I’ve had a lot of questions about what it was like to fly, and be in other countries, during the pandemic, and I’ve not seen many people post about it, so I thought I would. It’s also going to be a massive part of our history and it will be interesting to look back in the future and remember my experience of travelling during a pandemic.
I was supposed to fly to Bucharest, Romania in March 2020, just before lockdown happened. I cancelled that trip as I just couldn’t be sure I wouldn’t have issues getting back home (it turned out the issues started a week after I would’ve got back, but I maintain I was right to not take the risk at that point) and then I had a Prague-Vienna-Bratislava-Budapest trip planned for June. The flights got cancelled in April by Ryanair, so not going on that one wasn’t my choice. I had a week off in September, though, and at that point I was so sick of staring at my own four walls, that I rebooked Prague-Vienna at the last minute, two days before I flew. I was nervous about travelling during a pandemic but I was also going a bit stir crazy.
Did you need to self isolate?
At the time of booking I knew I had to self isolate for 14 days when I got back from Vienna, and I was lucky enough to be able to do that as I live alone and I work from home at the moment anyway. I did an online Tesco shop before I went, to be delivered the Monday morning after I’d arrived home late Sunday night, so I didn’t have to worry about food, and I planned to spend my two weeks editing photos, writing blog content and working overtime. I bought some more masks (I took 4 fabric ones and a pack of disposables, not knowing what the rules on masks would be in the different cities I wanted to have options and spares) and the majority of my liquid allowance was taken up with anti bacterial hand gel, but it was doable. I’d also booked self contained apartments with self check in, so wouldn’t need to share living space with others (no different for me than usual to be honest) and I knew when I was outside I could stay away from people if I needed to. I appreciate not everyone is able to self isolate for 14 days so may not be able to travel, and you do need to be careful that the country you’re going to doesn’t make you isolate for 14 days on arrival.
What was the airport like?
The shuttle bus from my carpark to the airport had loads of other people in and no one had masks on…but once I arrived at Manchester Airport everyone was masked, every other chair had a note saying not to sit on it, there was anti bac gel on the way in (although that’s all I saw) and the airport was pretty quiet. This was 6pm on a Tuesday in September, though, I can’t speak for a weekday in school holidays.
What about the plane?
The actual flight was about half full, I had a row to myself. We needed to wear marks throughout the flight unless eating or drinking, and despite rumours I’d heard about not being able to use the toilets you can, you just can’t queue in the aisle, which makes sense.
What’s the mask situation abroad?
I don’t take public transport here so I can’t comment on whether it’s the same, but in both Prague and Vienna you wore a mask on any public transport. You also wore a mask anytime you were inside, unless seated at a table in a restaurant. I’d say just the same as the UK although I didn’t see any queues outside.
What about accommodation?
I stayed in a self contained apartment in Vienna and a hotel room in Prague. I asked them not to clean my room whilst I was there and I wiped around with anti bac wipes on arrival, although I’m sure they’d also done the same. I also cleaned the Vienna apartment. I was contact free check in for both. The hotel served breakfast still, but this was an order and we will bring to your table situation, no buffet.
Was it busy?
Both cities were so, so quiet. Prague so much so that I couldn’t do the minibus tour I wanted as they needed two people and there was only me, and I waited for half an hour. It did mean I could see everything I wanted easily but there wasn’t much of an atmosphere.
Did you feel safe?
Absolutely. Unlike when I nip to Tesco at home, no one was standing so close they were on my feet, people were wearing their masks properly, and there was anti bac gel inside every shop doorway. I felt far safer in Prague and Vienna than I do here, which honestly isn’t what I’d expected travelling during a pandemic.
If you’ve been travelling during a pandemic, or if you’ve chosen not to, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.