Traveling in the Covid-19 pandemic – 10 steps to a peaceful vacation (part II)

The first quarter of each year is the time when we deal with our New Year’s resolutions. Many of them concern traveling, and since the winter weather in Poland can be very capricious, some people dream of snow-covered alpine slopes at this time, others want to soak up the atmosphere of foreign metropolises, yet another see themselves under a palm tree on a hot, paradise beach. Regardless of whether you choose to explore the world on your own or decide to buy an organized trip at a travel agency, before going on a holiday abroad, it is worth getting acquainted with some rules that will allow you to prepare well for the trip and reduce unnecessary stress associated with traveling during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the second part of the article, you will read about the types of Covid-19 tests and their validity, as well as additional requirements related to traveling and returning from abroad. We also invite you to read the first part of the article, available here. Please keep in mind that this article is about the Polish reality, which does not mean, however, that it does not provide you with some universal information about traveling during the Covid-19 pandemic.


6. How to get tested properly

Most of us know very well that there are two basic types of tests for detecting coronavirus infection: the cheaper but less accurate antigen test and the more expensive but much more precise PCR test. We also know that when in doubt about the choice of test, it is always better to perform a widely recognized PCR test. Unfortunately, in the case of travel, this knowledge may not be sufficient. Due to emerging cases of counterfeiting or altering the results of PCR tests, in order to be sure that the test is authentic, some countries have introduced the requirement to present the results of RT-PCR tests with a QR code. Therefore, if you are going to a country that has adopted such a requirement, when choosing a laboratory in which you want to perform the test, you should pay attention to whether it includes a QR code on the result. Ideally, the QR code should refer to the test result, while in practice it usually refers to the main page of the laboratory’s website. Once in the laboratory, even if you are shaking at the thought of taking a sample from your nasopharynx, think carefully before deciding on a saliva PCR test. Upon entering your travel destination, you may encounter an unpleasant surprise and your test will not be accepted. When choosing to have a swab, remember to take the identity document that you want to use when traveling – if you are going outside the Schengen area, it will always be your passport.


7. When “the math doesn’t add up”, i.e., when to take the test

There is no international agreement between countries on the validity of the tests. Most often, the validity of the test is 48, 72 or 96 hours from the time the sample was taken (not from testing the sample in the laboratory). Often the validity of the collected sample also depends on how long your flight is. Some countries will count the validity of the test from the time of the scheduled departure of the aircraft and others from the time of the scheduled arrival at the final destination. With longer flights, this can make a huge difference. Take also into account that sometimes, 72 hours in reality is only 69 or less hours. For example, if the country of your destination limits the validity of the tests to 72 hours before arrival, the time difference in the country to which we are going is 3 hours ahead, the arrival is planned for Friday at 10:00 AM local time, then the test should not be taken earlier than on Tuesday at 10:00 AM Polish time, so not 72, but 69 hours before arrival. If the test is performed at 7:00 AM Polish time (10:00 AM in the destination country), it is very likely that the airlines will refuse to accept you on the plane.


8. Vaccination and testing may not be enough

In addition to such requirements as having a proof of vaccination against Covid-19 and a coronavirus test, most countries will require you to present completed entry forms, and most often also the QR codes generated on their basis. Usually, this form must be completed an appropriate number of hours before departure or arrival. Do not leave it to the last minute, because in the event that you do not meet the set time limit, or there are technical problems with the approval of the form or obtaining a QR code, you risk spending your dream vacation at home. Check whether the airlines require you to fill out additional documents. Some countries also require newcomers to have Covid-19 insurance throughout their whole stay. Regardless of whether you are flying to a place where it is mandatory, remember that in the case of falling ill with Covid-19, but also any other disease, treatment abroad can be very expensive. Check if the insurance protects you in the event of a positive test result before the departure. Take a closer look at whether the scope of insurance also includes quarantine after contact with an infected person. Although, for example, the Maldives are beautiful, the need to spend an additional dozen or so days in isolation or quarantine, at your own expense, can give you a strong headache.


9. Return from vacation

Before returning to Poland, remember to fill in the Traveler Location Card. Check if you are required to perform the test before crossing the Polish border. The tests can now be performed at airports but may involve spending up to several hours in the queue. Hotels or travel agencies often offer the possibility of taking a test before flying to Poland, however, if you have doubts as to the quality of the test results, consider whether it is worth risking isolation in the country of your trip. Some airlines offering flights to Poland require providing an antigen or a RT-PCR testes before the flight – in such a situation, you will not avoid taking a test abroad.


10. Travel & savoir vivre

Regardless of where you go, you should remember about the so-called travel savoir-vivre. Traveling during a pandemic should be treated as learning about new cultures – we don’t have to agree to the purposefulness of all the rules, but we  should treat each other with respect. If you prepare yourself well for the trip, there is a good chance that you will accept all the orders and restrictions with peace, and they will not spoil your holiday.


We also invite you to read the first part of the article, from which you will learn, among others, what to consider when choosing a destination during a pandemic, when and where to verify information and how to get an appropriate vaccination certificate.


If you use organized forms of travel, the travel agency has certain obligations to inform you about the rules related to travelling and to ensure the conditions of travel and accommodation in accordance with your booking. If you believe that your travel agency has not provided you with comprehensive information, was misleading or the standard did not correspond to the offer, you can submit a complaint. The first actions related to the complaint should be taken already during the vacation. If you need legal advice related to your trip, including submitting a complaint to a travel agency and taking further actions, please contact the Law Firm via the contact form available here.


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