Travel during a global pandemic may seem out of reach, but don’t completely rule it out just yet. Most countries are accepting students for travel purposes such as study and intern abroad. Take your virtual classes with you while safely and mindfully navigating a new culture, language, and country. Though your experience will be modified, you can still make the most out of your time abroad. If you’re still skeptical, here are 3 safety tips for your next adventure abroad during a pandemic.
1. Choose an airline with enhanced priority for health measures.
It’ll be important for you to travel the safest way possible, so you’ll want to start your research on different airlines and airports. Each is handling health and cleaning measures differently than others. Some different aspects of health measures to look for include:
- flights that block the middle seat
- enforced mask-wearing and steps for non-compliance
- providing masks in case yours does not pass the safety guidelines (ie., some airports may only permit certain types of masks such as KN95 or other medical-grades)
- airlines with flexible cancellation policies that will give travel vouchers for missed, canceled, or postponed flights even unrelated to contracting COVID-19.
- enhanced cleaning protocols between and during flights such as air-filtering systems that exchange cabin air every 3-4 minutes and hospital-grade disinfectant cleaning
2. Note any medical issues or costs that may arise during your time abroad.
With the vaccine being rapidly given out and new testing methods for COVID-19, make sure you also research the particular types that are accepted per country and airline. Typically, travelers have to present a negative PCR testing within 3 days of a trip (as per airline) and possibly quarantine up to 2 weeks (as per country). Note that most insurance providers cover free COVID-19 tests. When you’re abroad, check that you can get a free test as well (otherwise, it could be upwards of $200).
To add, medical insurance may work a little differently in a foreign country. In Spain, for example, if you find yourself needing medical attention you will have to pay the bill upfront and will be reimbursed when you return home to the U.S.
“U.S. citizens can obtain a COVID-19 test in Spain for free if prescribed by a public health doctor, or by paying an average of €120 if they obtain the test from a private medical facility, such as those on the Embassy’s Medical Services List.” – US Embassy in Spain
Lastly, pharmacies and the availability of medicines may be different too. For example, certain cold medicines like Nyquil/Dayquil are not commonly found in other countries. Make sure to pack certain over-the-counter medicines from home that you may need for minor illnesses…This will save you a lot of stress from finding a similar antidote at the last minute, which may need a doctor’s prescription instead.
3. Be aware of COVID-19 regulations per country.
As a U.S. citizen, you can check the country-specific U.S. Embassy page to see important notices regarding COVID-19 such as testing, quarantines and curfews in place, consulate hours, and regional resources (Example: COVID-19 Information for the U.S. Embassy in Spain). These pages will be helpful for preparing flights and future travel plans. You can even receive travel updates and security alerts in-country through the U.S. State Department STEP program (https://step.state.gov/), which you will need to register for beforehand. The STEP program is also good for getting in touch with family or friends in the case of an emergency.
In addition, the CDC posts travel recommendations by country. Keep in mind that student visas are still being accepted in most countries, as they are distinct from normal tourist visas. Our Adelante Abroad Team will also walk you through all the necessary steps of acquiring your visa and ensuring that your travels go as smoothly as possible… even amidst a pandemic.
While nothing is certain about what 2021 will bring, we’re here to ensure you that your goals to intern or study abroad are still possible. That said, some aspects of your experience abroad will be modified. Concerts, large gatherings, and nightlife, for example, are still on pause. However, there is still a lot of meaningful opportunities awaiting: taking in a new culture, language, and country—these alone beat being stuck at home.
An internship or study abroad can still be the adventure of a lifetime just as long as you are traveling consciously and respectfully. There is still a global pandemic, so expect the unexpected. Your health and safety are our top priority, and we want you to succeed and have an unforgettable experience. As always, keep the travel bug close and your dreams closer.
Until next time,
Adelante Abroad HQ Intern
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