What happens if I get COVID-19 while traveling?
Depending on your destination, it could result in an unexpected change in plans, such as being required to stay isolated in a hotel.
It’s why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you have backup plans ready if you’re traveling abroad. You might have to stay longer than planned if you test positive.
In some places, you won’t be able to board flights until you test negative. In others, you might also be required to stay in a quarantine facility.
Since results from a PCR test can remain positive for weeks after an infection, those who have had COVID-19 might have to get documentation from a doctor or health authorities saying they’ve recovered. Some travel only requires an antigen test.
If you end up needing medical treatment, check with your embassy for suggested health care providers. Keep in mind that some countries still have overwhelmed health care systems due to the pandemic.
Plan time for recovery since some countries — including the U.S. — require a negative test for reentry. Exceptions to this policy may be granted on an “extremely limited” basis, such as in the event of an emergency medical evacuation or humanitarian crisis, says the CDC.
It also helps to be financially prepared to pay unexpected bills. While it varies country to country, travelers are often responsible for costs associated with any isolation or medical treatments needed.
Travel companies suggest getting insurance that will cover the cost of treatment, isolation or rescheduled travel plans. Some countries require that you have insurance before you’re allowed to enter.