What to Expect If You Test Positive for COVID While Traveling Abroad

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Center college science trainer Stefanie Guggenheim was set to fly residence to Illinois from a weeklong household trip via Spain — a final hurrah earlier than the college yr would begin.

As all passengers should do earlier than getting into the U.S. from overseas, she and her household took a fast COVID-19 take a look at in Barcelona the day earlier than their flight in August. Her dad’s take a look at got here again damaging. Her sister’s take a look at got here again damaging. Hers was constructive.

“The girl issuing our exams gave them their clearance kinds,” says Guggenheim, who was vaccinated on the time. “She checked out me and easily mentioned, ‘10 days.’ I used to be in shock.”

That night wasn’t the final hurrah in Spain she anticipated. As a substitute, she rushed to reschedule her flight whereas her household bought provides to get her via the unanticipated quarantine. And the subsequent day, her household returned to the U.S., leaving 27-year-old Guggenheim alone in a lodge room with no human interplay for 10 days, except for the knock on the door from somebody delivering meals.

What adopted was a crash course in what occurs for those who take a look at constructive for COVID-19 whereas touring overseas.

What occurs whenever you take a look at constructive

The price of getting COVID-19 overseas — and the method of coping with it — can range by nation, and infrequently even by area.

Guggenheim lucked out (as a lot as one may when testing constructive) as a result of she was in Barcelona, which operates particular “well being motels” for folks required to self-isolate. The Spanish authorities coated the price of her lodge, which was a small room with a twin mattress and mini balcony overlooking the road beneath. If she had wanted to foot the invoice, a 10-day keep may have simply value her greater than $800, in response to a BaghdadTime evaluation of a dozen lodge stays at funds properties in Barcelona (and that doesn’t even account for the price of meals).

Equally, traveler Rollie Peterkin, who examined constructive again in January 2021, had an analogous fortuitous second. Peterkin, who was certain for Turkey with a stopover within the U.S., examined constructive the day earlier than he was set to depart Costa Rica.

Costa Rica requires unvaccinated vacationers to buy journey insurance coverage. Whereas he has since been vaccinated, he was not on the time. And so — whereas Peterkin usually by no means purchases journey insurance coverage — he forked over roughly $30 for it.

However he wasn’t certain what would get reimbursed (if something), so Peterkin mentioned he nonetheless tried to maintain prices down somewhat than order good meals and keep at luxurious motels throughout his quarantine.  Whereas he submitted about $2,000 price of receipts, he mentioned he was grateful to get a $1,000 verify again from his insurance coverage firm, finally.

Listed here are among the challenges that Guggenheim and Peterkin encountered given their prolonged stays:


As a result of the federal government coated room and board, Guggenheim’s keep in Spain had few bills except for the lodge’s laundry service.

Lodging was tougher for Peterkin, who was staying at a hostel. The hostel proprietor requested him to depart after studying concerning the constructive take a look at, so Peterkin scrambled to seek out lodging that will settle for him and finally discovered a trip rental. With no laundry detergent, he defaulted to doing laundry within the sink with dish cleaning soap.

What to anticipate: Clearly prices will range by location, nevertheless it isn’t unreasonable to anticipate to pay not less than $100 an evening at funds motels if it’s important to prolong your keep. This could possibly be upwards of $1,000 over the course of 10 nights.


Guggenheim, who’s vegan, mentioned she was impressed that her lodge even supplied meat-free meals. Guggenheim mentioned she doesn’t recall the meals high quality as a result of by day three of quarantine, she misplaced her sense of odor.

On condition that he was in a trip rental, Peterkin relied on a meals supply service. He usually ordered simply two meals a day to scale back supply charges.

What to anticipate: It’s not unreasonable to anticipate to pay $15-$20 per delivered meal when you’re in quarantine. So that you’ll have to consider a number of hundred {dollars} for meals.


Guggenheim anticipated a work-free trip and didn’t carry a laptop computer. However given her impending lonely quarantine, her household bought her a laptop computer on the Apple Retailer in Barcelona so she may put together for her upcoming college yr. Apart from that, the extent of her leisure entailed a stray cat wandering via her lodge’s hallway.

Peterkin, who works remotely as a author and podcaster, mentioned he remained comparatively productive, albeit bored.

“Apart from that, I used to be simply busting out pushups to maintain myself occupied,” he says.

What to anticipate: Whereas shopping for a laptop computer could appear excessive, you’ll wish to not less than take into consideration what you is likely to be doing to kill time for those who’re overseas however unable to get out and about. Will you want to have the ability to work out of your lodge room? Do you may have a guide or electronics with you that may get you thru the quarantine time?


Each Guggenheim and Peterkin rescheduled their preliminary flights. Most airways have added versatile change and cancellation insurance policies because the pandemic. Each mentioned that they didn’t need to pay change charges, although they each owed the distinction of their unique airfare versus the last-minute, costlier airfare.

Peterkin’s state of affairs was tough as a result of whereas his ultimate vacation spot was Turkey, he had a stopover within the U.S., however he booked the flights individually. His insurance coverage coated the airfare from Costa Rica to the U.S., however he owed the fare distinction for the rescheduled flight onward to Turkey.

What to anticipate: Rebooking a flight might be costly, since you’re often on the hook for the distinction in fare value, which is usually going to be increased whenever you’re rebooking near your new post-quarantine departure date versus that unique flight you probably booked nicely forward of time. This value may simply be a number of hundred {dollars}.

Medical bills

Guggenheim mentioned her signs — which largely set in mid-quarantine — have been delicate, which she attributes to being vaccinated. Peterkin mentioned he was asymptomatic. However for vacationers with critical circumstances, unanticipated hospital payments might be costly.

Moreover, each wanted clearance to return to the U.S. For Guggenheim, that entailed a go to to a physician, who wrote a be aware stating she was absolutely recovered.

Peterkin’s ticket to the U.S. was a damaging take a look at end result. As a result of exams within the space value $90, he waited 10 days regardless of being asymptomatic to raised assure a damaging take a look at — thus making certain he wouldn’t lose $90 on a second constructive take a look at.

What to anticipate: This is usually a enormous variable relying on how sick (or not) you get. Something from paying for a COVID-19 take a look at to prolonged hospital prices could possibly be mandatory relying on the nation you’re in.

How one can put together for the potential for getting COVID overseas

“I do know the vaccine just isn’t essentially there to rid you of the sickness, however somewhat to maintain your signs delicate,” Guggenheim says. “Nonetheless, I used to be shocked that I examined constructive and my household examined damaging.”

Guggenheim mentioned she was conscious of probably getting sick. “However you by no means assume it’s going to occur to you till it does,” she says.

In anticipation that you just may take a look at constructive, right here’s tips on how to put together:

Perceive your present medical insurance coverage and think about buying journey insurance coverage

U.S.-based medical insurance coverage suppliers usually don’t cowl medical remedy whenever you’re overseas, so at all times verify along with your insurer whether or not it gives protection for worldwide journey. If it doesn’t, think about buying journey medical insurance coverage. Whereas it usually received’t cowl routine bills, it may well cowl emergency medical bills, whether or not it’s breaking your leg on a ski journey or ending up within the hospital with COVID-19.

Pay with sure journey bank cards

Some journey bank cards supply myriad journey insurance coverage advantages together with journey cancellation, medical remedy and medical evacuation protection. Whereas it’s usually a perk on premium journey bank cards (which additionally usually have annual charges north of $500), holding certainly one of these playing cards might be nicely price it do you have to take a look at constructive.

It’s widespread for these playing cards to reimburse bills of as much as not less than $5,000 to $20,000, so long as the unique buy was made on the identical card. Reasonably than buy a separate journey insurance coverage coverage, you may need adequate protection out of your bank card’s journey insurance coverage. Phrases range by card, however usually they will reimburse you if another person in your journey occasion exams constructive (even for those who don’t).

Ebook with airways and motels which have versatile insurance policies

But even counting on insurance coverage might be irritating. You’ll usually nonetheless have to pay upfront prices and submit receipts for reimbursement. Peterkin mentioned it took a few dozen telephone calls and plenty of months earlier than his insurer despatched his $1,000 verify.

To keep away from requiring reimbursement for a missed flight or a canceled lodge room on the subsequent leg of your journey, guide with journey suppliers with versatile change and cancellation insurance policies. Whereas airline and lodge cancellation insurance policies have improved, not all are that beneficiant. For instance, many fundamental financial system fares are unchangeable, so what looks as if low cost airfare may find yourself being a sunk value.

Is worldwide journey a good suggestion given the danger of testing constructive for COVID-19?

It is determined by who you ask. Guggenheim says that in hindsight, she needs she had opted for a home trip.

“Don’t journey outdoors your individual nation if you wish to get better in your individual mattress,” she says. “The delta variant is alive and nicely. Our vaccines are useful and I’m grateful I didn’t get very sick, however they’re not a remedy.”

However, Peterkin didn’t let quarantine in Costa Rica cease him. Since then, he’s been to greater than a dozen international locations, and even acquired his first AstraZeneca vaccine in Montenegro and the second dose in Romania.

“I’m simply pleased to have the ability to journey,” he says. “Getting a refund from my journey insurance coverage was icing on the cake.”

That mentioned, Peterkin hasn’t bought journey insurance coverage because the Costa Rica tour.

“I most likely ought to get it,” he says. “I assume I’m just a little bit reckless.”

How one can maximize your rewards

You desire a journey bank card that prioritizes what’s vital to you. Listed here are our picks for the finest journey bank cards of 2021, together with these finest for:

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