Deedra

Travel: Preparing for a Whole New Experience

by Deedra Abboud in Uncategorized
May 28, 2021 0 comments

It’s time to travel.

As a seasoned traveler and packer, this used to be second nature.

But now, after 13 months of self-imposed lockdown while watching the pandemic unfold locally and globally, getting ready to travel seems… odd… and confusing.

We’ve chosen a destination, decided on a month time-frame, and purchased the ticket.

What are the Covid rules for the destination?

Vaccinations

Are vaccination cards required? No. Not all countries are vaccinating at the same rate, not everyone has access to vaccines yet, and there’s no uniform documentation system that can be verified inside or outside most countries.

But what might happen in a month? We’ll take our vaccination cards… and protect them more than our passports.

Covid-19 Test

We need to get negative Covid tests 72 hours before we leave. Our destination, unlike Hawaii, doesn’t restrict the testing lab – they just want any US medical facility.

Checking the testing site at the airport, their website says to check for the PCR test results “3 to 5 days” after the test. That’s way outside our needs. So we go to the airport facility to find out if they guarantee results in time for our flight and how long before our flight we need to test. They tell us they need 45 minutes but aren’t open early enough on our travel date, so we need to test the day before. But we can only make an appointment online. We check appointments on our phone and see most of the day is available, six days from now, and decide to complete the process when we get home.

By the time we drive home, about 30 minutes, all appointments on that day are booked.

So we go with option B, another clinic in our city that guarantees the results in 45 minutes on their website. We make an appointment for 10am the day before we travel.

And we locate option C, a mobile lab that also guarantees same day results, just in case the option B doesn’t go smoothly.

That’s a lot of stress and uncertainty for a process that has been an international travel requirement for at least one year.

Will we need to get tested once we land? Will we need to quarantine? Will be need to be tested again a few days later?

Eight days ago, when we purchased our ticket, we needed to be tested upon landing, needed to quarantine for 10 days, but at our family’s home was fine if our tests were negative, and we needed follow-up tests two days after landing.

Three days later, testing upon landing and quarantine no longer required for US travelers.

And it could change again before we even get on the plane.

I’m not complaining. Covid is a moving target and as people increase movement around the globe, with some taking precautions and some not, the landscapes will continue to change beneath our feet.

Food and Drinks at the Airport

While we were at the airport, we noticed most pre-security restaurants in SkyHarbor are gone. Coffee shops and a couple of fast foods are about all that’s left – though they told us restaurants beyond security still exist.

It’s best we assume a layover airports are barebones as well.

Note to bring our own snacks. While we never depended on airport food before, they were an option if we forgot anything.

Passports

We haven’t looked at them in over a year, so let’s check the expiration dates. We’re good.

Have the visa rules changed? Nope. We can still get our visa upon landing at the destination country.

Masks

Masks are quickly disappearing in the US but airlines and airports still require them.

And while Arizona never enforced the mask mandates even when we had them on the city and county levels, airports and airlines aren’t playing around. People who refuse to wear masks are being shown exits, receiving hefty fines, and even being placed on long-term flying bans.

On our 24 hour flight that includes two layovers, it’s recommended that we change masks every three hours due to the moisture build-up from our own breathing. So, we need to pack extra masks in our carry-on.

And our destination has masks requirements, strictly enforced with very high fines.

So, while hubby and I are vaccinated, we will continue to wear masks because we don’t know the status of those we come in contact with and it’s not worth getting comfortable not wearing masks when we will travel to a place that requires masks in just a few days.

TSA Pre-Check & CLEAR

We have both TSA Pre-Check and CLEAR. At least we used to. It’s been a while. Have they changed anything? I don’t know. I’ll have to research… or just figure it out on the fly as we go.

Packing

And now it’s finally time to think about what to actually take with us.

This used to be so routine. I had it down to a science.

But after more than a year of wearing only comfy clothes and not seeing other people, it just feels… odd.

Never mind that the comfy clothes for the last year consisted of mainly 2 pairs of jeans, 5 t-shirts, 3 pairs of shoes, 4 scarves, and several pajama ensembles.

I even moved all my dressy clothes into the spare room closet – out of sight, out of mind.

Now, what to pack for an international destination after the whole world is opening up after a pandemic isolation?

Will our family want to continue staying home, or will they want to go out and explore malls and restaurants?

What balance of dressy, comfy, casual do I want to attain in this new world-view I’m creating?

Will there be weddings of their friends that they forgot to mention that I will need to attend in something other than jeans? Do my dressy clothes even fit anymore? I’m not going shopping or stressing over speed shipping, so something in my closet better work.

What are my comfort items now? Because they have definitely changed.

What were my comfort items before that I haven’t needed while staying home all the time? Like a backup phone battery, chargers, and adapters.

And what about gifts? We haven’t seen the family in more than a year. Should we do gifts? Have gift-types changed?

We’ll just do the kids.

Five days before my travel date, I’ve already laid out one luggage and started placing “needed” items inside that I don’t use every day, like clothing and shoe outfits: 5 pairs of jeans, 10 shirts, 5 pairs of shoes, 2 dresses of different fashion levels, and 7 scarves.

For a month. That’s new.

I’ve also started packing my toiletries – living out of the toiletry bag for my daily activities so I don’t forget what I “need” daily.

And then the carry-on bag.

Computer and accessories, extra masks, a pen for filling out forms, tissue packs, hand sanitizer, Advil, snacks, gum, backup battery, chargers, earphones, and books/magazines.

We don’t even want to share pens, might even pack extra so I don’t need a “borrowed” one back. And an “unnecessary” tip to the bathroom for tissue is so not on our agenda.

Welcome to the new age of ultimate self-sufficiency.

I feel so out of practice while facing so many unknowns.

But, I’m getting out of the house and changing my routine, so I think it’s all worth it.

Travel has always required packing your flexibility and patience if you want to really enjoy it. That’s only become more important than ever.

The world of travel is changing and want to embrace it with joy while also being responsible, regardless of what others are doing.

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