Minimising your risk of Covid-19
when travelling abroad

Travel Tips from Dr Ruth Handford

As the world gradually and carefully opens up for leisure travel, some of us are keen to get away for a break abroad after what has been a very difficult time with lots of restrictions for everyone. 

For several months people have been travelling for holidays, so airports and airlines are well geared up now to help you stay safe and to minimize your risk of catching Covid-19. 

Your journey

Masks – remain compulsory whilst at the airport and on an aeroplane, unless you are medically exempt. If you are, you should get some documentation to prove this in case you are questioned. If you are unable to wear a mask for whatever reason, don’t worry too much about being on the aircraft. Although they are airconditioned, the recirculating air is HEPA filtered continuously throughout the flight, removing germs including Covid-19 from the air you breathe. 

Sanitise – there are plenty of hand sanitizer stations all over airports now, so don’t worry about taking your own on the plane (remember you are restricted with the volume of liquids you can take through security). 
Hand washing – continue to wash your hands regularly whilst in transit. This is a great way to help prevent transmission of covid-19. 

Your destination

City v Countryside - You may feel safer in a location with a less dense population than in a city. Maybe now is the time for a more rural, countryside holiday rather than a city break. Consider how comfortable you are in a crowded area, or when using public transport to get around.

Getting around - You might feel more comfortable renting your own car rather than relying on taxis and public transport to get around. If you do decide to rent a vehicle, try to do so early as the availability of rental cars is low in some areas. 

Climate - You may prefer to choose a location where the weather is more likely to allow you to spend time outdoors – for example, eating outside rather than inside a busy restaurant. Lots of people feel more comfortable in an outdoors setting, and it can be difficult to socially distance inside a restaurant. We know that ventilation and fresh air is really important in reducing covid-19 transmission. 

Catered v Self catered? - Would you feel more comfortable in self catered accommodation? You might feel that preparing your own food and cleaning your own dishes reduces your risk. Consider that you are likely to have to go to shops to get your provisions, though, and this will involve travel and being inside a shop, which you may or may not want to do. 

What to take with me?

As well as all the necessary documentation depending on your destination, it is worth taking some extra supplies in your luggage. Consider packing some surface cleaning wipes, small hand sanitizer bottles, and lots of disposable masks. 

Feel free to wear a mask wherever you go on holiday – it is very much the ‘norm’ now and no one will bat an eyelid. Most countries still have compulsory mask wearing when in indoor public areas like shops and museums, as well as in taxis.

Should I even bother???!!!

Yes! I have been abroad now 3 times since restrictions lifted. Every time I have felt safe and that appropriate precautions have been taken by the travel companies, airlines, and also in my destination. 

The thing to remember is that because of immunization and testing requirements to even allow travel, the group of people you are on the plane with have been immunized AND tested within the last couple of days, so it is very likely to be safe. Eating outside is much easier in a warm climate, and feels ‘safer’ than eating inside a UK restaurant in many ways. And after the (almost) 2 years we’ve all had, the benefits of having holiday were amazing. I’m booking my next one!

Always consult your own doctor before travelling

These travel tips are intended to provide general information to those planning to travel abroad. They do not replace a visit to your doctor . If you are planning a holiday you should consult your doctor to ensure that you are fit to travel and discuss any specific health requirements you may have.

About Dr Ruth Handford

Dr Ruth Handford is a GP with over 10 years' experience of working in both hospital and primary care. She is particularly interested in caring for the elderly in the community, child health, and family planning. Ruth lives and works in a rural community, and is kept very busy by her job and young family.

Travel Insurance for Medical Conditions

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommend that you have travel insurance in place every time you travel abroad. Make sure that your insurers are aware that you have existing medical conditions and ensure that your travel insurance provides cover for them.