As parts of the world begin to open up, international travel is becoming possible again in the wake of the COVID pandemic. It's undeniable, though, that there are a number of additional complications that need to be handled along the way. Check out these preparation tips on how to prepare for your next holiday to help you breeze through the hurdles and once again enjoy exploring overseas!
Prior to booking…
Get your scuba gear out and visually inspect all items. Depending on how recently you used your equipment it may need a service. Check the last service date to make sure.If you don't own any of your own gear yet, this is a good time to think about building a gear collection of your own with some staple essentials such as mask, snorkel, fins and dive computer.When did you last dive? If it has been more than 6 months to one year you should consider refreshing your skills with a PADI Scuba Refresher at your local dive centre to review and update your skills.Is your travel insurance up to date and does it meet any insurance requirements of the country you are visiting?Does your insurance policy cover scuba diving and up to what depth? If diving isn't included, contact your insurer for an upgrade or consider getting DAN scuba diving insurance.Check any visa requirements for your destination country and apply for your visa in advance, if required.Check for any quarantine periods and restrictions upon entry to your chosen destination and your return home.Check the refund and cancellation policy on any flights you are thinking about booking.
Stay Updated – From Planning to Departure!
As new variants trigger fresh outbreaks, travel restrictions are constantly changing and being vaccinated is becoming a requirement to enter some countries and also some indoor venues, such as restaurants and malls, in many locations. If you are not yet vaccinated you should consider getting vaccinated, if that is an option for you.
The Centre for Disease Control publishes a list of “very high” COVID-19 risk destinations which should generally be avoided. Check the list here.
Keep watching your own country's government website to check for any re-entry restrictions or requirements.
Be Prepared For Changes
Airlines are facing staff shortages and are operating on reduced flight schedules which means you are more likely to face schedule changes or delays. Keep up to date with information from the airline and look out for travel updates.
If you do find your flight or other bookings are cancelled, there are a number of remedies to pursue (see below). But above all, be prepared for changes.
3 Days Pre-Departure
Reconfirm your reservations. This should include those for airlines, car rentals, hotels, dive centres and any other pre-booked tours and activities.Recheck your digital tool kit. Make sure you can log in to travel provider apps and any other navigation and destination tools. If the country you are visiting has a track and trace COVID-19 app, download it. Add any missing customer service phone contacts.Sign up for travel provider alerts. This way, you'll get immediate information on changes.Inform your bank / credit card issuer that you will be overseas to prevent your cards from being cancelled.Check for any new travel restrictions with the embassy of the country you are visiting.If you are required to take a PCR test prior to flying, check the time limit on this and get tested within the time window.
The Day Before
Check in online. Doing this 24 hours before departure can help you skip ticket counter lines.Print your boarding pass. It's wise to have a backup for your digital pass.Gather documents. Put your passport, driver's license, boarding pass, PADI certification cards, and vaccination record in a folder or large envelope so that they're together.Scroll key websites. Check the CDC, and destination websites for any news, such as COVID-19 restrictions, that might affect your travel plans.Get packed! If you can, stick with a single carry-on to minimize waits at check-in or the risk of lost luggage. If you have dive gear and check-in luggage, make sure it is beneath the weight restrictions offered by the airline.Pick up any last-minute essential items ,including facemasks and hand sanitizer.
En-Route to the Airport
Scan your phone. Look for alerts, such as notifications about gate changes or flight delays.Have travel documents handy. Make sure they are all together and easy to access.Give a heads-up. Let any contacts at your destination know that you're on the way.
If You Run Into Problems
Be polite and persistent. Customer reps will be more likely to help you.If your flight is delayed or cancelled, call the airline or use its app, even if you're in line for a gate agent. This may let you reschedule your flight faster.If the hotel or other operator loses your reservation, ask the manager to provide a substitute, or even an upgrade. Or check other options–a vacation rental or a room in another hotel, for example.Ask for a refund. If the services are not available, request your money back, or a credit or voucher. Stay calm.
If you are ready to start planning your next trip, check out PADI dive centres and resorts on PADI Travel here.
Happy diving and safe travels!