So I leave tomorrow for the Azores and travelling with Covid is now truly a challenge.
I got my vaccinations through the hospital in May and July 2021 so the antigens are now running through my veins and I am safe to travel and be indoors. The Delta virus is a bit of a concern, so I’m taking sterile precautions when travelling and staying in the Azores.
I never leave for a trip without having travel insurance which covers me in the event of injury or illness while I’m away. It’s probably the bedrock of feeling safe when you’re away. I’ve known too many people who’ve gone away without having health insurance and wind up carrying massive deaths for relatively minor injuries while overseas. (Unless they are in a country with inexpensive public healthcare. )
I purchased a full year multi-trip 16 day insurance policy from Royal Bank insurance. This kind of insurance winds up being the cheapest for me because I travel so often and secondly it also allows me to go to the US without worrying about whether or not I have coverage.
The problem with this kind of insurance is that it doesn’t cover Covid. even though it specifically doesn’t exclude it, it does say so on their website.
So I tried out a new insurance company called Goose. It offers a multi trip policy for Covid only and although it was expensive for the next couple of years it’s probably fairly cheap if ever I ran across an illness bracket even though I’m vaccinated]
Covid insurance was offered by Manulife here in Canada but the problem is it only offered it for single trips and it was still fairly expensive so Goose seemed to be the best option for me. Hopefully it’s a well-run company and won’t go bankrupt if ever I get ill while I’m away.
Here’s the link below to access Goose. I do get a small commission if you choose to buy this (full self disclosure).
Getting tested for the Azores
So what does travelling to the Azores involve right now?
The first thing I had to do was fill in a “Safe Azores” form describing what my travels were when I was arriving how long I was staying what town so I was going to visit and in the end it provided me with a form containing a QR code that would identify me when I land.
I then had to take a PCR test 72 hours before departing for the Azores. That PCR test could be added to the safe Azores form that I created in the previous step.
I found a place in Mississauga that offered PCR test for $100. Compare that to shoppers drug Mart in Ontario which charges $200 for the same PCR test. It pays to shop around.
Once I arrive in the Azores I need to have another PCR test on arrival. Then… , after six days, I have to have another PCR test administered by the local health authority in the town that I’ll be in. Then I’m required to have another PCR test after 12 days in the Azores (because I am staying 14 days).
If I go to another island in the Azores I might actually have to do another PCR test so I am going to become a professional at having a Q-tip stuck up my nose.
When I return home I have the opportunity to be randomly selected for a PCR test on arrival at YYZ. If I’m selected then I get another PCR test after three days that I have to administer myself at home while being viewed by a nurse or public health authority.
Looking at Equipment.
In addition to travelling light with my clothing and camera equipment I’m going to have to add a number of items to my travel kit. These are;
- A package of disposable hand wipes preferably Clorox or some thing disinfectant. This is for wiping down all the surfaces on the plane as well as once I’m inside the room in the Azores.
- N 95 mask’s which are use on the airplane and if I’m required to be indoors for an extended period of time. Otherwise I plan on using cloth masks or procedure masks which are a little easier to deal with. Nonetheless I still have to wear a mask when I’m not outside.
- Hand sanitizer is going to be something that I’ll carry around with me in small disposable bottles and then I’ll just refill because I’m not going to be able to carry a large bottle on the airplane. It won’t get through security. Consequently I guess I’ll try and refill once I find large bottles somewhere for example maybe at a grocery store
I’m going to take a few precautions when I stay in a hostel.
If the room is too crowded then I try to move to a private room with an en suite bath.
If there’s only someone in the room with me then I’ll try and stay at the opposite end of the room and will probably wear a cloth mask at night so that I reduce the potential exposure to any Covid that might be hanging around.
I’ll also be washing my hands a lot more frequently just simply because it’s a good thing to do and it will remove a lot of the potential surface contact although that really doesn’t seem to be much of a risk compared to airborne transmission.
So that’s my plan and I’ll be sticking to it. Thankfully most of the PCR tests that I take after my first one will all be paid for by the public health authority.