How to Prepare for a Trip Abroad in 2021
Planning an international trip is never easy, especially for first-timers. There are tedious processes involved when applying for travel documents, planning travel itineraries, and booking air tickets and accommodation.
In 2021, thanks to the ongoing pandemic, each of the said processes will be even more tedious. Territorial travel restrictions will make it hard for travelers to acquire travel visas, tour and travel as an industry might hike fees to factor in the many safety precautions they have employed, and travelers will need to be more cautious about their health. Brexit will also affect the travel industry in 2021 and beyond. Britons won’t, for example, be eligible for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when touring other European countries, enjoy free mobile phone roaming outside the UK, or drive in EU countries without an international driver permit.
With all these changes sweeping across the global tour and travel sector, you will find these 5 travel tips very helpful for your 2021 trip abroad:
- Know the documents you need and have them ready beforehand
On top of having a valid passport and visa, there are new travel documents that could affect your 2021 travel plans. As from January 2021, for example, Americans visiting European Schengen-zone countries will need an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) visa waiver. The waiver has been introduced to protect the Schengen zone against illegal immigrants from North America. The key effect of this change is that traveling to Europe will be a bit expensive and harder than in previous years. Still in Europe, the Russian government will be launching e-visas on January 1st 2021. These electronic visas will relax travel requirements for nationals from 52 countries. You need to confirm if you are eligible for this visa before booking your ticket to Russia.
If you are a student, it is advisable that you acquire an international student identification card (ISIC). The card will make you eligible for discounts on food, accommodation, and shopping anywhere on the planet. All students in recognized public and private universities/colleges all over the world are eligible to apply. The card is valid for one year, after which you will need to renew.
- Acquire an international driver license
Public transport has never been appealing to foreign tourists. Overcrowding in buses and subways makes them prime targets for pickpockets and thieves, the language barrier in some countries increases a tourist’s chances of getting lost, and now with COVID in town, using shared modes of transportation multiplies your chances of getting the virus. The last thing you want is to fall ill or to be forced into 14-day quarantine, far from home. That is why you should opt for private ground transportation.
You will need an international permit to drive in foreign countries. About 100 countries recognize this permit- confirm if your destination is among them. To qualify for the license, you must be a legal driver in your home country, be medically cleared to drive, and have all valid travel documents associated with cross-border travel. The permit is valid for 1 year.
- Get necessary vaccinations and medicines
Most countries will only approve your visa application if you are vaccinated against polio, yellow fever, Cholera, Hepatitis A&B, Anthrax, and most communicable diseases. In 2021, you might need a Pfizer COVID vaccination certificate before you are allowed on a plane. And speaking of COVID, the virus comes with fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and overall body pain. It is good to bring pain medication- and all other known COVID symptoms for that matter- just for precaution.
If you will be camping in the wild, which is highly recommended in the post-COVID era, it is wise to carry Malaria medication and a first-aid kit. Several face masks and hand sanitizers will also go a long way. And in case you need prescription med, e.g. for HBD or diabetes, bring twice as much meds as you need for the duration of your stay. With possible quarantines, you can never be sure about your return date. Note that buying drugs in a foreign country, especially where your medical cover doesn’t apply, can be extremely expensive.
- Get travel insurance
Even if you already have travel insurance, you need new travel insurance policies for 2021- policies that specifically cover coronavirus treatment and everything associated with the pandemic. You need a provider who covers repatriation and emergency medical expenses for international travelers, including instances where you might need emergency evacuation. You will also need an insurance provider with a lenient cancellation policy because nothing is certain these days, especially departure/arrival timelines.
- Research on your destination laws and general security
If you are British, or if you intend to travel to Britain, you have to enquire from local travel agencies and/or government authorities about the impacts of Brexit on your upcoming trip. All travelers must also regularly check which countries are locked down, which ones are likely to be locked down soon, and which countries/states have put in place cessation of movement orders. The last thing you want is to be quarantined in a foreign land or to visit a country and spend the entire vacation in your hotel room.
Things are tough for travelers, but they can always be easier with a little more/better planning. Ensure you make maximum plans- get your finances in order and book your place to stay early enough. Also, know where to get help in case you need it. With this done, you can relax and enjoy your stay.