How does foreign travel work in 2022?

Do you remember international travel?

There’s the anticipation of waiting in lines at the airport, the joy of an outdoor choccie, the intense sport trying to stay awake in a new time zone.

But these days there’s more than jet lag to consider when traveling abroad – so what can you expect from a trip in 2022?

For ABC Everyday’s Travel Q&A, I spoke with Claudia Lavakula, who recently traveled with her sister to Fiji.

The couple, both from Kalkallo north of Melbourne, left on New Years Eve and returned ten days later. Claudia shared what it’s like to travel overseas during a global pandemic.

What should I do before leaving?

We had to make sure we had our travel insurance, vaccination certificate, itinerary, accommodation and car rental. We took hard copies of everything.

There were probably two or three more steps we needed to take this time around. [compared to pre-COVID travel]like COVID testing and making sure we had the right paperwork, but it wasn’t too bad.

Fiji left Claudia eager to travel.(Provided)

How did the COVID tests work?

We had to book our PCR tests within three days of leaving Melbourne, or the same day.

We chose to do it on the day of departure because it was cheaper so it was at Melbourne airport and it took 90 minutes for the results to come in. I think it was $70 or $80.

Then when we got to Fiji, we had to tell them when we were leaving so they could arrange our departure test there, which was also three days before we left.

Our hotel had the nurses come right to your room to do the swab, so it was pretty quick and easy. This test cost $150 or $200.

How did vaccination certificates work?

When we arrived in Fiji, the person at the counter asked us about our international COVID certificate.

We didn’t know anything about it. When we were researching we didn’t see anything about it, but they still let us through [with our Australian certificate].

But I think next time we’d take it, just to be on the safe side.

Did you have any problems?

When we went it was hurricane season and we got stuck there for another day. A cyclone arrived on Friday and lasted three days, so we had to rebook our flight.

Then, because our flight was delayed, our departure PCR test results fell just outside the applicable hours. [The Fijian officials] weren’t sure but luckily there was a guy from the Australian Embassy there and he said everything was fine so we could go home.

Was it more expensive than usual?

In fact, I think it was pretty cheap. The flights were just over $500 round trip each, and the accommodations were pretty standard as well. I expected it to be more expensive, but it was also a good exchange rate.

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Stretch your 7kg of hand luggage with these tips(ABC Everyday: Matt Garrow)

What did your travel insurance cover?

In case one of us had COVID they covered about $2000 per person which would cover our [isolation] accommodation.

Our insurance would have covered us if we had to go to the hospital for COVID too.

For just over 10 days it was about $160 for the two of us, so $80 each.

Have other travelers you’ve met had any issues?

When we arrived from Australia at the airport in Fiji, we went to the toilets and there was this girl, I think she was from Europe, and she had just found out that her hotel was not a hotel CFCs.

So to come here you need to book accommodation in one of their CFC hotels which are recognized as COVID safe.

But she had booked somewhere else, so she was hiding in the bathroom trying to figure out what to do before going through customs.

Was the hassle of extra COVID precautions worth it?

Oh definitely. I came back and am now infected with the travel virus. I can not stop.

I want to go to Europe next. I’ve looked at travel sites for all the documents we need, and I think it’s kind of the same.

But we want to stop in quite a few different countries, all of which will have different requirements. So I think we’ll go through a travel agency to help us organize it.

Do you have any advice for other travellers?

Do your research on the country and the culture.

Keep your eyes and ears on the news, both local news and what’s happening back home.

We weren’t too sure when we saw all the cases going up in Sydney and Melbourne if they were going to close the borders and we would have 24 hours to get home or something.

So do your research and be prepared.

Foreign travel restrictions and experiences will differ depending on the country and the length of your trip. For up-to-date information, visit SmartTraveller.

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