Your Overseas Covid-19 Checklist for Healthy Travel

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BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

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It happened. I got Covid-19 and had to be quarantined in a foreign country. Yep.  Thankfully that country was France and since I’m vaccinated and boosted I had mild symptoms but it was a bummer nonetheless. If you’re thinking of traveling and scared about what might happen if you get sick – don’t be afraid, just be prepared.

If you know me, you know I love to travel and you know I love Paris in particular.  I’ve been fortunate to visit many times so when my husband Jay and I couldn’t go during the pandemic I had a serious case of travel withdrawal. I dreamed about the day I could be back with the fat pigeons drinking real Champagne and eating macarons from Pierre Hermes. It had been 3 years, 1 month and 14 days since my last time in the City of Lights.

After two years of being so careful it hurt, Jay and I ventured back into the world and caught Covid-19. Yep. And we got stuck in Paris. Ok fine there are worse places to be quarantined but still, it was not easy. Plus, I lost my sense of taste and smell so my dreams of enjoying all my favorite French delicacies flew out the window.

However, I have to say that my love of lists kept me sane and healthy during this ordeal. So I figured why not share what I learned in a Healthy Travel Checklist. Here goes…

BEFORE YOUR TRIP:

  • Have Up-To-Date Doctor’s Visits: This is important no matter what but especially if you’re going to be traveling. That’s because many doctors want to have seen you within the last year (at least) to be able to prescribe medications and help you if you need certain documentation. Plus, you want to be sure you’re in tip-top shape before you head out.
  • Start Taking Immunity-Boosting Supplements: I always start taking probiotics about two weeks before I travel anywhere – even domestically. Since I have food sensitivities (gluten and dairy) any changes in my diet can irritate my stomach. So I’m proactive about it and get going with my probiotics but they also help to support your immune system. There are other vitamins that will do this too like zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D. You should check with your doctor first before taking any supplements.
  • Essentials For Your Packing List: I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, creating a packing list is a must if you want to be organized and make sure you have everything you need for a healthy trip. For more, check out my list of seven things to pack in your carry-on.

Here’s a few of the items that were life savers for me:

    • Carryon Items: Pack your medicine, vitamins, and snacks that you can eat anywhere in your carryon bag. This is essential if you have food allergies but helps no matter what to have some snacks on hand. Throw in a few plastic utensils too. Shannon H, a regular reader of this blog, wrote to me that she is stuck in Florence with Covid-19 on a work trip and is having the hardest time getting utensils! So there you have it – pack a few.
      • I got an amazing Black Friday deal on this Tumi backpack and I can’t recommend it enough. There are lots of compartments and all my essentials were within reach. Jay also got me a Bandelier crossbody iPhone holder and it’s my new favorite travel accessory. I knew where my phone was at all times and it made it easy to wear and grab at the airport and plane.
      • Also make sure to pack an eye mask in your carryon. Some airlines will provide them for you but I always like to have my own. If you’re not feeling well and need to get some shut-eye then this could be the ticket to shutting out the world and getting much-needed rest.
    • Reusable cloth bag: Since there are now bans on plastic bags in a lot of states and countries it helps to have your own bag to-go at the grocery store. It’s a simple thing to slip into your luggage that you’ll use again and again. Plus it can double as a laundry bag!
    • Resealable plastic baggies: I know it’s not great for the environment but having resealable bags was helpful for me as I was staying in AirBnBs and needed to save food. Plus, it was a great place to keep all my travel receipts together. Packing list – medicines, vitamins, extra plastic baggies, bag for groceries, snacks you like if you have limited options (gluten free).
    • Packing Cubes: I can’t stress enough how amazingly wonderful these are when you’re traveling. You can keep all your medications and first aid items together in one cube and your clothes in the others. This is helpful if you’re moving from spot to spot and will help you stay organized and find everything you need quickly. I pack layers and roll all my clothes to keep them wrinkle free. These are the ones I use.
    • Creature Comforts: They may take up space but you’ll be so happy you have them if you need to extend your stay or are feeling under the weather. I brought my robe and my favorite slippers and I’m so glad I had them with me. They made me feel more at home and comfortable.
    • Covid-19 Test Kits: You might not think you’ll need them but trust me, you’ll be so glad you have them on hand.
    • Nasal Rinse: I know, this sounds crazy. Why would you lug a Neti pot halfway around the world? Listen, it’s a good move, trust me. Whether it’s a neti pot or a Neil Med you’ll be happy you have this rinse with you. It can help with allergies as it gently flushes inhaled particles out of your nose. According to UCLA Health using one may help to prevent Covid-19 as well. There’s no guarantee of course but it’s a healthy and safe thing to try.
    • Bring Your Laptop: I’m always preaching to give yourself a break from work and set boundaries (check out my LinkedIn Learning course on it here) but it’s important to have knowledge at your fingertips quickly. I left my computer home because I wanted to give myself a break and I was kicking myself. I had my iPad and my iPhone with me and they are fine but not when you’re trying to find information quickly. This doesn’t mean you have to use the laptop on vacation but it’s good to have it if you do find yourself stuck for longer and needing vital information. Plus if you feel well enough to work remotely you can do that too.
  • Get Travel Insurance: This always feels like kind of a wasted expense but believe me it is not. Budget this into any trip you take and you won’t be as stressed if things go wrong. I always add travel insurance on every flight that I take and I’m so happy I did it this time around too. The earlier you add it the better so you can take full advantage of the benefits if needed.
  • Get a Passport and Vaccination Card Holder: These are the two most used documents you’ll need on your trip post Covid-19 pandemic, why not keep them together? I bought these cheap ones and they worked perfectly and made travel so much easier.
  • Check Your Destination’s Covid-19 Rules: Every country has different rules and they are changing constantly. I did a bit of homework before flying to France so I was familiar with what might happen. I suggest you do the same thing because if you test positive you might not be feeling up to finding this information in the moment. Do yourself a favor and take a look beforehand.
  • Keep a Must-Binge List: This is a fun list to keep no matter where you are but it’s especially helpful if you are in quarantine. We watched the last season of Ozark and Ted Lasso as we were waiting out our isolation. Add books, movies, and podcasts to your list!
  • Keep a List of Food-Delivery Apps: Living in New York City has spoiled me for delivery anywhere else. No where else does it quite as good but cities around the world are now open to it since they had no choice during the pandemic. Use this to your advantage if you get sick and order takeout. Most of these services will do contactless delivery and it’s worth checking them out in advance, since each city has its own batch of apps. Same goes for car services.

DURING YOUR TRIP:

  • Get Tested Immediately: If you start to feel symptoms or someone in your party does get tested immediately. At home tests are terrific but they don’t count if you need documentation for health insurance or travel insurance reasons. Make sure to get tested at a location that will certify your results so you have proof right away. This matters also for quarantine and isolation times. It all starts from the date of your first official positive test.
  • List of Trip Change To-Dos: When plans change it can be overwhelming. As soon as we tested positive for Covid-19 we had to extend our travel arrangements and make a lot of personal and professional notifications. The first thing I did was make a list. I split this list into several sections: travel, health, home and work. Each section had its own list of to-dos and writing them down made everything much more do-able. I was able to go through each section systematically and get things done efficiently.
  • List of Symptoms: Keep a handwritten or digital list of all your symptoms each day. It can be easy to have days mush together and hard to keep track of how you felt when. This is helpful if you need to see a doctor and to measure your progress.
  • List of Expenses for Travel Insurance: I called the insurance company as soon as we knew we would need to extend our trip to find out what I needed to do. They suggested I keep track of all my additional expenses, keep my receipts and file the claim as soon as I got home. I was very systematic about this to make it easy on myself. I got out my resealable plastic bag and each day I added receipts to it and noted what they were for on the back of the paper. You think you will remember but you won’t so it’s good to take notes. I also set up a folder in Google Drive and within that folder created folders with every date we were detained. Each day I would use the Scannable app and scan any receipts into those folders. I had my assistant make a spreadsheet of these expenses so when I came home everything was laid out and easy to submit my expenses to the insurance company. You might think just sticking your receipts in a bag for later will be good enough but your future self will thank you for taking this extra step.
  • Connect With Your Doctor: You may have questions or want to ask your doctor about your symptoms and that’s why being up-to-date with your visits is so important. Most doctors will meet with you virtually or answer your questions via email. Also – for some people who need help getting a letter of recovery to be able to fly again I found a resource that I want to share. It’s called QuickMD and I’ve heard anecdotally that people have used it to get a letter and be able to travel if they’re stuck. Of course you should do your own research but this could be a good option in a pinch.
  • Ask For Help: If you do test positive for Covid-19 or any other illness, chances are your friends and family will say, “let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” Jump on this if they do! Ask them to help you do research or anything else you need help with. My college roommate and friend of more than 20 years Sharon was such a help to me when I was overwhelmed! You need to ask for help to lighten the load.

I also enlisted the help of my own virtual assistant and a digital service that I’ve been testing out called Stuff, which matches you with an assistant in the United States to help with any task.

You never know where your travels will bring you, or keep you so it pays to be prepared and healthy!

Happy and healthy traveling!

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may get a small compensation if you purchase. I only use these links for products I truly enjoy and recommend.

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BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

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