occasions where it is necessary to get up close and personal with people you don’t know around the world – so why not keep your personal space… personal?
Lastly, and most importantly, ensure you have adequate cover for healthcare no matter where you travel. In the past, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitled you to free healthcare anywhere within the European Union in a similar way to the NHS (basic healthcare). With Brexit, the EHIC became a thing of the past (although they are still valid until their expiration date) and were replaced with the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). The GHIC is available to all residents of the UK and is not based on nationality, offering necessary healthcare to card holders when visiting countries in the EU. Necessary healthcare is defined as healthcare that is medically necessary during your stay and cannot wait until you are back in the UK.
Despite the GHIC being free and widely available, we always recommend having travel insurance that includes medical cover when you travel. This is especially necessary in countries that may not have the best healthcare system or where it would become extremely expensive for you to use their system. Travel insurance can be found for as low as £20 for an annual policy, so there’s no reason to not have it. Some bank accounts, employee benefits, club memberships and loyalty cards include free or discounted travel insurance too.