Plan your travel carefully

THE reopening of borders is surely a window to your dream getaway to beaches, mountains, cities and monuments after being unable to holiday abroad for two years.

Some people can’t wait to travel again while others worry about catching Covid-19 while on their travels.

While there are risks in travelling internationally during this pandemic, there are also some rewards – particularly from the economic, social and business standpoint. The government has decided to reopen the borders on April 1.

The reopening of borders gives the travel and tourism sector a much needed shot in the arm. Alongside that, several other sectors will benefit from it including consumer, gaming, transport, brewery, insurance and even healthcare.

Of course, travel will not be as it was before the pandemic when people can just pack their bags and leave. This also explains why some are taking the wait-and-see approach before going on a holiday.

“For this year, I prefer Cuti-Cuti Malaysia. It is a hassle to go abroad as some people are asymptomatic. It would be tragic to test positive after arriving at the destination and having to quarantine. I also prefer no mask mandates,’’ Lee (not his real name) said.

Travelling these days requires a lot more strategic planning, experts said.

Apart from following standard operating procedures (SOPs) at airports and home country rules, travellers must also know the destination country rules and SOPs.

That is why Asmah (not her real name) said that she will not travel abroad yet.

“I can’t afford the healthcare if I get Covid-19 on my international travels. Even though I am on insurance cover for Covid, I still will have to pay for another insurance. Why waste money as times are hard for now?’’ she said.

Whatever the situation, you may decide – sooner or later – to take to the skies. Before that, careful planning is critical to avoid disappointments or bursting your budgets.

If you get a bargain, well and good, but experts predict that ticket prices may be slightly higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The Russian-Ukraine war has also pushed crude oil prices higher and that means jet fuel prices are higher now and some airlines have begun to impose fuel surcharges. That is an added cost in travelling.

In your planning, you should also check each destination country’s website for Covid-19 information and travel requirements, as regulations are constantly changing. Also check the requirements on your return trip back home.

Experts believe it is best to start with short trips and know your risk acceptance level. Be alert when purchasing travel insurance policies during the pandemic as some programmes do not cover claims arising from Covid-19.

Each country has its own requirements on how much insurance coverage you should have before arrival in the destination country.

The plan should cover the whole period of your travel including layover destinations. Spend some time reading the fine print, experts said.

On top of that, bring your own medications (including for chronic medication), sanitisers and masks with added protection.

When you come back from your trip, be aware of the development of any symptoms.

Check out the quarantine requirements and whether you are allowed to do so in a hotel and the costs involved.

Have a budget to work on as the last thing you want is to burst your budgets and be in debt from a holiday.

As Asmah puts it, times are tough, and while you are eager to travel again, make detailed plans and be prepared for any eventuality at every stage of your travel itinerary.

If travelling with children, take extra precaution for them as it can be costly staying in hotels and being quarantined in a foreign country.

Still, all this should not deter you from taking to the skies so long as you have things under control to enjoy your freedom of travelling again.

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