I recently got back from a trip to the States for my husband’s best friend’s wedding. It was my second international holiday this year and the third since the pandemic struck.
In fact, I’ve visited four different countries in the time it took for COVID-19 to arrive in the UK and continue to spread.
Although travelling during such troubling times has been advised against and is not without its challenges (hello, endless passenger locator forms, lockdown restrictions and PCR tests), it hasn’t (and won’t ever) stop me from travelling. Here’s why.
1. I Needed to Travel to Elope
First things first, I needed to travel to elope with my American partner at the back end of 2020. After being engaged for almost a year, the alternative was to send him off back to the US once his tourist visa was over and not know when I’d be able to see him again.
Since we were always planning to get married abroad anyway (preferably with friends and family), we brought the wedding forward so we could kickstart the visa process for him to live in the UK and physically be with me sooner.
Fortunately, there was a gap in between lockdowns two and three where international travel wasn’t banned so I could fly to Mexico on my way over to the States to elope.
And given that this was at a time pre-Delta variant where case numbers were starting to decline, travel was deemed “safer” than it had been before. Therefore, I had to jump on it to avoid the long-distance battle Nathan and I had already been through and couldn’t bear to go through again.
2. Travel Gives Me Life
Full disclosure: travelling is a big part of who I am. When I don’t travel, I don’t feel myself. Just like bakers need to bake to be happy and runners need to run, I’m a traveller at heart and I need to travel.
To put it simply, going for long periods of time without travel makes my soul sad. It doesn’t help that I’ve been travelling on and off since my early twenties and I’m 31 now.
Sure, travelling during a pandemic can risk your physical health. But it has many benefits for my mental health.
I’m so used to coming home and living in my parents’ house for a while and then jetting off for another trip, whether it’s backpacking with my sister or visiting Nathan in the States. In other words, I’m never in one place for too long, so not being able to control whether I’m allowed to fly out of the country and experience new things has been agonising, to say the least.
To make my existence worthwhile and improve my everyday happiness, I need to do the things that I’m passionate about (and often). Ergo, if an opportunity to travel comes along, I’ll grab it with both hands.
3. There Are Still Ways to Travel Safely
Contrary to what certain news outlets like to publish, you can travel without contracting the virus. You just have to do it in a way that’s sensible and follows the rules.
The advice at the start of the pandemic was “stay local wherever you can.” But to be honest, you can catch COVID anywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a bus, plane or in a shopping centre — you just never know who may have it.
This also means that you can catch it in any country; although, keep in mind that some countries have higher rates than others.
How to Travel Safely During COVID
Based on my recent trips, I’d recommend doing the following if you decide to travel right now.
Check Government Websites
Google the place you’re going to plus the word “government” to pop up the local guidelines so you can familiarise yourself with them.
Get Double Jabbed
Get both doses of a government-approved COVID vaccine at least two weeks before you travel for maximum protection.
Be Careful in Crowds
Think of Boris and his “hands, face, space!” campaign. Wear a face mask in crowded areas where it’s difficult to social-distance and keep hand-sanitising at regular intervals.
Get the Right Travel Insurance
If the worst happens and you get COVID (even though it’s unlikely), you need to ensure that you’re covered by travel insurance. Make sure you invest before you go.
Take all the Required Tests
Whether it’s a PCR or lateral flow, do what you need to do testing-wise to follow government guidelines before, during or after travel. (After all, they’re in place for a reason!)
Sure, sourcing a company that sells PCR tests so you can take one before you board a plane can feel tedious. However, at the end of the day, it’s worth it to know that everybody around you has also tested negative in the previous few days.
Don’t Go Too Far
If you’re not ready to travel abroad yet, I totally get it and don’t worry — you can still reap the benefits of travel. Just book an adventure in your home country or become a tourist in your home town.
Either way, don’t feel ashamed for wanting to travel. Personally, it’s grown me as a person like nothing else in my life so far and I owe a lot of my best qualities to my travel experiences.
The Future of Travel
I’d like to think that the worst is over when it comes to COVID travel limitations, but I guess nobody knows. Even so, one thing’s for sure, I can’t wait for the day where we have more freedom to book a flight without having to worry about whether the country is on the UK government’s red list.
In the meantime, I’ll still be going places when it is safe to do so (and being safe while I’m there).
Travel is one of life’s greatest pleasures and we must live life fully while we can. Money returns, but time doesn’t. The pandemic has taught all of us that.