Traveling during Covid-19

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

The airport was empty.

Nothing but an echo of light footsteps and faint conversations.

Dumbfounded by the inverted vacuum of travellers, I took out my phone to double check that I didn't screw up the dates. Sure enough, I was right on time for the flight.

"So this is what it's like to travel during a global pandemic then," I thought to myself.

Taking in the profoundly unfamiliar airport setting, my feet slowly started staggering down the hall towards the check-in desk.

I arrived third in line, out of five.

First in line stood a mother, a father, and their two young daughters.

When the airport employee approached the line requesting proof of negative Covid-19 tests, the mother reached into a folder and presented him with a sheet of paper.

From where I was standing, I could feel the words "This is not the correct test" begin to pierce into this family.

The mother began explaining that they had flown into Boston from California, and stayed in hotels near the airport the past few nights awaiting the test results. They had already purchased the hotel in Europe for that evening, before they would arrive at their family's house the following day - and had no family on the east coast to stay with while the matter got sorted. Her voice trembled, explaining that they simply could not afford to stay another 3-5 days in hotels. All of these expenses added up to a lot of money, wasted, as a consequence for what? They had gotten tested, in compliance with the regulations to enter Portugal, and were able to show proof that they were not infected with Covid-19 prior to boarding.

But what the mother didn't know, prior to breaking down in tears, was that there are multiple Covid-19 tests, and specific ones are not considered eligible for intercontinental travel.

After a relatively long and heart-wrenching exchange, the airport employee offered a final apology, before escorting the family to the side to make way for the second person in line.

Covid-19 has completely shifted the platform of everything we have known. I saw Boston Logan International Airport, once beaming with life from travellers worldwide, become a large blank space with colorful ceiling flags.

The airplane was no less deserted. As one of about fifteen passengers, I boarded the airplane and - having the option of sitting just about anywhere - took my preferred window seat.

Prior to that day, I was pretty nervous to travel on a plane during Covid-19, but eventually decided to conquer that fear and, with appropriate precautions, did it anyway. The only difference apart from the lack of humans on board, was the fact that we were required to wear a mask at all times during the flight, unless we were eating or drinking - basically the same standard as if you were visiting a restaurant.

As of September 2020 - after having traveled around for three weeks - I've found Europe to be handling the pandemic with much more unified composure, in terms of travel. You can feel that there is still fear lingering, just like in the States, but I've encountered much less overall public panic. As long as you are moving about in public places wearing a mask, you can pretty much wander freely.

Of course, the leniency of travel depends on the country you're traveling to and within. To enter Portugal from Massachusetts, for example, I only had to obtain proof of a negative molecular Covid-19 test. Most worldwide travel regulations now require this test to be completed about 72 hours prior to departure - it's called polymerise chain reaction (PCR). But other countries, such as the Netherlands, require additional documents to be completed and presented upon arrival.

If you are planning to travel abroad during these times, know that it is possible (depending on the country) and can be done in a safe and sustainable way.

Wear a mask at all times while you're in public, wash your hands vigorously, carry hand sanitzer at all times, and use your sense of common logic.

Before planning your trip, do you research. Inquire how the virus is being contained, with regard to the specific country you're planning on visiting. If there are no influx of cases, go on to research the documents and paperwork necessary to present upon arrival to that specific country.

A simple Google search can bring clarity to these questions. Go to their government website and read about their new regulations in light of Covid-19. Print the documents, fill them out, and make copies to keep in separate compartments of your luggage. If you have further questions that the government website hasn't yet answered for you, simply call the country's consulate located nearest to you.

Traveling during Covid-19 is, for now, still possible. If you desire to travel abroad - take necessary sanitary precautions, do your research, and plan accordingly. Safe travels my friends.

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