Travel Conditions: A road warrior’s experience on the road to recovery – Part 1

Riskline’s Suzanne Sangiovese, a frequent traveller before the pandemic, has recently returned to travelling. In the first part of this blog series, she shares 5 pre-travel tips and her experiences of travelling in Spain and France.

Back to Travel

I’m currently on a train snaking my way through the Cote d’Azur and can’t help but think how normal this feels. Other than the mask on my face and having to produce my “pass sanitaire“, it may as well be November 2019. Except it’s not. It’s currently 21 November 2021 and I’m travelling through Europe during its fourth wave.

Whether we want to accept it or not, the world is still in the middle of a pandemic. However, there are signs of recovery in the travel industry. According to a recent global survey by Amadeus, 50% of travellers expect to take a flight for business later this year. A GBTA poll also noted that 55% of travel suppliers have seen an increase in bookings for the month of October compared to one month earlier. With 77% of travellers wanting to travel in the next year, with Europe reigning as top destination, I got packing.

To be Forewarned is Forearmed

Yes travel can be stressful, and yes it’s even more stressful now. PLFs, PCRs, mRNAs – to think 20 months ago these abbreviations wouldn’t have meant anything to me and now they are becoming my second language. It’s critical to be prepared and review all conditions for travel right up until you leave for the airport. There are many providers who help make navigating these travel restrictions easier, including of course Riskline.

Top 5 Pre-Travel Tips

  1. Make sure you frequently read the latest information regarding travel entry and exit rules and domestic regulations. Governments throughout the pandemic have made swift changes to COVID-19 regulations, so make sure you regularly check COVID-19 regulations for the country/countries that you are travelling to. 
  2. Book tests ahead of time – if you need to take a PCR or rapid antigen test book it within the appropriate time allowed and don’t leave it to the last minute. Travellers have reported their tests not showing up in time and being denied boarding.
  3. Get your paperwork done 48 hours before. If you need to fill out a passenger locator form (PLF) set a reminder on your mobile phone or calendar and complete it 2 days before your trip. This will save you from doing it at the last minute, and gives you ample time to find a solution if you are having any difficulties in completing the paperwork.
  4. Have your vaccine records ready. Make sure you have your vaccine records available and can produce them on demand. It’s beneficial to also have a printed copy in case your mobile phone loses power. Some destinations require proof of vaccine that is machine-readable with a QR code. Do your research before you leave to make sure your documents will pass.
  5. Give yourself plenty of time at the airport. While my experience has been good with few wait times, in many airports ground staff need to manually review all passengers’ documentation during the check-in process. While there are many companies trying to reduce the wait times by introducing new technical capabilities that will streamline the process, queues are still common.

In Spain – Mask Up!

To enter any public building, including hotel lobbies, restaurants and museums you must wear a face mask – and not just any. In many places, this means a medical-grade mask. Societal obedience is also high. I never encountered anyone flaunting the rules and masks were worn appropriately for the most part, covering both nose and mouth. Even outdoors, where mask use is not mandatory, I noticed a large majority of people wearing one.

In France – Download the TousAntiCovid app

In France, you will need a “pass sanitaire” to enter inside restaurants, cafés and bars as well as museums and galleries. This means you will need to upload your vaccination record and/or negative PCR or Antigen test to the TousAntiCovid app and show it before entry. EU residents can upload their home country’s vaccination records which will automatically be accepted by French authorities. 

For those who were vaccinated outside the EU, the process will be a bit more difficult. Non-EU residents will need to apply for their vaccination records to be transferred to the French system. The process can take up to a month to complete so ensure you apply well ahead of time. Otherwise, you’ll need to take a Covid test every 72 hours or find a pharmacy that will agree to upload your vaccine record (for a fee) to the French system for 72 hours at a time.

Two Countries Down, Four More to Go

14-day COVID-19 case notification rate per 100,000 population and test positivity in EU/EEA-

As my train leaves the Mediterranean coastline behind and heads north towards Paris, there is a shift in the air, and it’s not just the weather. I’m venturing closer towards major outbreak areas in Northern Europe. I’m two weeks out from a business event in Berlin and 10 days from one in London. At the time of writing, they both seem like they will go ahead, but the German government is not ruling out the possibility of a full lockdown. Only time will tell…

Suzanne Sangiovese is Riskline’s Commercial and Communications Director.

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