7 Steps for Travelling in COVID Times
It is great to be back in Grenada! We arrived on Saturday evening, having travelled through Barbados. And we had the wonderfully warm welcome we have always received when we arrived.
Of course, there was a little bit of extra admin to deal with and we are now in quarantine, but that is all part and parcel when travelling during COVID times!
There are a few more things you have to be aware off when travelling during the pandemic. It is all pretty straight forward. Just make sure you know where to get the right information from and be flexible.
We did lots of research as we planned our journey, and we see lots of people asking the same questions as we did. So, here are our 7 steps for travelling in COVID times. And we have detailed how we organised our route from London to Grenada a few days ago.
BlueFoot Travel’s 7 Steps
- Step 1: Check the travel and quarantine advisories for the country you are travelling to and if applicable also the country you are transiting through. All countries we sail around during our cabin charters have excellent travel advisory websites that detail all the steps you need to follow for seamless entry.
- Step 2: Verify flight availability for your travel.
- Step 3: Find out what the COVID test requirements are for the country you are travelling through, what test they require and when they need the test done.
- Step 4: Confirm the length of the quarantine requirements for the country you are travelling through and to. Ensure you book your accommodation from the approved quarantine accommodation lists.
- Step 5: Check the paperwork requirements for entry into a country.
- Step 6: Understand how travel has changed. What is available at the airport and on the plane.
- Step 7: Know what to expect when arriving at your destination.
Our Journey from London to Grenada
So how did this pan out for our trip from England to Grenada? We flew from London (LHR) via Barbados (BGI) on 20th November 2020 and from Barbados to Grenada (GND) on 21st November 2020.
Step 1 – Travel Advisories
Most countries use 3 categories to determine which quarantine and tests are required when you arrive in their country. These are – Low Risk, Medium Risk and High Risk. We arrived from the UK, which is a high-risk country at the time of writing.
Make sure you check the travel advisory sites regularly for any updates and read all the way through the travel advisories. There is a lot of useful information in them, and the contact information, should you need help, is often on the last page.
We would recommend planning on the highest risk scenario guidelines for the country you are travelling to. You are then covered if there are any changes during the planning of your trip.
For a full list of travel advisories for the islands we are sailing to this season, visit our Coronavirus FAQ here.
Step 2 – Flights
We booked our flights two months ahead of the trip. A lot later than we usually book flights. We booked British Airways to Barbados and Caribbean Airlines from Barbados to Grenada. You could also fly Inter Caribbean.
On 4th November 2020, England went back into full lockdown and our international flight to Barbados was cancelled. As we were travelling for business (which was allowed), we rebooked our international flight to Barbados for free and only a week before we were due to travel.
Unfortunately, our connecting flight was no longer available on the same day as we were arriving in Barbados. We, therefore, organised an overnight transit in Barbados and then took the flight to Grenada the following day. Also rescheduled for free. Usually, it is easy to book an onward transit flight on the same day.
We confirmed that we could do a one-night transit with Barbados’ Chief Medical Officer, who responded instantly with confirmation that we could.
Thankfully the ability to change flights and hotels etc. is very easy nowadays and usually does not incur a fee.
Step 3 – COVID19 Tests
There are often very specific requirements for your COVID tests. Most countries will not recognize a test that has been done by yourself at home.
You will likely have to have a test in a clinic where a clinician actually does the test for you. Having had a PCR test a number of times, there is a reason for this. There is absolutely no way that anyone can push a cotton bud up their own nose (for 10 seconds and as far as you need to) for a successful test and likewise there is no way to personally get a cotton bud swab from your own tonsils!
At the time we travelled, Barbados required a negative PCR test taken less than 72-hour before arrival. Grenada needed a negative PCR test taken 7 days before arrival. Note this has now changed to 72 hours which seems to be becoming the norm now. We have heard that there is talk to drive a standardized paperwork process globally but that has yet to appear.
As we needed a PCR test for business reasons, we could not use public testing facilities in the UK. We had our test done at the Exeter Travel Clinic for a fee of £145 (US$195) each. We received our negative results in just over 24 hours by email and text.
We booked the test on a Tuesday for arrival in Barbados on a Friday.
Step 4 – Quarantine
Most countries require you to quarantine before you can go out in public. The length of your quarantine requirements will be determined by the country you are travelling from and the level of COVID infections in the country you are travelling from.
In our case, we had to quarantine in our room in Barbados, and use approved taxis to transfer to and from the airport to the approved hotel.
In Grenada, we also had to have 7 nights pre-booked in an approved hotel and also use an approved taxi from the airport to the hotel.
All the transfers are organized for you at the airport. It was very efficient, the taxi was sanitized and the costs were very clear and fair.
Step 5 – Entry Paperwork
For Barbados and Grenada, you will need to fill in online forms and add your accommodation details and your negative test results as well as provide contact information.
Links to the forms are all on the travel advisory websites – Barbados and Grenada. Once logged in you will receive a code so you can amend any details and add your negative PCR results. You can not travel with a positive PCR result.
Most of us are used to travelling with our travel details on an app on our phones. But we would recommend printing all your travel paperwork out. It makes it a lot easier especially if you can’t get cell access. We took copies of the following:
- 3 copies of our negative PCR test results. We had to show a copy of our negative test to get on the British Airways flight in London. Copies were also needed in Barbados and one printout was kept by Grenadian officials.
- Details of our flight connections.
- Approved accommodation bookings with proof of payment.
- Copies of the entry paperwork forms filled out for both Barbados and Grenada.
Step 6 – Travelling
So how has the actual travel changed? There are a few things we noticed.
We recommend that you don’t arrive at the airport too early. You will only be trying to avoid being close to people the whole time, and anyway, the airports are so empty, so you speed through everywhere. In fact, as England was in lockdown, we had more traffic in Barbados than we did travelling to Heathrow Airport!
A lot of the shops are closed at the airport and food service was reduced on some airlines. You can visit the airport and airline websites to understand what is open and has changed at that time of travel as it does change. We suggest bringing:
- Antibacterial wipes to clean your seat, tray and entertainment console area on the plane
- Hand sanitizer
- Enough masks for your flight (you should change your mask every 4 hours)
- Some snacks.
Boarding is still done in sections, but now you board first if you are sat at the back of the plane. This is to minimise people walking past one another in the confines of the aircraft. And you will be required to wear a mask at all times, hence the need for enough masks for your trip.
Other than that the experience is very much the same!
Step 7 – Arriving at your destination
We can say all the staff were incredibly professional and very welcoming, so it was wonderful to arrive in both Barbados and Grenada. And the warm Caribbean breeze was fabulous too!
- You will have to show your PCR test results to the staff as you enter the terminal.
- Then you will get a temperature test at the entrance to the terminal. You will also have to sanitize regularly.
- You will fill in a local health declaration form. In Grenada, you will have to confirm that you are willing to stay in quarantine for 14 days. This is in case you do not get a negative PCR result after your PCR test on Day 4. If you get a negative test you are able to leave quarantine.
- Then you clear immigration and customs.
- In Barbados, you will receive two wrist bands. One reminding you to stay in your room. The second confirming which hotel you are in. In Grenada, we received a wrist band at the hotel which you need to keep on until quarantine is complete.
- Before leaving for your hotel in an authorized taxi you will have to give your contact information again.
Compared to the UK, recording of contact details for track and trace is done very diligently, it was very impressive. In addition, there is a lot more focus on the use of hand sanitizer and you will be asked to use it at every point you come in to contact with someone.
Our Accommodation in Barbados & Grenada
Approved accommodation lists are available in most countries now if you are required to quarantine. This is great as it means the hotel has everything in place to make your stay safe (for you and for staff) and comfortable.
In Barbados, we were in The Rostrevor for one night only. It was very clean and the staff very friendly and brought us what we needed food-wise. A perfect place for a transit stay.
In Grenada, we are at True Blue Bay Boutique Resort and the accommodation is perfect. Our room is spacious. We have cooking facilities and a large balcony where we can exercise. Room service is incredibly efficient and the concierge team are very helpful. And if you need any food for home cooking you can get food delivered from Yogo or Food Fair to name a few, there are also others.
Today we received a call from the Ministry of Health confirming that we would have our PCR test on Wednesday and that it will take 24-48 hours to get the results. Fingers crossed we get another negative test! Then we are free to visit Nemo and get ready for splash!
We understand the protocols for travel may be considered a little inconvenient. However, more often than not in life, when you have to work a little harder to achieve something it is almost always worth the effort.
We can’t wait to get back out on Nemo and explore the islands with our guests. And for those of you who decide that the extra mile is worth it, you are going to have a unique Caribbean experience this year, you definitely will not regret it.
Thanks for reading our blog. If you want to join us on a cabin charter you can view our trips here.
Neil & Sam
The BlueFoot Travel Team
About BlueFoot Travel
We offer sailing holidays in the Caribbean. Join us on board a shared yacht and experience an unforgettable crewed cabin charter. Use this sailing trip schedule to book a cabin for your sailing vacation – ideal for solo and single travellers, couples and small groups. Relax and recharge. Enjoy delicious healthy food. Get hands-on sailing experience with an RYA sailing instructor. And, have lots of fun as we sail from one beautiful island to the next. Sail in style with BlueFoot Travel.