As far as shitty years go…2020 pretty much tops the charts. With a global pandemic, Coronavirus travel restrictions, murder hornets, devastating wildfires and nationwide toilet paper shortages, 2020 isn’t a year that most of us can easily forget. Unfortunately, 2021 isn’t showing much improvement with an attack on the The White House six days into January…Keep reading to learn how I moved abroad safely during the Coronavirus pandemic!
The travel community has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Many of us who are used to jetting off to all corners of the globe, whether it be for work or to satisfy our wanderlust, have been forced to give up our greatest passion (and source of income) in exchange for Netflix and Zoom calls at home in our sweatpants. I strongly believe these sacrifices were necessary for the wellbeing of our society. However, after a year of global quarantine and much more available information surrounding the spreading of the virus, I’m convinced there are ways to travel safely during the pandemic.
So what did I do after this realization? I packed my bags, bought a flight and moved to Roatán, Honduras.
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How I Moved Abroad Safely During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Choosing Your Destination
When traveling during the pandemic, there are a lot of factors to consider. You have to plan strategically considering Coronavirus travel restrictions not only where you’re going, but where you’re coming from (even down to the state). You even have to take into account other countries you have visited recently.
Make sure to do extensive research on the travel restrictions to the country you want to visit. You’ll also want to research restrictions for returning to your home country. For example, Trump was still in office when we left the U.S. No negative COVID-19 test was required to re-enter the United States at this time. Since we’ve been in Honduras, Biden implemented a 10-day quarantine for international travelers as well as requiring a negative COVID-19 test for re-entry (seriously how was this not a requirement before?).
A great resource for Coronavirus travel restrictions is the CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination. However, I always recommend consulting more than one source when deciding on the best destination. In the weeks leading up to your trip, make sure to continue checking entry requirements as rules and regulations are constantly changing.
Buy Hella Travel insurance
Immediately after choosing your destination and before booking any flights or accommodations, do yourself a favor and BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE. Travel has never been less predictable and there’s a very high chance some part of your plans may get cancelled or rescheduled. In the event that it happens, it’s always better to be prepared and protect yourself.
I always book travel insurance with World Nomads before traveling to a new country (or anywhere during this pandemic). I’ve never had any trouble getting reimbursed from them and their customer service is quick and easy.
Additionally, World Nomads is guaranteed to cover you in the event that you were to get COVID-19 before your trip and be unable to travel. In today’s world, this is a great guarantee to have. It can take weeks or even months to produce a negative test after contracting the virus. (Keep in mind that World Nomads does not cover you in the event that your destination country stops allowing travelers from your home country).
Make an Appointment at Your Travel Clinic
When visiting a new country, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re up to date on all required and recommended vaccinations (even during non-pandemic times). It’s especially important during a pandemic because most countries require a negative COVID-19 test upon entry. (Even if they don’t require it, you should absolutely get one to ensure you’re not spreading the virus internationally).
The tricky part about this requirement is the test needs to be administered within 72 hours of you arriving in the new country, but many testing sites can take up to seven days to return test results. I spent a lot of time stressing about this requirement and how I was going to time my test results perfectly before my flight left. After meeting with the travel clinic (originally to get malaria pills), my doctor assured me she could order a test and return the results to me within 48 hours. I received them in only six hours and was able pass through Honduran customs quickly and easily.
Working in Paradise
There has never been a time in history with more remote workers or virtual companies. Many companies are allowing employees to work remotely for months as long as they have a strong wifi connection.
However, there are important factors to keep in mind when working from another country.
- Timezone. Are you able to work the same hours as you do at home? Or will you need to adjust while you’re away?
- Phone number. Many people can work with a local SIM card. However, if you need your original phone number from your home country, make sure to research international plans before leaving.
- Wifi connection and generator. For example, we have amazing wifi in our apartment in Roatán, but the power is known to go out frequently and there isn’t an on-site generator. If you have very strict hours or days packed with meetings, make sure to find accommodation with an on-site generator or other walkable options nearby.
Remote Work Ideas
I’m currently working as a Virtual Assistant. This means I’m lucky enough to be able to work from anywhere! As long as I have decent wifi of course (and preferably, a similar timezone). For detailed information on how I became a virtual assistant and live in the Caribbean as a digital nomad, check out this post.
If you’re looking into remote work, I could not recommend the Virtual Assistant lifestyle more! You can make it whatever you need it to be: part-time or full-time, flexible hours or strict hours and for any skill set. If you’re interested in becoming a Virtual Assistant, I recommend taking Kat Ann’s course The VA Vault. Not only does she lay out every skill you need to become a successful Virtual Assistant, she also discusses the logistics that you’ll need to know to work for yourself, such as taxes, invoicing, etc. Kat also sends out weekly newsletters with new Virtual Assistant positions for her students!
If you’re more interested in the Influencer/Blogger route, Christina Galbato‘s Influencer Bootcamp and Blogger Bootcamp are absolute necessities. After taking the Influencer Bootcamp, I grew my Instagram following from 4.7K to 8.5K in just 3 months! Christina is an amazing educator and her Facebook communities of Influencers and Bloggers are an incredibly valuable resource for anyone aspiring to be their own boss.
COVID-19 Safety in Your New Destination
This is a very simple step: follow the rules and safety regulations in every country. If the country requires masks indoors, wear a mask. If their restaurants are operating at half-capacity, respect the capacity. Long story short, be respectful of the Coronavirus travel restrictions wherever and whenever you are traveling.
We chose to visit the Caribbean because we knew that being in a warm destination with lots of outdoor options would minimize our risk of contracting and spreading the disease. Since arriving in Honduras, we’ve only been inside a handful of times at gas stations and grocery stores. Each time, we’ve used hand sanitizer at the door and kept our masks securely fastened over our mouth AND NOSE (which many people seem to think is optional). We wear our masks in taxis with the windows down and always choose to eat outside in restaurants.
COVID-19 safety measures are there for a reason, so follow them. In my opinion, when you’re traveling during a pandemic you are even more responsible for social distancing and following proper safety protocol.
Seeking the Correct Information
You may be wondering, how am I supposed to know the rules in a country I haven’t been to? Sometimes, there are limited online resources and the answers aren’t obvious with a quick Google search. My recommendation is join a local Facebook group!
In Roatán, there’s a handy local group called Ask Anything – Roatán where we were able to easily inquire about COVID-19 safety regulations, mandatory quarantines and travel restrictions as well as other useful topics like local restaurants and the best accommodations on the island! It’s an easy way to get insights from locals about the current situation in every country.
To be completely honest with you, I was incredibly anxious in the weeks before leaving for Roatán. Our trip was scheduled for five days before Biden was sworn into office. We had no idea what the restrictions would look like by the time we returned.
Looking back, I’m very thankful that I was able to push aside my concerns. It’s only been three weeks but Roatán is everything I had hoped it would be and more! In fact, I’ve already decided to extend my trip for an extra couple weeks. (I need all the sun I can get before heading back to the midwest).
EDIT: This post about how I moved abroad safely during the Coronavirus pandemic was written in February of 2021. It’s the end of August and I’m STILL living in Roatan.
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