Travel now - or wait till it's safer?

Travel now - or wait till it's safer?

The authorities are adding more countries to ramp up international travel to and from Singapore.

SINGAPORE – For almost two years, holidaying abroad has been somewhat unimaginable due to travel curbs.

While the Government has decided to ease those curbs by introducing vaccinated travel lanes (VTL), some people are still understandably wary of booking a trip amid the pandemic. The new Omicron Covid-19 variant has also emerged.

However, those who cannot wait to travel again are elated at the prospect of jetting off during this holiday season.

Here are some pointers on why Singaporeans should travel now or hold off their plans.

Travel now: seize the day

Those in favour of travelling internationally in the immediate future can consider these factors:

Travel is safe, at least the Government believes so

Despite flare-ups in Covid-19 cases both in Singapore and the countries on the VTL list, the scheme seems to be here to stay.

The authorities are adding more countries to ramp up international travel to and from Singapore.

In the latest announcements, travel lanes with Indonesia, Finland, India and Sweden were established yesterday.

Overall, travelling from Singapore is deemed largely safe, provided you have been fully vaccinated and strive to be a responsible globetrotter.

Plenty of options for now

While Denmark reimposed quarantine on travellers from Singapore on Nov 11, that still leaves seven European countries that offer quarantine-free travel for Singaporeans.

However, there is no telling what will happen in the coming months as Europe prepares its pandemic response to stem a winter Covid-19 surge. It would make sense to opt to travel now while you can still do so with relative ease.

Travel is not as complicated as the alarming headlines may indicate

Despite the anxiety-inducing news, international travel is not as complicated as it once was.

Case in point: When Singapore was recently categorised as high-risk by Germany, it may have conjured up images of complicated entry rules or a lengthy quarantine.

In fact, Singaporean travellers simply took a few minutes to apply online for quarantine exemption by submitting either proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19.

Then on Sunday, Singapore was taken off the high-risk list. Residents of Singapore may now enter Germany without any prior electronic entry registration.

If you make sure you get the latest travel information from reputable travel blogs and government websites, you may find that current travel rules may not be as restrictive as you think. Wego, for instance, posts updated travel information and articles on its travel blog (

Travel now - or wait till it's safer?

The authorities are adding more countries to ramp up international travel to and from Singapore. PHOTO: WEGO

Vaccines smooth things out

Being a fully-vaccinated Singapore traveller means having more freedom than you realise, especially if you got the widely accepted Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Aside from being able to avoid quarantine, being fully vaccinated means VTL countries such as Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, the United States and the United Kingdom will require only polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for entry. You may even skip testing if you head to Spain and Switzerland.

Flexible policies

The unpredictable nature of pandemic travel means that, sometimes, changes in travel plans are inevitable.

Perhaps the government at your desired destination has changed entry policies, maybe it is some bad luck. But it is good to know the airlines will be able to accommodate your emergencies.

Singapore Airlines, KLM and Air France, along with others offering designated VTL flights, generally have flexible policies on booking changes and have set up reliable online refund systems.

Be sure to read the fine print, as some online refund systems may apply only to certain types of flights and bookings.

Less crowded destinations now

With many people shelving their travel plans, destinations are likely to be far less crowded now.

A good example is Australia. Singapore citizens would be the second set of foreign travellers allowed entry into Australia, after New Zealanders on Nov 21.

South Korea is also a good option as it allows arrivals only from its established travel bubbles. As of this month, Singapore and Saipan are the only places that have such an arrangement with South Korea.

This may not last, however. After the announcement of South Korea’s inclusion to the VTL last month, flight searches for Singapore to South Korea on Wego jumped tenfold compared with the month before.

Based on Wego data, South Korea, along with China, the UK, the US and Germany, are among the most popular flight searches to VTL destinations in the last three months for trips up to January.

As more people get comfortable with the idea of flying again, interest in those countries and others may spike.

Now is about the best time to travel if you would like to avoid the crowd.

Travel now - or wait till it's safer?

Singapore citizens would be the second set of foreign travellers allowed entry into Australia, after New Zealanders on Nov 21. PHOTO: WEGO

Travel later: wait until things are safer

While restrictions are gradually being eased, uncertainties and challenges will linger for a lot of travellers.

The following scenarios may factor into your decision to postpone travel plans.

Lots of research required

Pandemic travel has added extra hoops for travellers to jump through. Not only do you need to bulk up your pre-travel preparations, but you also have to familiarise yourself with local restrictions at your destination.

Take Abu Dhabi, for example. When the United Arab Emirates is restored as a VTL destination, international tourists will need to upload their vaccination certificates to the Al Hosn app, the UAE’s Covid-19 contact-tracing app. Once completed, they will get the green status required to gain entry to public places.

You can easily find information and instructions on UAE travel online. However, some people may not wish to deal with the hassle and prefer to cancel or postpone their trip.

Extra expenditures

International travel in the midst of a pandemic will entail extra costs for testing, insurance and possibly quarantine stays.

Pre-departure PCR tests can cost from $125 to $200 a person. On-arrival PCR tests may also be mandatory. Travellers must also undergo pre-departure and on-arrival PCR tests upon returning to Singapore.

And in Europe, all Schengen Area countries mandate Covid-19 insurance for international arrivals, which means Singaporeans need to obtain insurance with coverage worth at least €30,000 (S$46,500) before visiting any European country on the VTL list.

Pandemic-related complications

While you should prepare for your travels to the best of your ability, there is the possibility of pandemic-related surprises.

For example, if you test positive for Covid-19 while overseas, most VTL countries will require you to quarantine for 10 days. Travellers will naturally cover the cost of the extended stay.

Getting caught in the middle of a change in travel rules when abroad – or worse, a nation-wide lockdown – are some of the other risks that may dissuade people from travelling in the near future.

To travel or not to travel?

There is no right or wrong decision, just an educated one.

Travelling can be safe if you and members of your household are fully vaccinated and are generally in good health. Under such conditions, a trip to a low-risk country can be uplifting after months of staying put.

But if any member of your household is immuno-compromised or you are simply not ready, it is best to play it safe and wait until things have significantly improved.

• The writers are editors at Wego, a one-stop travel marketplace offering products, services and content for travellers and business partners.

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