Written by Emma D'Arcy
Finally, the time had arrived to see the world again.
It was September 2021, and I hadn’t stepped foot on a plane since my return journey from New York to London in December 2019. I have always loved to travel and explore. Since I was a child, I dreamed of visiting far flung countries, and as I grew up that passion became realised as I visited Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and Oceania (South America is still on my wishlist!) I enjoy the whole process: from saving up, planning and jetting to countries across the globe. As the pandemic struck and fundamentally changed our lives, it was almost two years later that I felt ready to travel again, with all the uncertainties that involved.
I started planning. My first recommendation is to do plenty of research on your destination of choice. As Covid rules and restrictions are different with every country and are constantly changing, do what you can to choose wisely based on the options available at the time. When I initially looked at travelling, Greece was a good option from the UK as the flight wasn’t too long, at around four hours, and the requirements were straightforward when we arrived. We settled on Rhodes as a beautiful island with warm temperatures, fascinating culture and an excellent selection of hotels to choose from right by the ocean.
Planning is key – so it’s worth checking out your government’s website which will have all the latest advice on entry requirements (proof of vaccination and passenger locator forms for example), and restrictions to expect when you arrive. I also downloaded apps to help with required health information – for example the NHS app in the UK provides a Covid vaccination pass to use abroad, and Verifly is a useful app that simplies your travel experience digitally by providing a requirements checklist as you plan your trip. During the planning process it’s also worthwhile making sure you have comprehensive travel insurance for any last minute changes or in case your trip is postponed.
Given that plans can change at the last minute, my other advice is to be flexible and expect the unexpected! Before my trip to New York a few weeks ago, I made arrangements so if I couldn’t travel for any reason I had a Plan B scenario in place. Make sure that you keep up to date with the latest rules and advice in your destination, but also the country you are returning to – whilst my outbound trip to New York went smoothly and was a great experience, the rules changed while I was abroad, and I had to isolate when I returned to the U.K. until I had a negative PCR test result.
Finally, I highly recommend investing in a comfortable face mask as travelling requires long periods of use – usually from when you arrive at the airport until you leave the airport at your final destination. I take a travel bag packed with hand sanitizer, a moisturizing face mask, pulse point oil, mouth wash, mints and an eye mask so that I feel comfortable and rested by the time I arrive at my destination.
After travelling short-haul to Rhodes, and long-haul to New York over the last couple of months, would I say it’s worth it? Absolutely. The moment I sat by the pool with a cocktail in hand enjoying the warm sunshine on my face at our hotel by the beach, with a whole week of fun, exploring and relaxation stretching out ahead of us. The moment that I glimpsed the Manhattan skyline for the first time in two years, and was finally reunited with one of my closest friends, Cate, at the Bryant Park ice rink full of festive cheer right before thanksgiving. It was worth every minute of extra precautions, plans and preparations to keep myself and fellow travellers safe as we navigate travel today. Ultimately you are the only person who can decide when you are ready to travel again, but the best way to handle travel when you do fly again is to plan as best you can, take all the precautions needed, take a deep breath and go experience the world again. I promise it’s worth it!