What to do if you get COVID-19 while traveling
As more and more people start feeling comfortable about returning to Ââ or planning their return to travel, there is one big question that brings pause to even the most optimistic travelers among us: What happens if I get COVID-19 when Iâm traveling?
Since most of my travels of the last year have been road trips within a 500-mile radius of my own home, this question hasnât given me much pause. Had I started feeling unwell or needed to isolate due to exposure, Iâd point my Google Maps toward home and quarantine there.
See related:Â Strategies for planning 2021 travel
What to do if you are exposed to COVID-19 or test positive far from home
Just after the Christmas holidays, a good friend of mine (weâll call her Maeve) traveled with her family to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for a ski trip. Their plan was to spend a week together on the slopes. But they wound up with a couple of days visiting doctors and hospitals, two positive COVID tests, and a 1,900-mile, cross-country drive to get back home to quarantine in Pennsylvania.
Unitedâs COVID-19 testing policy, you must wait 10 days after the date you tested positive and only after you have two successive negative COVID-19 results that were administered at least 24 hours apart in order to be eligible to rebook your ticket.
As most people I know arenât taking month-long holidays, this predicament means youâre facing an ultimatum: hunker down or find another safe way home.
In Maeveâs case, staying put was not an option. They had been renting a popular vacation home property that didnât have availability for them to extend their stay. Finding new accommodation in which to quarantine as a COVID positive family was complicated and cost prohibitive at hundreds of dollars per night for an additional two weeks.
They took the option to find a new way home, cutting short their stay and extending their rental car for a couple of days to the tune of a costly $800 one-way drop off fee â ouch.
Alaskaâs COVID travel regulations require you to submit a self-isolation plan as part of their arrival procedure along with negative testing.
Step 3: Recover any expenses you can using travel insurance
Travel insurance doesnât fix everything. But when things go south, being able to recover any expenses of an interrupted trip is better than taking it all as a loss.
In the midst of reconfiguring logistics and caring for her family, Maeve took quick actions with the airline, accommodations and credit card companies to help salvage some of the costs of her trip.
United quickly issued her a flight credit for the return portion of her familyâs tickets from Steamboat Springs (SBS) to Newark (EWR) that would go unused. Sheâll be able to use the dollar value of this travel to go somewhere else once everyone is well and up for traveling again.
On the familyâs accommodation, they wound up checking out of their rental home several days early, losing $1,600 on their non-refundable booking made through Turnkey. For this, Maeve turned to her Chase Sapphire Reserve card’s travel insurance.
See related:Â Should I buy travel insurance?
âWhen youâre dealing with someone being sick, filing a credit card insurance claim is probably not top of your mind, but itâs important to at least get it started. That way youâll know what documentation you need while youâre still there and itâs easier to get,â she recommends.
âWe told Turnkey immediately that weâd be checking out early, and I knew from starting the claim with Chase that Iâd be required to provide documentation of the cancellation, a copy of Turnkeyâs accommodation cancellation policy and a letter from Turnkey confirming that we didnât get any reimbursement from them.â
Even in advance of travel, there are steps you can take that will set you up for the best scenario in case something happens. For example, when purchasing your flight and booking your accommodations and car rentals, use the card that offers the best travel insurance policy. In the case that you have to cancel your trip, or if it gets interrupted by a qualifying reason, youâll be able to include all of your expenses in one claim. Maeve did this right by using her Chase Sapphire Reserve for all of the big expenses for her Steamboat ski trip.
See related: Events canceled due to coronavirus: How to get your money back
Getting COVID on vacation certainly isnât the best scenario, as Maeve will attest, but itâs a risk we all take when choosing to travel these days. You never know whatâs going to happen â so make sure to have a plan ahead of time. Be safe out there friends.