What to expect if you travel abroad in a Covid-19 world

As the borders reopen corespondent Emma Murphy reports on travel in a Covid world and her top tip - your mask is as important as your passport so pack plenty. And don’t forget your snacks.

I realise this is slightly bizarre but I have a friend whose mum used to hide a roast chicken in her luggage every time they went on a foreign holiday, “because you never know what there’ll be when you get there.”

How often I’ve thought of that cunning plan in the last few weeks in airports or hotels without a bite to eat or drop to drink.

I’m not advocating breaching border control rules here but listen up if you’re heading off. Pack your snacks.

And while you’re at it stock up on masks and gel and a few extra pens for the paperwork.

Fear not, the world beyond our borders is still there but travel in this changed world is not for the faint hearted, especially not after weeks of lockdown isolation.

The road to Covid-freedom is paved with good intentions but not great implementation.

Credit: PA
  • The Airport

Despite the social distance stickers markers and arrows at the airport the reality is social distancing vanishes even before check in.

Security is one long queue with a lot of touching and the bus...well brace, we’ve been stuck on loads, doors closed everyone in tight contact. The reality is the minute you are on the plane you’re crammed together so probably not worth worrying too much.

The baggage carousel is another crunch point. If nothing else the scrum is familiar and if you’re standing back there’s usually a great array of masks, facial shields and even the odd chemical protection suit to keep you distracted.

And then there’s the paperwork - that’s where you need your spare pens. I counted one pen passed between eleven people in Italy. Probably not the best plan.

Social distance markers at Edinburgh Airport. Credit: PA
  • The hotel

Standby for lots of plexiglass and covid prevention measures even though check-in is similar. There’s clearly a wish not to touch passports and credit cards but it is just a wish.

If you’re a hotel room snacker be warned. A boxed brekkie in the room is a big win. Otherwise it’s a trip to Spar if it’s open. And it’s not always.

Gel is a must if you're travelling abroad. Credit: AP
  • Restaurants

With restaurants closed at home the huge treat of a meal out is undeniable.

Again, there may be a temperature check, a bit of gel and a gap between the tables but it’s a bit hit and miss.

Some places have ventured into QR codes instead of menus but passing the code round on a piece of laminated paper seems to defeat the object. So too did the waiter grabbing my phone to kindly explain how it was done. Gel is the must have condiment.

Plastic partitions separate people at a restaurant in New York. Credit: AP
  • Masks

Now here’s the absolute must. Masks are mandatory on most airlines and in most countries, much more so than in the UK.

Pack plenty and remember if you’re going somewhere warm ditch fashion for safety and comfort.

They are super hot and as soon as you leave home you’re going to have one on. The square surgical ones are light. The fashion ones are suffocatingly hot.

So there you have it. Plan and pack well. And I can’t stress the snacks enough. Don’t lie in bed hungry thinking of that roast chicken. Have a lovely holiday!