8 Essential Travel Tips to Know Before Boarding a Plane

Qantas airport lounge, Sydney, NSW

There’s no denying that international travel has a few more processes and forms than it used to. But don’t let that put you off. As long as you prepare in advance you’ll be safely away on that dream holiday before you know it. Here are eight essential steps to follow before boarding a plane.

Download your international vaccination certificate

If you’re travelling in or out of Australia, you’ll still be required to provide evidence of double vaccination against COVID-19, in the form of an international vaccination certificate. This is different to the regular green vaccine card that most of us now carry on our phones. It’s a navy blue colour and includes your passport number. You access it through your MyGov or Medicare account, just as you did with your green vaccination certificate. Here’s how to do it. Save it into your phone’s wallet, just like the green one.

Check the inbound country you’re travelling in about their requirements

Every country has different requirements for entry and they change regularly. Make sure you’ve double-checked the country you’re travelling to well in advance and check again closer to your time of travel – as we know, travel requirements can change from one day to the next.

You don't automatically need a COVID-19 test to board an international flight out of Australia, however many destinations will require proof of a negative test before they let you in. If the country you’re flying to requires an inbound COVID-19 test, be sure you understand which type they require and how soon you need to take it before you fly. Check with the Qantas Travel Ready hub to review all the entry requirements for countries all over the world. From April 18, Australia will no longer require international arrivals to take a rapid-antigen test (RAT) before they board a flight into Australia, so that means you won't have to get a COVID-19 test overseas before you fly home. Before that date you will still need a PCR test or a supervised RAT: check with your hotel or other accommodation about how that test can be administered in your destination country.

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Buy travel insurance that covers COVID-19

Trevi Fountain, Rome

Not all travel insurance will cover you if you’re forced to extend your trip to isolate yourself if you test positive for COVID-19, or if you need COVID-19-related medical treatment while overseas – but it’s becoming more common. CHOICE have compiled a useful list of the insurers who are offering COVID-19 coverage here. Some countries – such as Thailand – may require proof that you have adequate insurance coverage before you arrive.

Have a plan in case of catching COVID-19 overseas

Obviously this is something no one wants to happen but it’s best to consider the worst case scenario. Speak to the accommodation at your destination about what will happen if you catch COVID-19 overseas. Will you be able to isolate in their hotel? Or will you be sent to specific quarantining facilities? How will you get food and other necessities? And where will you be treated if you require medical attention? Ask the questions now to save shocks down the line. If you have a job that allows you to work from home then this is probably the one time you should consider bringing your laptop on holiday, just in case you need to work while you’re in isolation.

Carry print-outs of everything

It’s great to have information such as vaccination certificates and your negative COVID-19 test results on your phone but it’s worth carrying print-outs as well. They are easier to access from a folder rather than searching through your phone, and mean you’re covered if your phone’s battery goes flat during transit.

Arrive at the airport early

New York

In normal times, airlines recommend that you arrive at the airport three hours before an international flight. If you’re a confident traveller this may be too much but with the extra checks needed for COVID-19 protocols, it’s a fairly good window and many people may even want to add an extra hour just in case. You can also get a COVID-19 PCR or RAT test at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports, which takes 90 minutes to give you a result, so factor this timing in if that’s what you’ve chosen to do (you will not be able to begin the check-in process until you have that result).

Remember your masks

All flights out of Australia still require you to wear a mask for the duration of your journey. Make sure you have a few on hand so you can swap them during your trip. Lightweight surgical masks tend to be more comfortable when worn for long periods than heavier cloth masks.

Be kind

Everyone at the airport and on board your flight is working hard to help you get to your destination safely. Work with them and not against them and you’ll be on your way to that holiday you deserve.

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