If you are reading this then the chances are you are a diver and you will know that for most of us, travelling is part of our DNA. We are often ready to go to great lengths and distances to have amazing dives.
The discomfort of travelling to and from the liveaboards we visit (for most of us at least) is the small price we pay to enjoy our inspirational diving experiences.
More often than not the whole drive, park, airport, flight, transfer, flight, taxi routine is a little testing and tiring… but it’s worth it!
This last year has added layers of complexity as well as the unknown to this already less than fun part of our travels. A world pandemic is something most of us never imagined seeing in our lifetimes. This obviously had an impact on tourism and international travel.
The way we move from place to place will likely fundamentally change, at least in the short to medium term. This means we will need to adapt to the “new normal”. Nobody can know for sure what this will look like, but we can make some assumptions based on our recent guests and staff travels.
In the end, we are divers. We can stare a tiger shark in the eye, we can sail stormy seas, and we can deal with any emergency underwater. We have the skills to react, adapt, and be resilient. So let’s have a look at how we can deal with the cards we are likely going to be dealt when travelling during COVID-19 using our S.H.A.R.P method.
Early studies suggest that the risk while flying is relatively low, airlines are actually super safe. But you can help yourself while flying to increase that safety even further:
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public as much as possible when you are travelling during COVID-19 – this includes during your flight
- Avoid crowds and try to stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not travelling with you where at all possible
- If you are not yet vaccinated, get tested 3-5 days after your trip. Stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel, even if your test is negative. If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
Most of us have been stuck for months on end at, or very close to, home. We all know that feeling of freedom and enjoyment that has come with suddenly having some freedom of movement locally.
Now, imagine how much stronger that feeling will be as your aircraft leaves the tarmac for the first time! If the last year has taught us anything, it is just how privileged we really are in life. Remember how spoiled we are to be able to travel at all, and hold that thought as you encounter any frustrations and complications when travelling during COVID-19.
Do you remember being nose to tail with thousands of others at LAX, Dubai, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Singapore, and endless other airports? Things are unlikely to be like that again for a while. Soak up the feeling of that empty airport.
If you are indeed planning on travelling during COVID-19, think about the flight; hogging those 4 central seats to get a good sleep! How often does that happen?
Your destination may have been closed for several months. It will certainly have seen hugely reduced numbers. This means barely no divers will have dived the sites for more than a year, if at all. This could be a once in a lifetime chance to step back in time before mass tourism really impacted. Shark and fish populations may be increased, as well as coral recovery. You will also see less garbage dotted around.
Lastly, think of the bargains out there right now.
All of it…amazing!
Pre COVID-19, you could almost literally waltz into the airport, hop on a jet plane and then BOOM you would be on your liveaboard.
While we have often complained about that journey (security anyone? Only one drink during the flight!?), are we not now longing for those days again?
The good news for the future is that it should still be relatively easy, as long as we are flexible, patient, and most importantly; resilient.
Yes, there will be multiple checks of temperature.
Yes, you will have to show your PCR test results again and again.
And yes, as with security post 9/11, this may seem excessive.
However, these checks are put in place to keep everyone as safe as possible and cooperation and flexibility will ensure that we can continue travelling during COVID-19, and beyond. Remember, yes it’s a pain…but you are finally on holiday!
There will also likely be delays, flight cancellations, and the unexpected to deal with. As the situation evolves and changes on a daily basis, we all have to remain resilient and adapt. Again, help yourself.
- Ensure that you have purchased good travel insurance and check that you are covered for all eventualities.
- Check cancellation and change policies before booking a flight. We also recommend choosing the most direct route to your destination. The more stopovers you add, the more rules and regulations there will be – so do yourself a favour and keep it simple!
- Lastly, we need to be ready and accept that things can, and likely will, change several times before everything settles. One moment you are enjoying an amazing time underwater and the next you are told that you will have to quarantine at home upon your return. This is the moment where your resilience will show and as a true diver, you just need to brush it off and ask what time the next dive briefing starts.
To be ready for anything, prepare yourself thoroughly before your travels. It is important you check, double-check, and STAY updated. Stay informed of exit and entry requirements of your country of residence, your destinations, and any potential transit destinations.
Ensure you have all the necessary paperwork in place as soon as possible. Double check and then re-check prior to travelling.
- Make sure you have all of the PPE that may be required. That means masks, antibacterial gel, and potentially gloves. And spares, just in case.
- If you are eligible, get fully vaccinated and ensure you carry proof of your vaccination.
- Consider also other parts of your holiday including; how to get to the airport, what can you expect in transit (will food outlets and stores be open?), what procedures are applied upon your return home. The more you know, the less surprises are likely to pop up and be dealt with.
- Ensure that you have a way to be kept updated of changes. Bookmark relevant government websites and check regularly, watch social media groups, and if you are at all unsure then contact whoever you are booked with for advice.
- A last tip is to try to pre-complete as many forms as possible in advance. There will be countless health forms and declarations to fill in so do yourself a favour: see if you can complete them online before departure or print them, fill them in, and carry them with you.
In short; it may be stressful, it may be tiring, it may be irritating, but you are doing it! You are travelling! Relax, take a breath, enjoy the good times.