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Your guide to getting as travel-ready as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic

Although travel is slowly picking up again, with the Covid-19 pandemic ongoing and some restrictions still in place, the safest thing to do is to stay home. So what do you do if it's an urgent international or domestic trip that’s unavoidable? If you must travel during this challenging time and amid new Covid-19 strains, here are some things you need to know in order to travel safe and well.

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Get your papers sorted

Dusting off your passport for the first time in a year? Check if it has expired during your travel lull period. If you’re setting off to a country that may need additional paperwork such as visas, entry permits, proof of negative Covid-19 tests, travel insurance, or documentation for medical assistance, it’s important to get those sorted out as well. That'll save you a lot of heartaches and from burning a hole in your pocket.

For interstate flights in Malaysia, you'll require a valid police permit (obtainable from any district police station) or risk being denied entry to the terminal by the authorities.

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Swab more than once

Make Covid-19 swabs part of your pre-and post-travel checklist. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting tested one to three days before your flight and three to five days after your trip, and stay home for seven days. Even if you test negative, stay home for the full seven days.

That said, it's advisable to consistently check for updates on local recommendations or requirements, even if you’re travelling domestically by road.

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Beware the hidden costs

Some destinations, such as Australia and Hong Kong, require a mandatory quarantine or self-isolation for arrivals, especially if you’re coming from a high-risk country. For example, quarantine in Hong Kong for one person (inclusive of meals) for 21 days can cost at least HKD10,080 (about RM5,259)—and this is ever-evolving.

To add on, ensure you’re eligible for free cancellations or refunds in case unforeseen delays or terminations happen to your bookings. Always keep an eye out for news updates and check with your airline on your flight schedules.

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Know your locales

Which is the hospital nearest to you? Where are the testing centres within the vicinity of your accommodation? Are there any Covid-19 contact tracing apps (for Malaysia, it's MySejahtera) or digital devices you’re required to use? How much is the cost of testing? More importantly, what are the local numbers to call just in case you need to contact your Embassy or High Commission?

A little research goes a long way. Get those details and keep them within reach!

Read more: Where To Get Tested For Covid-19 In Kuala Lumpur & Petaling Jaya

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Covid-19 travel essentials

Packing important everyday items is not sufficient as you also need to pack plenty of protection—and we don’t mean just a bountiful of medical-grade disposable masks and hand sanitisers. Be sure to include protective covers, a small medical kit, hand soap, gloves, visors, a disinfectant spray, disinfectant wipes, and a personal water bottle. It doesn't hurt to have more than just enough.

Read more: 8 Luxe Hand Sanitisers For Hygiene On The Go

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Always be responsible

Depending on the type of surface and other external factors such as temperature, the live coronavirus can survive anywhere between a couple of hours to a couple of days. Although it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s enough to make a person sick, you’d want to ensure you’re being as a responsible traveller.

Seal your rubbish (protective covers, gloves, masks, tissues, wipes, plastic wrappings, packaging) in proper trash bags and dispose of them in designated bins. Practise the ‘leave no trace’ principle.

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