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Travel planner: Things and places to consider as regular international flights resume

Covid vaccines, requirements, visas, flights and travel tips.

March 25, 2022 / 03:29 PM IST
Fishermen from Watamu, Kenya, rescue a turtle. Kenya has announced that fully vaccinated tourists don't need to show an RT-PCR report or undergo quarantine (unless they show symptoms) upon arrival in the country. (Image: AP)

Fishermen from Watamu, Kenya, rescue a turtle. Kenya has announced that fully vaccinated tourists don't need to show an RT-PCR report or undergo quarantine (unless they show symptoms) upon arrival in the country. (Image: AP)

THAILAND

Vaccine: For arrivals by air and land: No quarantine required, but on Day 1, visitors must wait for the Covid-19 test result while staying in an approved SHA Extra Plus (SHA++) or alternative quarantine facility. (Requires a prepaid hotel booking). An insurance policy with a minimum cover of USD 20,000 including Covid treatment (Period of insurance: Duration of Stay+ 10/15 days, in case tested positive).

Apply for a Thailand Pass at https://tp.consular.go.th/

Visa:

Visa on Arrival (VOA): Available

Close

E-VOA: Through VFS

Sticker Visa: Through VFS/BLS

Flights: Mumbai–Bangkok–Mumbai (Return Economy Fare)

Thai Smile: INR 17,499 + Tax

Thai Airways: INR 23,551 + Tax

Spicejet: INR 24,502 + Tax

SEYCHELLES

Vaccine: Seychelles is open to all tourists, irrespective of vaccination status. Visitors must present a negative RT-PCR test taken maximum 72-hours before departure. Additionally, visitors need to submit a duly filled application for Health Travel Authorisation on https://seychelles.govtas.com/ which is subject to verification and approval of the Public Health Authority. All visitors must have valid travel health insurance

Visa: Visa on Arrival

Flight: Air Seychelles flies a weekly flight currently from Mumbai into Seychelles. Return Economy fare is INR 40,000.

SRI LANKA

Vaccine: Covid-19 PCR tests or rapid antigen tests (RAT) are no longer required for fully vaccinated travellers or for children below the age of 12 years prior to their arrival in Sri Lanka.

Tourist Visa holders require a mandatory Sri Lanka Covid-19 Insurance coverage to be purchased online (https://portal.pionline.lk/covidinsurance/) or on arrival.  This insurance costs USD 12 for the mandatory one-month insurance and has a cover of USD 50,000, including hospitalisation if needed due to COVID-19 infection.

Visa: Apply for ETA at https://srilanka.visaonlinegov.org/

Flight: Mumbai-Colombo-Mumbai (Return Economy Fare)

Srilankan Airlines: INR 30,996+ Tax

Indigo Airlines: INR 24,252+ Tax

KENYA

Vaccine: Kenya has announced that RT-PCR negative report is no longer required for doubly vaccinated tourists. No quarantine or re-test required unless someone develops symptoms.

Visa: The visa application is online - it costs 50USD and takes 24-48 hours for processing.

Flight: Currently, there are 3 direct flights every week (Wednesday/Friday/Sunday) from Mumbai into Nairobi.

SOUTH AFRICA

Vaccine: Travellers from India to South Africa will be required to produce a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa.

Visa: Indian citizens can now get an eVisa for South Africa.  The application process is 100% online and travellers receive the approved visa by email.

Flight: Currently, there are several stop-over flights fly from India to South Africa, including Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Air Arabia, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and Air Mauritius.

MAURITIUS

Vaccine: Incoming visitors don't need to carry a negative RT-PCR report to enter Mauritius. However, visitors must be fully vaccinated and have Covid-19 insurance cover. Vaccinated visitors will have to undergo Covid-19 testing in the hotel on the day of arrival. Non-vaccinated visitors will have to undergo testing in the hotel on the day of arrival and self-isolate for 7 days. No test required on Day 7.

Prior to travel, it is compulsory for all travellers to fill out the digital Mauritius All in One travel form.

Visa: Visa on Arrival for Indians.

Flight: Air Mauritius Mumbai-Mauritius-Mumbai round trip Economy class fare is around INR 51,000 per person.

Weather: Winter season starts around May in Mauritius. Carry woollens.  

IRELAND

Vaccine: International travellers to Ireland no longer require to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative PCR test upon arrival or complete a Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form.

For Northern Ireland, it is no longer mandatory to complete a passenger locator form, show proof of vaccination, take any pre-departure or post-arrival tests.

Visa: Apply through VFS. Total fee for single entry visa is roughly INR 9,000. Processing time: 10-15 working days. If the Irish Visa or UK Visa has a BIVS (British Irish Visa Scheme) stamp, one visa is valid for entry into both the UK as well as Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Flight: Currently, Emirates, Qatar Airways, British Airways have good connections on the Mumbai-Dublin-Mumbai route. Fares can range between INR 75,000 to INR 85,000 for the first week of May.

TRAVEL TIPS

Check Covid guidelines: Each country has its own Covid-related entry guidelines. Check the latest on the destination country’s or airline’s official website.

Consider travel insurance: This might seem like an unnecessary hole in the pocket but do not skip this. Ask about cashless transaction for hospitalisation + flight delays and cancellation.

Keep it digital: Scan and save all travel-related documents on your phone/email. Keep a photocopy in your check-in luggage also.

Pack essentials in your carry-on: Lost baggage is a nightmare. Pack essentials, for example, medicine in your cabin luggage.

Double check your passport: Check passport/visa validity.

Register with the Consulate: Go to the official website of the Indian Consulate and register yourself.

Buy flexi tickets: Check airlines’ official website for rules/charges for refund, postponement, cancellation of flights.

Book directly with the airline or hotel: If you need to make changes to a booking, you'll find it easier if you have booked directly with the provider rather than through a search site or an agent. Remember, the agent/travel site charge certain fee even if the airlines has issued full refund.

Use your travel points: Spend your travel points to get as much as you can with them because they are not going to go up in value.

Check your credit card benefits: Check for all updated rules about your credit card benefits. These might have changed recently.

HOW TO GET THE BEST HOTEL DEALS

Book on the hotel’s own website. If you’re a member of a hotel’s loyalty program and are trying to earn or maintain elite status, booking directly is the best option. When booking through an OTA, you might not earn loyalty points and elite night credits.

Try kayak.co.in. Kayak is not an OTA, it’s a metasearch engine for travel deals. This site will look at all the other sites and show you where the best deals are. Use the price slider to narrow your search to only inexpensive options.

Booking.com is one of the better options to search for and book hotels, hostels, B&Bs, apartments, and vacation homes. Look out for their room types marked as Genius discount available: you’ll save 10% off the base price by logging in to your account.

Sign up with Expedia that offers its own rewards program. It’s free to join and allows you to earn points that you can use to book travel on Expedia.

Try Momondo: You won’t ever actually book anything on Momondo’s website but this metasearch engine sorts through deals on other websites to help find the best price.
Preeti Verma Lal is a Goa-based freelance writer/photographer.
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