For many of us, travel during 2020 has been a no-go. With various restrictions, new rules and guidelines to consider, it’s more essential than ever to plan, review and adjust to a new way of living.
Barbados is a destination that I’ve wanted to visit for some time, I just hadn’t expected to do so during a pandemic. But nonetheless, after 10 months of no travel and a second UK lockdown, I decided to take the opportunity to venture abroad. There’s plenty of new guidelines to factor in, but it’s possible.
1. Book your PCR test with a private clinic, to be taken at least 72 hours before your arrival in Barbados. Provided your test is confirmed as negative for COVID-19, you’re able to travel. I booked my test with Midland Health and received my results via email 24 hours later.
2. Arrange your stay at a quarantine hotel in Barbados. By doing so, you won’t need to stay within the confines of your room and can instead enjoy some limited use of facilities. I booked two nights at Treasure Beach by Elegant Hotels and arranged the rest of my stay at another location.
4. Travel and enjoy a safe flight. I travelled with Virgin Atlantic from Manchester to Barbados which was pretty painless. Cleanliness has increased and whilst there’s no social distancing between passengers on board, all passengers must wear a mask unless eating/drinking.
I felt comfortable with this arrangement and my seat mates and I were pretty efficient at ensuring that we kept our masks on.
5. Upon arrival in Barbados be prepared for a slower transition through the airport. It’s all for your own safety and to ensure that the island retains the low number of COVID transmissions, so follow the rules, keep your mask on and keep your passport, immigration form and negative COVID letter to hand.
You’ll also need to confirm your quarantine location on a couple of occasions and no, staying with relatives on the island isn’t possible whilst quarantining. Reduce the hassle and simply book a hotel for 2-3 nights. My documents were checked on no less than three occasions before reaching baggage claim.
6. After baggage claim, collect your bags and proceed to arrivals where you’ll be assigned to a taxi (unless you’ve pre-booked your transfer). Again, your details will be taken and the taxi details logged by the airport staff. This again ensures that staff know who you’ve had contact with, in case there’s any issue with your second COVID test which will be taken at a clinic in Barbados. You have the option to book a private clinic but I used the government facility which is free of charge.
7. You’ll be taken directly to your quarantine hotel, no stop offs and again, keep your mask on.
8. At your chosen hotel you’ll be staying at least 2 nights. I booked the same taxi driver that I’d taken from the airport, to take me to the government COVID testing facility the following morning. This worked perfectly as my hotel charged an inflated rate for the same journey.
I was able to get comfortable for the night, enjoying dinner and breakfast the next day via room service, before travelling to the government’s COVID testing clinic the following morning.
9. At the government testing site (I went to Black Rock) take the test and you’ll return straight to your hotel. All taxis are doing return journeys to/from your hotel, again to ensure that your contact with locals is limited. I used Donald and Suzanne Tull for my taxi rides, contactable on (246) 624-0037 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I found the government testing centre to be clean, staff were friendly and welcoming and I waited no more than 20 minutes to be seen, despite it being fairly busy with other travellers. It’s very efficient to get you in and out of the clinic as fast as possible.
10. Return to your hotel and continue to quarantine until you receive your second COVID test result.
At Treasure Beach, guests are allowed to use the pool and must wear a mask in all public areas. All rooms have a balcony and sun loungers are dotted around the property. It’s easy to spend a couple of days here. It wasn’t too busy during my stay, so it was easy to maintain a distance from others whilst enjoying the Bajan warmth.
The hotel uses WhatsApp as the form of communication with all guests ordering food and drink. You’ll be given the hotel number to use and a copy of the menu. When you’re hungry, simply place your order and inform the staff of where you are (room, pool etc.). Your order is wrapped up and brought to you. All containers and rubbish are also collected by the staff, so put all containers back into the brown bags when you’ve finished eating, to again reduce contact.
Whilst it was a little daunting to take this first trip during the pandemic, I researched for some time before deciding where to go. I’m really pleased to have chosen Barbados. The rules are straight forward and it genuinely feels that by following the guidelines, we stand a chance of being able to enjoy travel and new cultures all over again.