Being stuck in a foreign country in the midst of a pandemic is definitely one adventure I’m glad is over. When the whole world went into lockdown, my home country closed down its borders in fear of the virus, leaving me stranded in America, running around the country like a headless chicken looking for a safe place to settle down.

Between the start of lockdown and July, I had been on five different flights and would be on five more later on in the year.

I flew into America at the end of 2019 expecting this to be the greatest gap year known to man. Instead, I was nearing the end of my three month stay in Hawaii when the lockdown was announced. At first, I thought it was only going to last a couple of weeks, and so I decided to stay on the island. “It’s just a little cough init,” I said to myself. It was only a week later when they realised the severity of COVID-19 and kicked all non-residents off the island. 

I had no plan. This was my year of spontaneity. Falling in love with the country as I explored and had a taste of the “American dream”.

Now, my parents nagging words “YOU MUST HAVE A PLAN”, haunted me as I found myself stuck in a foreign land. No friends. No family. I was forced to fly across the states until I found a safe place I could ride out the lockdown in.

I recall the first flight I took after the lockdown. You could sense the chaos in the circulated cabin air. All stores had run out of sanitizers and masks so barely any of us had them. I just had a Bath and Body Works hand-sanitizer that was probably made of 10% alcohol and 90% glitter. 

It’s been a long time coming, and now that lockdown is over, how can we travel while staying safe and protecting the community?

Whether you’re travelling out of necessity or pleasure, here’s my five key tips for travelling both safely and mindfully in the age of coronavirus.

  1. First of all, know the restrictions in the country you are travelling to. A few countries still have closed borders, and many require you to isolate upon arrival. Some require masks on at all times, and others require masks only when you are indoors. 
  2. Secondly, paperwork! Don’t we all love paperwork. Most countries have health declaration and tracking forms you would need to fill before you travel. Make sure this is done before, as some won’t let you even check in unless the form has been completed.
  3. Thirdly, the OCD packing. I like to keep hand sanitizer, sanitary wipes and an extra mask in my hand luggage while I’m flying. I read an article last year that said the dirtiest surface in the world (dirtier than your toilet bowl) is the airport security buckets. Yes! Those things you put your carry-on bag and phone in! So do yourself a favour and wipe down ALL your personal belongings. 
  4. Avoid travelling into towns or areas with a high elderly population.
  5. And when you get to your destination, protect and be mindful of the locals! 

Have fun and remember to travel safely!