Travelling internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic

Travelling internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic

South Africans can finally travel internationally. Here are important things to note when planning for your international trip. 

Vacationing Woman Wearing Face Mask
Vacationing Woman Wearing Face Mask/ iStock

Over the past few months, people across the country have been finding very creative ways to keep the international travel dream alive – from virtual travel to cooking food inspired by their favourite destinations. The good news is that we will finally be able to swap the virtual travel for real-life travel soon! As of Wednesday night, in the latest Presidential address, it has been confirmed that South African borders will be opened for international travel (subject to certain restrictions) from 1 October 2020.

If you’re someone who has itchy feet and will be booking a trip to travel abroad in the coming months, or someone who is planning a well-deserved year-end break with the family or your significant other, here are some important things to know and bear in mind when planning your international trip. 

READ: Going on a vacation during the pandemic

Preparing for your trip

Do your research:

• For your own safety and the safety of fellow travellers, most (if not all) airlines and destinations will require you to take a COVID-19 test before you travel to confirm you do not have the virus.

• In certain countries, while some areas are open for the public to enjoy, certain tourist spots remain closed so do your research before choosing a destination to avoid disappointment.

• Some destinations require you to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival; others require you to download an app to track your movements while in the country (for contact tracing purposes).

• When looking to book international flights, be sure to enquire the booking policy of the airline (in case you need to change your travel plans last minute for any reason).


• It’s important to do thorough research about where you will stay, be it in a resort, hotel or apartment and have a clear understanding about what health and safety measures they have implemented. 

• For example, Club Med implemented health and safety measures at all their resorts around the world with strict sanitisation measures in place.

Travel Time 

Health and Safety Pack 

• When it's time to pack for your trip, grab any medicines you may need on your trip and these essential safe-travel supplies. If travelling with kids, ensure each one has their own Sanitary Pack.

o Cloth face masks

o Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)

o Disinfectant wipes (at least 70% alcohol) for surfaces

o Thermometer


• Ensure you have copies of your passport in the case of medical emergency. 

• Medical and Travel Insurance is of paramount importance – having the right comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for anything COVID-19 related is another. Ask all the necessary questions of your travel insurance provider before purchasing it and ensure you are sufficiently covered.

Respect time 

• To ensure a safe and smooth check-in experience, airports have restricted the access points and deployed screeners at these points. This means potential longer waiting periods to check-in, so plan accordingly.

• Should your temperature be over 38 degrees, secondary screening will be conducted in the screening and isolation facilities – which could further delay you, so arrive well in time.

Flying Safe

• All international airlines have enforced the compulsory wearing of masks on board and for the duration of your flight. 

• Airlines such as Air France, KLM, Air Mauritius, and others have reinforced daily aircraft cleaning procedures, with the disinfection of all surfaces in contact with customers such as armrests, tables, and screens.

• The introduction of a specific procedure for the periodic disinfecting aircraft by spraying an approved viricidal product effective for 10 days.

• Adapting in-flight service to limit interaction between customers and crew members. On short flights in Europe, meal and beverage services have been suspended. On long-haul flights, cabin service is limited, and preference is given to individually wrapped products.

• Majority of aircrafts are equipped with “High Efficiency Particulate Air” or HEPA filters, identical to those used in hospital operating theatres. These filters renew cabin air every three minutes and extract more than 99.99% of the smallest viruses, including Coronavirus type viruses. This ensures that cabin air complies with quality standards.

READ: How to plan a vacation on a low budget

Image courtesy of iStock/ @Feverpitched

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