International Travel in the Time of Covid

Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post about getting ready for an international trip in the time of Covid. My group had a wonderful time in Costa Rica so now it’s time for a recap.

Here’s what it’s like to traveling internationally in the time of Covid.

We flew out of Houston’s IAH airport on United. Everyone in the airport was masked and things moved efficiently from check-in to arriving at the gate. A few more precautions but nothing unusual that we haven’t experienced in 2020.

Photographers on the Strabo Photo Tours Collection trip to Costa Rica in March 2021. (Front left to right: Joan Wilson, Ruby Pecot, Kathy Adams Clark, Ed Barrios. Rear left to right: Will Hamilton and Barbara Hamilton.

On the plane, United personnel greeted us and gave us a nice, big alcohol wipe. The United wipes are the best I’ve seen! They are huge and wet enough to clean the entire area around your seat.

United personnel no long open your drink for you and pour into a small cup. That’s a “touch point” that’s been eliminated. We get the entire can of soft drink! Love it!

Once we landed in Costa Rica, we had to follow all local Covid protocols. Masks in pubic and hand washing before entering any public building.

This last one was different for us as Americans. There’s a handwashing station outside every public building — every store, shop, lobby entrance, restaurant, etc. Each handwashing station has a foot operated water dispenser, soap, paper towels, and trash can. We never found one of these handwashing stations that wasn’t working and fully equipped.

Restaurant menus were emailed to our Costa Rican guide or we accessed it through a QR code.

QR codes were used several times. There was a QR code we had to present to the agent in Houston to prove we had Costa Rican travel insurance that would cover us in the event of Covid. We even had a QR code to access our Covid test at departure.

The US requires a negative Covid test within three days of departure for all people flying into the United States. That meant we had to be tested while we were in Costa Rica. Our tour company arranged for lab technicians to arrive at our lodge at an appointed time and administer the tests. The major hotels are offering this service now since all departing tourists need the test.

After our tests, we had to wait 24 hours for the results. Results were emailed to each person. Those results had to be uploaded to the United app for verification.

A person has to have a smartphone to travel today. This is my biggest takeaway from traveling in the time of Covid. QR code at departure, QR code to get a menu, ability to receive an email with an attachment, ability to upload that attachment to an app, ability to have an app on your phone, etc. All this sounds easy in the US but international travel complicates things. It’s interesting how many travelers can’t get emails away from home on their phone or can’t download an app away from home. Traveling with a flip phone is out!

Everyone in my group had been vaccinated. That meant we could take off our masks when it was just us. Around waiters, hotel staff, our guide, or driver we did wear our masks. It became pretty routine.

In conclusion, travel in the time of Covid is pretty easy. The usual complications are still there but only a few minor things added here and there to keep people safe. We followed the established rules and had a great time.

Author: kathyadamsclark

Professional photographer leading workshops and tours.

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