(Editor’s note: This post about traveling safely in a pandemic is the second in a two-part series about finding the perfect expat pandemic escape. You can see Pt. 1 about Cyprus here.)
If you’ve been dreaming of blue seas and less stress during the pandemic, relatively safe and attractive options exist.
We’re in our third country after having left Atlanta on 1 July, staying between two and three months in the same location in each country, Serbia and Greece. Obviously, following safety restrictions and avoiding closed spaces is essential to trying to stay safe.
In general, flight choices these days are a lot fewer and rates higher. It took us – my husband Martin and me – two days to travel from the Greece island of Corfu to Cyprus, a trip that normally would have taken a half day.
Getting from point A to B requires more planning to stay safe. For example, we hire a driver to meet us at the airport rather than taking the bus. We stay at airport hotels we can walk to rather than taking hotel shuttles or taxis.
We pay extra if necessary to sit in an exit row on planes, which offer more space between passengers. We take the fewest number of flights we can, and we travel on days of week with more than one flight to our destination … or at least one the following day in case the flight is canceled.
We start each journey with a new mask and refrain from speaking when possible on the plane or on all public transportation.
Martin and I try to follow the below points when choosing a destination during a pandemic:
• check the virus rate per 100,000 in population before you travel to a country. You can see that data here for countries in Europe.
• check to make certain there is adequate healthcare at your destination if you do get sick. Healthcare across Europe varies, with Switzerland, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark considered to have the best systems. Countries lacking optimal healthcare include Romania, Poland, Hungary and Albania.
• choose a city, town or village with lower population density to lower your chances of contagion.
• choose a destination with amenities within walking distance because you want to avoid public transport if possible.
• use social media to check out what locals say about digital infrastructure because you’ll need good internet connection.
• make sure there are places for nice walks to relieve stress.
• find a destination with moderate temperatures and mostly sunny days. We chose Cyprus, which has winter highs averaging about 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Of course, lovely sea or water views will cheer you up, but avoid being too close to roads with heavy traffic.
Finally, here are my go-to resources I use to plan each journey:
• Rome2Rio is an excellent website that shows you how to get anywhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car.
• Skyscanner is good for flight options including discount airlines.
• For country travel restrictions, check IATA – International Travel Document News (iatatravelcentre.com)
• It’s always good to check your country’s embassy websites at your destination. The United States Department of State, for example, posts detailed information including global travel advisories.
• Also check the website of your destination country.
About the author:
Marjorie Boyd has been on the road since her first trip to France in high school. She’s a native of Louisville, Kentucky, but spent most of her career in Atlanta where she worked in import-export and corporate recruitment.
She earned her MBA at the University of Kentucky. She and her husband Martin have visited about 40 countries including most of Europe, China, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and much of Southeast Asia.
Maggie is Dispatches co-founder Terry Boyd’s sister.
You can read about her travels to Greece, Bulgaria and Vietnam here.