What you need to know when booking international travel

At last, we have a clear picture about how and when we can travel to Europe. Or do we?

A few things have become clear, or clearer. The speed at which Aussies and Kiwis are getting double vaccinated has exceeded expectations, and suddenly, at least in NSW and Victoria, they have ripped that band aid off and international borders have re-opened.
 
I do find it somewhat ironic that these two states suddenly allow double vaccinated Australians to come home from countries where Covid still runs riot, without the need for any quarantine, yet it took another couple of weeks to allow local, double vaccinated, Australians to even drive across the state border of these two states! Weird!
 
Where is the logic in that?
 
Right now, airlines are planning on ramping up the number of international flights servicing Australia and New Zealand. This will naturally take months for capacity to grow.
 
The government has prioritized Australians coming home, which is wonderful. So many families joyfully re-uniting after so long in unsettling isolation and distancing. Next on the list will be international students and after that… who knows?
 
There are lots of rules and regulations, new paperwork to consider, and one thing for sure is that whatever is in place now, you can be certain it will change. To help you plan your international travel I have compiled an overview of the current vaccination rules, regulations and paperwork both here and overseas.
 
Plus, things you need to absolutely watch out for that will not change. This is what I can find, this is what I know, this is what I have learned. And I have learned something else… this will all change! But rest assured we will be on top of it. 
 

Check your passport validity

Remember your passport needs a validity of 6 months after your travel dates. Check it now. The Passport Office has advised that there are many Passports that have expired, or are about to, and that it will take months to clear the future demand and sometimes several months to process. So, right now… go check. That is the first easy step.


Choose travel insurance with specific COVID cover

With Albatross it is a condition of travel that you are adequately insured for the duration of your trip. Note the word ‘adequately’. You really should choose a comprehensive travel insurance cover not only for the usual possible cancellation, medical requirements, luggage, repatriations, and additional expenses. But also specific Covid cover.

Various companies have upgraded their policies but ‘buyer beware’ go into the detail - check the product disclosure statement and ensure you are aware of its conditions and omissions. Always remember the choice of insurer is yours. Don’t automatically take the first or only one offered.

I am not allowed to provide insurance advice so the last thing I can say on that is I suggest you purchase insurance at the time you pay your deposit. This is because, with Covid around, you may well need it before you travel.

Here is an alternative, interesting development. Maybe your airline will provide that cover for a minimal charge free? Last week I was struck by a brilliant piece of marketing from Emirates. If you book before the end of November 2021 - they will provide what appears to be full international insurance for the regular things, plus strong cover for Covid reasons. For FREE! The statement says buy their tickets and get the insurance automatically for free. Check it out for yourself.

That is just one current deal. Watch out for more!
 

‘Reconsider your need for travel’ – that’s official

You can listen to all the media bash, news splashes and travel excitability all you like. But please note though that whilst the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller web site advice has been lifted from “Do not Travel”, it actually currently lists every country out there in the world at the next step down from severe level of ‘Reconsider your need for travel’.

That will change in time, but you need to bear in mind that pre-covid, this level of advice triggered mass cancellations. As before, it will change in time.

 

Carry proof of your COVID vaccinations

As I predicted a while ago, you will not be allowed to leave or come home unless you are double vaccinated. You will not be able to enter Europe unless you are currently fully vaccinated. And here is the thing, the move to be currently fully vaccinated is what will be integrated right across many parts of Europe.

The requirement will be that on top of two or more vaccinations, your last vaccination will need to be less than 6 months prior to arrival into that country. Folks, as predicted, that will mean booster shots will be necessary. No problem as any intelligent person will certainly want one for their own enhanced safety.

You will need to provide proof of vaccination status on entry. That document of proof is readily downloadable from the MyGov site. You want the International Travel document. Not the domestic document.

Here is a HUGE tip. Download this document to your smartphone, yes. BUT also print it out. Keep duplicates in your suitcase case.

Why is paper always better? Because smartphones run out of power, they break, or backfire and they also get lost or stolen. If you only have a digital copy, each one of those occurrences will stop your travel dead in the tracks. A printed copy is a vital back up.

In Europe as far as I can gather all countries accept that document as proof, but some countries require more if you want to enter venues, dine in a restaurant, or ride in a train. There are so many country variations and hoops to jump through. For instance, you can go to beautiful Switzerland with your double vaccination certificate but if you want to go in a restaurant and indulge in a gorgeous fondue you need also to have a Swiss Covid certificate. This certificate costs 30 Swiss Francs ($50) and takes 5 days to receive it after your online application. The Swiss have a great web site with heaps of travel information.
 

We are full members of CATO

The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is a brilliant organization that in these trying past 2 years has been a magnificent support to Tour Operators like us. They released this Government Industry advice last week. It shows the current complexity and detail being considered and handled.
 

But the most important thing of all is that everything will change

These details are current. Understand they are out there, what might be required. But, assuming your first bite at the travel apple will be later next year, wait, watch and see what documentation you will eventually need. I will be writing more on this.

Feel free to forward this to a friend who might be asking these travel questions.
michele's picture
Michele Zavaglia

Michele Zavaglia