Travelling Abroad During Covid-19
On Wednesday the 7th of October 2020, I set off on a very different kind of holiday. I kept telling myself that it was going to be the same as any other holiday but this one was going to be very different, and that was because of Covid-19 restrictions.
The holiday had been originally booked for June but it had been rearranged for October and then we found out that British Airways were backing out of Gatwick so we now had to fly from Heathrow. This lead to us having to book airport parking which I've never done before, we usually fly from Gatwick so that we can stay with my parents the night before and then get the bus to the airport.
I wanted to make sure that everything went off without a hitch so 1 week before the holiday, I had the Passenger Locator Forms all done, all of the holiday clothes were packed and ready to go the day before we were due to set off. I printed off every document that I thought we might need just in case I couldn't pick up wifi or a signal when we got to Kos. Everything with a battery life was charged up the day before. Our QR codes came through by email the night before so that was a relief.
The day before we were due to set off on our holiday, I got the call that our hotel had decided to close early due to not having enough guests. I later found out from a few people online that it would have been us and a few other couples in the whole hotel so to the hotel manager, it was logical to close instead of spending out lots of money on staff, utilities, etc. We got another hotel but it was on the other side of the island away from where we had wanted to stay.
The next challenge was having to hear a face mask for longer than we've had to before. It started from when we dropped our car off at the meet and greet desk for Purple Parking and had to keep them for most of our journey up until we got to our hotel in Kos. The only time we took the masks off was when we were eating and drinking.
In the airport wasn't too bad, there wasn't as many people as there used to be so there was plenty of seating and we could all social distance. The only time you take your mask off is to eat or drink so we went straight to the pub in the terminal so we could sit down, get some few and have a few drinks before our flight.
**FACE MASK TIP** Have a bottle of drink and a few snacks with you all times so that if you need a break from wearing your face mask, you can take it off to have a few sips of your drink and eat a snack. It does help as that is what we did and it helped break up having to wear the face mask for so long.
As I'm sure you know, you can usually check in online 24 hours before your flight but on this flight, British Airways asked that we check in at the airport so we decided to get their a little bit earlier to get sorted in case there was queues but we got there super early and went straight up to a check in desk. The man at the desk wanted to see our PLFs so I was glad that I had everything downloaded onto my phone.
Boarding the plane was done differently, instead of boarding by priority, first class and then the rest of the plane, it was done by rows from the back of the plane to the front. Lucky enough, I had picked our seats on the British Airways app 2 days before the flight and had picked the very back seats so we got on the plane first.
We were given a little bag with pouches of antiseptic towel and hand sanitiser gel. The in-flight meal had changed as well, instead of a hot meal it was a bag with a very small bottle of water, a bag of crisps and a packet with 2 little cookies in it. Good thing we had eaten in the airport before boarding.
We were asked not to get up and walk around the plane unless we needed the toilet or if we really needed to get up. They didn't want us lining up in the walkway so when there was one person in the toilet, there could be one person waiting to go in but they would have to wait as the toilets were cleaned between uses.
When we got to Kos, we got through passport control quite quickly, the line was always moving. Then just before we moved through to get our luggage, there was a man checking the QR codes on our PLF. We both had codes that started with a 7 but I was told to get tested and Sean told to go and get our bags. I then got into another queue and when I got to the front, my QR code was scanned, the code on a test swab was scanned and given to me. I walked over to a man dressed in lots of PPE who told me to sit down, he opened the swap and stuck it down my throat making me gag. He put the swab back in the case and told me I could go, that was it. I had a dry throat for a little while but otherwise I was fine.
As soon as we got out outside the airport, we took off our masks to get some fresh air but then had to put them back on again when we got on the coach to the hotel.
When we got to the hotel, we were told that we didn't have to have a mask on in the hotel but if we were to go into shops, bars and restaurants, we would need to wear a mask until we sit down and then we can take them off. We had to have them on all the time on public transport and in a taxis so more or less the same as back home.
When we went on a boat day trip, we had to fill in a form saying that as far as we knew, we weren't ill, been in contact with some who has covid, etc like back at home when we do the track and trace forms. Then we had our temperature taken before we could get on the boat.
** FACE MASK TIP ** If you are prone to forgetting your mask when you go out, get a multi-pack of masks and keep them in your bag, at least you will always have some in your bag if you forget one.
As strange as some of it was, it was easy to get used to after a few days.