Lessons From First International Travel During The Pandemic

Lessons Learned

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Many Lessons From First International Travel During The Pandemic

We sure learned lessons from our first International travel during the pandemic. And hope some of these lessons will inform your questions if you are planning a new trip.

Since we were cruising around South America when Covid-19 first hit, we got an early close up view of some of the changes the pandemic brought to international travel. Over the 18 months since we left the cruise ship, we watched as the requirements for international travel and cruising evolved and changed.

All of our travel in 2021 was local or longer Canadian road trips. When we finally planned our first trip out of Canada, we thought that tough Covid travel requirements were still in place. But we found that high levels of vaccination may have eroded the processes we felt might still be quite necessary.

Our Personal Covid Risk Decisions

We thought we should address our own thoughts about the Covid risk that certainly impacted our view of this first international travel trip. We totally understood that so many people felt that vaccination brought life back to normal. And they were ready to give up masks, social distancing and capacity constraints.

Personally we continued to be far more conservative than that. We accepted that with vaccination, we were less likely to get seriously ill and die. And that was wonderful. But as older adults and somewhat compromised, we knew the risk of our becoming more sick was real.

We were also very leery about “long Covid” and all we do not know about the long term impact of Covid on the body. Especially those of us just a little older! We were already dealing with the slowdown that came with age. We definitely did not want to add any new ailment that impacted our quality of life more. And we never wanted to pass on an infection that could cause much great harm to others.

We got our two Covid shots as soon as they were available in Canada. But sadly, the decision to allow a third dose for those over 50 was not made quick enough. And even older people like us were still at the back of a long queue when we left for our Caribbean cruise. Even when we returned from our trip, we had several weeks to wait for our third shot. We know that many others on our cruise ship felt much more safe with a third shot recently administered.

So you might read this post and shake your head. Just remember that our risk tolerance may be far lower than yours. So we wore masks at all times and kept our distance during our trip. We booked outdoor excursions and avoided the packed buses. Even if the majority of others did not. We knew only we could protect ourselves.

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We Navigated The Covid Requirements Of Many Parties

Our cruise around the Caribbean islands was booked on very short notice. We felt that with a departure less than 2 weeks away, we understood the Covid requirements we faced for travel. And we believed we could manage the risk. When we published our Caribbean cruise planning blog post, a lot of the comments wished us “Good Luck”.

Our cruise company Oceania Cruises, implemented all of the best practices for Covid. We needed to be fully vaccinated and passed that first hurdle. Prior to boarding the ship, everyone got a Covid test at the dock.

If we tested positive for Covid, we would be denied boarding. But if we showed a negative PCR Covid test done 72 hours prior to boarding, we would be refunded the cost of the cancelled cruise. Without a test result that met this requirement, we received nothing back. This requirement drove our Covid test choices before travel.

To leave Canada and travel on a Canadian airline, we needed to be fully vaccinated. So that was not an issue.

To fly into the U.S. when we travelled required a Covid test within 72 hours of flying. The U.S. accepted a broad range of Covid tests. But since Oceania wanted the more invasive PCR Covid test, that is the test we wanted.

Since we needed the Covid test for discretionary travel, we had to locate and pay for the Covid test. Luckily we found several options for Covid tests and the pricing was all comparable. We finally chose a private lab that promised results by 10pm the day of the test.

We chose to do our PCR test the day before we flew – which was two days (48 hours) before we boarded our cruise. This meant that our PCR test results could be used to get our refund in the unlikely event we tested positive at the cruise dock.

With a bit of research and proper decisions, we planned to navigate the known Covid requirements. But we sure learned many unexpected lessons from our first International travel during the pandemic.

But Travel Requirements Changed Really Quickly

A mere 5 days before we boarded our flight, the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 made the news. This new variant was showing to be more transmissible and there were concerns that the vaccine would not work as well. But the virility of this variant was unknown. It definitely brought a new risk that seemed to change quickly.

Governments around the world moved quickly to slow the spread of Omicron. Within days flights were banned from some areas.

In Canada, we re-instituted mandatory testing on arrival by plane. And quarantine was required until the Covid test results were known. While arrivals from the U.S. were not included when we left Canada, we worried that U.S. would be added by the time we flew home from Miami.

The day we flew into Miami, the U.S. changed its Covid test requirements for all flights in – regardless of origin. Instead of the Covid test being done within 72 days of a flight, the new requirements meant testing needed to be done the day before the flight.

This new U.S. requirement was valid a few days after we flew. So we were not governed by it. Although we did our test just the day before the flight and met the Oceania rules.

Even with a very short travel planning window, what were well known requirements changed almost overnight. While there was little impact on our flight out, we knew that significantly higher requirements might hit us when we returned. And we knew that the lessons learned from our first International travel during the pandemic would not be the last the travelling world saw.

Checking In For Our Flight Was Stressful

We were excited when our Covid test results showed up by email and text by 7pm that same day. It meant we could do the online check in. Or so we thought!

Air Canada really could not have a pair of travellers that were more tech savvy than David and I. We knew the requirements to submit both a vaccination passport and a Covid test result with our check in. We had electronic versions of both documents.

So we were amazed when the online process could not “read” the electronic vaccination passports issued by our government. And we both ended up with a status of “Pending Review”.

When we tried to add our Covid test results, we got nowhere with the online process. They wanted an “Issued” time and there was no way to know what they wanted. When I called Air Canada they were so backlogged in calls they would not even put me on hold.

We finally tried to add the Covid test results using the iPhone App. Luckily the App remembered all the other data we entered so we didn’t start from scratch. When the App asked for the Covid test results, I was not able to use a bar code because our private lab was not supported. But I could take a picture. And that picture was accepted as was the data I entered. While it accepted the picture for both of us, very disappointingly, the status on this too went to “Pending Review”.

I was finally able to get to the last step for check-in. But the boarding pass did not print and the message said we needed to go to Customer Service at the airport. A chat session with Air Canada Twitter support assured me we would be emailed when the online submission was reviewed and approved.

In the morning, we checked our email and there was no Air Canada approval. We logged into our Air Canada account and there was still no boarding passes available. We could not believe the online process failed so badly. And we wondered how long the process would take at the airport. And if there was a real problem with our documents. Not a relaxing last night before our flight!

The Airport Check In Process Could Not Have Gone Better

We arrived at the airport the 3 hours before our flight as recommended – even for U.S. flights. A first stop at the automated kiosks was planned to see if our paperwork had finally been reviewed and we could print a boarding pass and luggage tag.

Luckily one of the attendants stepped up to help us. She checked our paperwork for both vaccine passports and Covid tests and claimed they were all perfect. She then helped us through the check-in process. Our luggage tags printed and my boarding pass printed. But somehow David’s would not print even on a second terminal.

Luckily our proactive attendant immediately went off and found a supervisor. And within minutes, we had David’s boarding pass. Nobody could explain why our online check-in failed.

Our excellent packing skills meant that our checked bags went through the automated process and were not flagged as over-weight.

Having Nexus passes was great when we travelled to the U.S. The expedited customs process to clear U.S. customs in Canada went quickly.

The biggest slowdown occurred when security pulled all of our bags out for a personal check. The challenge when we travelled with so much electronic gear in our carry on bags.

But in no time at all, we were seated in the Air Canada lounge. We started to understand some of the lessons from our first International travel during the pandemic.

Great Upgrades At The Air Canada U.S. Lounge

We were happy that our Air Canada status got us lounge access. There was a lot of space. Seating areas were spread out. And it looked like much of the lounge had a facelift. The bonus on the day we travelled was that the lounge was not very full.

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Empty Airline Lounges.jpg

We immediately saw the changes that Covid made in food service. Gone were open containers of buffet food. A good selection of lunch foods were packaged. The great chewy cookies were in individual bags. Drinks were still available as before.

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Airline Lounge Food Changes.jpg

When we sat down, we saw a bar code on the table that offered an expanded selection of foods that were delivered to our seat. We chose a hot entree and it arrived in minutes. It was not gourmet food but a nice break from cold sandwiches.

It appeared that eating and drinking was the most prevalent reason why people sat in the lounge with no mask. We ate quickly and put ours back on.

The lounge was a travel experience I was prepared to abandon on our travels. But this first trip caused me no concern.

Air Travel Without Capacity Constraints On First International Travel During The Pandemic

The day we flew was not a super busy travel day. We suspected that the recent news about Omicron and the changing Covid requirements may have caused some cancellations. Certainly we were upgraded 3 classes for our cruise cabin so we knew cancellations had rolled in.

The airport had signs saying masks and social distancing were both requirements. Generally as we walked around the airport we found this true. Although when we hit Miami, this was no longer true. In the baggage claim area in Miami people crowded the belt as they always had and many abandoned their masks.

When we got to our gate at the Toronto Pearson Airport, we saw that the old traditional rows of seating was replaced with tables and stations to order food. There was no spacing at all and few masks since there was a pretence of eating and drinking.

At the gate, the only way we got social distance while we waited was when we found an empty spot along a wall to stand. We were sure our level of discomfort would increase on a very busy flight day. We learned these lessons from our first International travel during the pandemic and knew we would not travel when the volumes got really high.

Canadian Airplane Rules Were Strict But Not When Unenforced

We pre-selected our airplane seats when we booked. The seat map seemed to suggest there was a lot of empty space on the plane. We thought we would find areas of empty seats if we felt we needed to move. So were were surprised when we found a very full plane. Not filled to capacity. But no empty rows at all.

Canadian law required masks onboard and the vast majority of people kept their mask on and their heads down. Most that wanted to eat or drink did it quickly and re-masked. But we were amazed at how many people still had no idea how to put the mask over their nose. Or pretended to eat and drink long as they could.

Everyone completed a Covid questionnaire before boarding that clearly asked about coughs. But the very tall guy behind me coughed loudly and wetly through most of the flight. Both he and his travel companion often took their masks off or left them below their noses.

My air vent was aimed back to direct air that way. My new personal air purifier sat beside me. And I stayed masked and hooded for the full 3 hour flight. I was not happy that this potential Covid vector was so close. At least I knew I would get a Covid test soon.

We were disappointed when we saw so little attention paid by Air Canada staff to the large number of people who openly challenged the masking requirement. Especially when our flight was delayed a long time and we were kept in such close contact for longer than we planned. But at least there was no violent confrontation on our flight about the rules.

Flying was now a very uncomfortable experience for us. One of the sad lessons from our first International travel during the pandemic.

Surviving Maskless Miami On First International Travel During The Pandemic

We would never fly into a departure port on the day our cruise departed. So we had to accept a night in Miami. Our cab ride was the first indication that we were in maskless Miami. The cab driver kept his mask on his chin. When we opened the windows to ensure we had some air flow, he closed them.

We found no mandatory masking required in indoor spaces. The hotel we stayed at “recommended” masks but there were not even limits on the elevators. We had an amazing stay in our upgraded room by the pool. And wished we maybe had booked a longer stay with such easy access to outdoors. But we might have wanted to hide at the hotel.

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We finally got our travelling SIM working by the time we checked out so we could call an Uber. We were not getting back in a cab in Miami. And I had no problem sharing the pic of me fully masked when I booked the Uber ride to the cruise terminal. We would definitely be using Uber for our trip to the airport on our return to Miami.

Miami provided a shocking view at how different the Covid requirements were outside of Canada. We were not really surprised. But some of the lessons from our first International travel during the pandemic reinforced our concerns.

Covid-19 Testing Required To Board Our Cruise Ship

As noted above, the first step we faced at the cruise terminal was a Covid-19 test. The line up was long and it took us about an hour to progress for our test. Many people worked no mask in line and had to be given a paper mask as they entered the testing area.

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We were surprised that so many people had either not done the pre-registration for their test bar code. Or had no idea where they saved it. Of course, we had both electronic and paper copies which ensured we moved quickly through the process.

We were delighted when the testing was done quickly and we soon had a negative Covid test that moved us to the normal cruise ship boarding process.

Cruising With Waning Covid-19 Requirements

Our first surprise came when we boarded the ship and virtually every passenger removed their masks. All staff kept theirs on at all times. And a small handful of passengers like us never gave up masks onboard unless seated in well-spaced places to eat.

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When we saw pictures of our ship cruising before it crossed the ocean to Miami, masking and social distancing were evident. But apparently as their season from Miami started, much more lax U.S. rules governed. And for anyone vaccinated, there was no mask or social distancing requirement. Even in the face of a new highly infectious Covid variant.

In all ports we found masking requirements. Yet too many of the passengers ignored the rules designed to keep the island residents safe. We were delighted that ports were open to us and we wanted to do our part to protect the locals

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Only the port of St Lucia limited those who could leave the ship to people with pre-booked formal tour excursions. And those people going on tour required a Covid test pre-tour.

The day prior to final departure from the ship, Covid testing was available. Testing was totally optional for everyone except passengers staying on the ship for the next trip. If your onward travel required a Covid test, the ship did the test for free. This meant we got the PCR test we needed to re-enter Canada.

But most of the ~95% of U.S. passengers needed no test to head home. For those, no Covid test was done unless the passengers chose to pay for it. Or they made some claim about needing it. Nobody would ever know how many people truly left the ship with Covid!

We really wish we found more stringent Covid requirements on the cruise ship. Maybe we just needed to be more choosy on where we cruised. Or picked a cruise line that tested everyone on every day. A disappointing lesson from our first International travel during the pandemic.

The Difference That 10 Days Made

During the 10 days we cruised in the Caribbean, the Omicron variant thrived. By the time we left the ship, the numbers were doubling every few days. But our trip home was much smoother than our incoming trip.

Even with really slow internet, our electronic processes to return to Canada worked much better this time. We actually submitted our documents to Air Canada and were issued boarding passes. And we completed the ArriveCan app and got our successful code.

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We grabbed an Uber from the cruise terminal and were delighted with the fully masked driver. When we arrived at the airport we had a few hours to wait. But we easily found a large empty area to wait before we checked in. We stayed masked up for our final wait in the airport lounge. Although the couple with their two dogs on their phones felt no such need!

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We were very happy when our return flight provided less worries. The plane was not full. There were multiple broadcasts about masking and adherence. And we saw more people being responsible with their masks. It appeared that the escalating Omicron variant shook some of the indifference of many people onboard.

Lucky for us, Canada imposed no new travel restrictions while we were away. We were not selected for random Covid testing at the airport. Although we did voluntarily limit our contacts once we got back. But just days after we returned, new restrictions were announced daily. It sure made us glad we were safely at home.

The increasing Omicron rates even brought changes to the cruise industry.  Many of the cruise lines including Oceania Cruises re-implemented masking mandates.  We knew that cruising with a mask did not really diminish the experience.  And were happy that crew and passengers would have more protection.

Timing is everything! One of the lessons from our first International travel during the pandemic that was reinforced for us.

Sharing Lessons From First International Travel During The Pandemic

We were glad we booked our Caribbean cruise in the near term window that opened for us. Even if requirements changed very quickly before we departed.

We thought we knew what to expect for various legs of our travels. But the lessons from our first International travel during the pandemic showed us that things were definitely not as stringent as we believed before we left home. And even with some rules in place, there seemed to be little enforcement.

We totally understood the hope that vaccination would let travel return to normal. But we just were not sure that the timing was right. Or right for our own level of risk tolerance.

We hope that some of our observations may help you to ask for more details as you get closer to your travels. And that things don’t change too radically in a short period of time to make you wish you had made other travel decisions.

Have you learned lessons from your first International travel during the pandemic? Will those lessons keep you at home?

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  1. Well done for venturing forth! I am so sorry that your first international travel was stressful. I live in England and have recently been to France and Italy, where restrictions are greater than those in England. I felt very comfortable in both countries. It’s impossible to get into a cafe/restaurant/museum without a vaccination pass of some kind. The admin and test requirements were OK and everything worked smoothly. One trip was on Eurostar, the other with British Airways. Masks were required. The Italian government requires everyone flying in to were a surgical/medical grade mask, so we bought a pack, but those without we given one by BA cabin staff. I’m hoping to be in Rome in February; Italy is currently ‘open’ to travellers from the UK, although France and Germany are not. I hope 2022 will be less stressful for us all. Happy New Year

    • Always interesting to read personal accounts of travel in other areas. We really wish we had a base in Europe to explore more. It seems every time we are ready to had across the pond, something new pops up. I too hope 2022 will settle down once this current surge passes.

  2. Its always interesting to read other travellers Covid views and I have to say everyone has different reasons and opinions about travelling during Covid. I didn’t travel again until Nov 21 and even while I was away ( only for 3 nights to Poland) the UK travel restrictions changed on me literally in mid flight!! While I was building up the confidence to travel again the UK is suffering badly again and so travel will once again be put on the back burner for now.

    • It was great that we could travel within Canada for much of the year. We too waited a long time before we headed out internationally and had the same experience with quickly changing requirements. I am sad to see how the UK is suffering right now. We can only hope that the rest of the world learns a bit of a lesson and reacts more quickly.

  3. Our next flight will be domestic. Even so, Thanks for the rundown of all your Covid-driven experiences. Forewarned is forearmed. (Although not necessarily adequately enough as you have pointed out.)

  4. There are so many requirements or preparations, in my opinions. I don’t think I will do it for a leisure trip. And even before Covid, I didn’t like it when someone coughed near me. Sorry to hear your experience with the guy behind you in the plane.

    • It was touch enough for us to figure out requirements to travel across Canada. But we thought we were ready for international travel. But things have sure gotten crazy in the past weeks since we got back.

  5. Good information. It makes me super uncomfortable to know there is not required testing when returning to US on a cruise ship. I returned to US from Mexico all-inclusive hotel 2 days ago. Although the hotel stated a mask policy, very few wore one. Only one of the 5 restaurants had table service and the buffets had common serving utensils. The hotel did free tests that US required to enter and American uses the VeriFly app so I had no problems at the airport. People who did not register with VeriFly had very long lines to wait in before allowed through security. Also, I flew American and the three people closest to me took their masks off, staff walked by and said nothing.

    • It is always interesting to read about other’s experience traveling during the pandemic. We too were quite amazed that not everyone got tested to leave the cruise ship. But we were happy we wore our mask and kept ourselves safe on all of our travel this year.

  6. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could just get past covid and get back to traveling the world? Fingers crossed for 2022. Looks as though you took all of the necessary precautions.

  7. You must have had a I don’t know how you could have survived your first international trip. I’m sure it was a lot to take in, but hopefully this will be the last crazy experience of travels for you.

  8. Thanks for sharing your story. I laughed a bit at your “maskless Miami” as we live in our fairly maskless place ourselves–present company excluded:) We traveled to Italy in October and so appreciated the serious approach everyone took towards the virus. We were consistently asked to show our vaccine cards, and even inside with everyone vaccinated, masks were worn. It definitely was the safest I have felt since the pandemic began.

    • As Canadians, we are used to more precautions and restrictions. So travelling is always an interesting view on how things are different. Europe is on our list to visit when things settle down because even though they get high numbers, they seem intent on working to reduce the numbers. We sure wish we were in Italy in October. Glad you had a great trip.

  9. I am mostly doing armchair travelling since 2020! But maskless is a risk for sure. We don’t step out without a mask and take it off only while eating. So, we see a lot of maskless people during our road trips within the country. Am glad you are safe and had a good trip, despite some hiccups.

    • Travel has definitely been a challenge since 2020. We are happy we have been able to do some travel but we have not abandoned any precautions when we have travelled. It was definitely great that we sneaked this last trip in before things got really crazy.

  10. These tips and your sharing your experience is incredibly helpful at this time. I just returned from an international travel and the rules changed a day before I left and while I was away, so you’re right travelling during a pandemic is a level of risk and to be prepared for evolving circumstances. Being prepared with documents is key.

  11. It is interesting to read your experience on taking the first international flight during the pandemic. We took our first trip to UK in October and apart from the irritant of PCR tests and passenger locator form, it was smooth sailing. However, when we returned in December, the travel rules had changed and more forms were mandatory. PCR tests were done at the landing airport and we had to wait until results arrived for a few hours especially since Omicron scare had just started then. I can understand how uncomfortable it must have been for you with the unmasked and coughing passenger behind you. Looks like we have to go through another few months of this new Omicron issue now.

    • It was interesting to read how much requirements changed from trip to trip. A good reminder that we constantly need to be reviewing the new rules. There were many uncomfortable moments on our trip but we were glad we managed to stay safe and healthy in spite of them. We will continue to dodge this new challenge.

  12. Very informative post. I have been watching Rick Steves, and he was talking about what was different now when traveling in Europe. There is a lot of things people wouldn’t be aware of without someone sharing their personal experience.

  13. This hit home! While reading your post, I was reminiscing my travel to Georgia middle of this year. I didn’t realize how big of a change it was until I was actually in the thick of things. But despite all that’s going on, I will still have the resilience to travel!

    • Travelling on this trip reminded me about how we need to continue to manage our own risk. Everyone is coming from a different perspective and their view is very likely to be different from you. A good way to approach travel.

  14. This is really helpful in managing our expectations. We haven’t really traveled again and not sure how is it going to be when traveling abroad. Thank you for sharing your experiences and the lessons. I guess we’re going to skip “maskless destinations” for now as I am not yet ready to take the risk despite being fully vaccinated.

  15. We traveled around Europe by car and for us it was the other way around, the countries we visited had more restrictions than our home country. We kept ourselves to those rules, but it was strange returning to our (at that moment) maskless country. Sorry, you had a guy coughing behind you. I know they also aks if you have a ‘cold’ at all those forms. Since I have some sort of allergy I always am a bit sneezy, and hate it when people look at you when you need to sneeze or blow your nose. Allergies also still exist.

    • I too have allergies and am always worried about how that might look when we travel. But I am still ensuring I do it well inside my mask. With restrictions pretty strict at home in Ontario we too found variations when we travelled across Canada. Variations and changes in requirements will continue to be in place for some time.

  16. I was looking for such article to know about fly during Pandemic and your’s is perfect. From India I tried to fly but was hell scared to take International Flight. Right now I am planning for Spain, thanks for all the information , will curate my plan accordingly.

    • I am glad that my post added some questions people should consider before travelling. We thought that the rules would be enforced in some areas and quickly found that not to be the case. We travelled just as the new variant started to show so I am sure that also increased the number of changes we saw.

  17. This was super interesting! I am travelling to the US in just under two weeks so it was good to read about your experience. I’ve been on a few flights now since the pandemic and I have to say the first couple were great as I had loads of space to myself, but the next time we travelled we were packed away like sardines once again!

    • I must admit our flying experience was different on the two flights. But the first flight had us wanting to run off screaming! I am sure each one is a bit different. Some good lessons for us when we plan our next trip.

  18. I appreciate and admire your tenacity to push forward and travel internationally, not just abroad but to do another cruise. These are all interesting lessons learned, some surprising and others sadly not. I’ve still not travelled internationally yet, I’m fine on the backroads of Ontario for now lol

    • We really enjoyed our Canada travels these past years but were itching to be back on the water. We were so glad we went when we did but there were definitely some interesting lessons learned.

  19. Very informative post! We, like everyone else, had to change the way we traveled during the pandemic. We have yet to travel internationally since, but are hoping to change that in 2022. Thanks for sharing!

  20. We traveled to Mexico from the US in September. I was nervous about the covid test required to come home, but luckily, we were negative. Passengers on the plane were masked, and the resort we stayed at had protocols in place that made us feel comfortable. There was plenty of room to social distance. My biggeset concern now is the delayed or cancelled flights. We were delayed for 5 hours coming home from Mexico. At least we were not delayed on our way there.

    • I am glad to hear that your Mexico visit worked out well. Things have gotten a little messier with the new variant since we came home. But a good reminder to plan for the unexpected.

  21. I really enjoy reading about other travelers experiences with international trips. We managed to get into Australia after a long and difficult journey and we also met a lot of people who just live like covid doesn’t exist. I am glad to hear there are people following the rules and caring about others! Thank you for sharing your experience!

    • I am always surprised when we run into people who live like the pandemic is over. We too are happy when we find people who want to follow the rules and protect themselves and others.

  22. I really appreciate this post. We are signed up to travel to Costa Rica at the end of the month and are very apprehensive about how quickly the rules are changing. We, like you, will be very careful and stay masked but it’s worrisome how so many didn’t. We have flown internally in the US (from Boston) and everyone followed the masking rules.

    • I am hoping that there may be a bit more caution now than when we went just as the new variant was being announced. But even with the high rates here in Canada and stronger requirements, we are seeing lots of people just too tired of restrictions to care. I hope you have a great time in Costa Rica. We certainly have had no trouble having lots of fun fully masked!

  23. Sorry you were so stressed about the Covid situation and masking. I travel by RV and did my first domestic trip since 2019 this past Oct-Nov. I don’t think I would plan an international trip with restrictions constantly changing. I delayed my trip until late this year just because so many placed were closed. Oh, for the day things return to something resembling normal!

    • In retrospect, we were so glad we travelled when we did because things got so much riskier just as we came home. Road trips were much easier to manage. And I am sure an RV made things even a bit safer. I sure hope 2022 looks better!

  24. This was really interesting to read. I had similar experiences when travelling abroad. I flew Air Canada from London to Vancouver and the airline was so good at providing sanitary products and I constantly heard the crew remind people to put their masks back on. My mum wants to go on a cruise next year, so I have sent her your blog to read. I think she will enjoy it, too.

    • I am getting such an interesting mix of feedback on people’s travel experiences. The unpredictability stands out. We have a lot of cruise travel blog posts so I hope your mom finds something of interest.

  25. I’m glad you were still able to take your vacation! I get so nervous planning trips now, like you mentioned it’s hard to anticipate how things will actually turn out when rules are “in place” but not really enforced, or your final destination is somewhere that isn’t as covid-conscious as where you’re flying from. I’m glad you had a good time!

    • We were really happy we got our cruise in despite some uncomfortable experiences along the way. It felt great to be back at sea …. and warm! At home we often wonder about the stronger requirements. But when I see the exact opposite, I am happy to get back home.

  26. Thank you for sharing your story. I totally agree, travel is definitely more stressful than it used to be. I remember when I visited my family in Hungary a few months ago I decided to fly into a neighbouring country then take a train, because the rules were all over the place and changed quicker than the direction of the wind. I’m glad you managed to enjoy the cruise at the end.

    • Travel these days is certainly testing our planning and adaptability skills. Just when you think you have it figured out, something changes. We were happy we got to go on our cruise and really enjoyed the time away. Probably glad I did not know how stressful some parts would be before we committed to go.

  27. Wow it’s amazing (and so sad) how much Covid has changed everything. I’m glad you were able to have everything in place to get on your cruise! That would have been sad to not have qualified after all that!

    • We too were very glad it all worked out for just go get on and enjoy our cruise. A few weeks later and things might have been very different. Timing is everything and this pandemic has taught us to grab the opportunities when they come.

  28. I got stuck in Russia during the first stages of the pandemic and even after i managed to get out, things have been truly crazy. I’ve somehow navigated 13 countries this year, but all in my own van so I basically socialise with nobody mask-free and not having to go on crowded planes has been a blessing. I’d have been so stressed with all those mask free people on the cruise. I’m very happy that you managed to get your international trip despite all the dramas though – it does help make you feel that life might return to something a little more “normal” one day.

    • I am sure travelling by van has helped you to move around more safely and let you visit 13 countries. The drama was a bit of an eye opener that things may be very different from home. But we were glad we got out trip in before the new variant stalled travel again.

  29. Wow this is too good about for me lessons from first international travel during the pandemic thanks sharing this article

  30. I’m so glad you got to travel recently!! Life is way too short to not to. I’ve been traveling to countries that don’t have many restrictions, so I haven’t had to deal with too much hassle. I like visiting places with less rules than my own city of DC haha.

  31. You put a lot of thought into this subject matter.. I like your methodical approach and the idea of erring on the safe side, being conservative. I haven’t really thought much about Covid travel yet I just want it all to be back to normal and quick haha…

    • This post almost wrote itself as we travelled. As David held himself from running from the first plane trip, we knew we wanted to share some of our experiences. Each trip is different for everyone. Just hope we maybe shed some light on things that may not be as advertised as travel begins again. And we learned again how quickly things changed! I am not sure what the new normal may be. All I know is that travel requires much more work and resilience than before.

  32. Not surprised things were so lax in Miami, since that state’s leadership has done such a horrible job of managing covid. Pretty much everywhere in the US, it’s lax. We live in Colombia, where the situation is a lot different, and every time we travel home it’s a big shock to see how little mask-wearing and distancing are being done. Even now, with Omicron.

    Anyway, stay safe and be well!

    • It is always a bit of surprise when we leave Toronto and see how different other parts of the country are. And then we hit a place like Miami with no apparent restrictions. It did not lesson our own personal protection. But it sure made me feel less safe. We have been really careful during the pandemic and have managed to still have a great time. And still remain fully masked!

  33. This is such a great post and so helpful! I am yet to use my passport since Covid started but have a few international trips booked for this year – hopefully I can go on them all and safely avoid Covid!

    • I hope your 2022 international trips go well. We had a few surprises and sadly some disappointments we expected. But we were happy we kept ourselves safe despite those!

  34. Yes, this is a very informative post. This is a good lesson for me international travel during the pandemic thanks for sharing this article.

    • There was indeed much to learn on our first international travel in a long time. We hope to head out again in 2022 and now know some things to be better prepared for.

  35. We also left on Dec.29 for Mazatlan, Mexico just when the cases of the Omicron variant were surging. We had our booster shot in September though. So we feel safe here, where we are staying til April 9 because people are following strict protocols. But our first international trip was in August to Canada and loved that Canada had strict entry requirements at the time and felt safe. Our lessons? be fully vaccinated, follow protocols, and drive instead of fly.

    • Good lessons learned on your travels during the pandemic. Our big road trip last year was good because we too were driving. Flying for our cruise added an extra element of risk.

  36. Great post and extremely informative. Traveling during the pandemic can be quite stressful for sure especially with the continuously changing requirements. Great article and happy for you that you travelled internationally recently as well.

    • We certainly learned a lot on our first international trip during the pandemic. It helped us as we planned our coming spring trip to Europe. But we know to keep checking since things change so fast these days!

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