How to handle the anxiety of testing for covid for travel

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A positive coronavirus test may end the holiday before it begins. If you are afraid of a positive test before the upcoming trip, you are in good company. So do the rest of us.

Some countries will not let you go without a negative result, others will. But as the omicron subvariant spreads in Europe, everything may change in an instant.

“Anxiety testing is perfectly understandable,” says Rajeev Shrivastava, the company’s CEO Visitor coverage, travel insurance market. “The key is to plan.”

Although no one can guarantee the result of your test, there are ways to ensure that you get results faster. And there are several coping strategies that can help you deal with the concerns of coronavirus testing before you travel.

As for coronavirus testing anxiety, I have first-hand experience. At the beginning of the Omicron wave, I found myself in Doha, Qatar. I enjoyed a few relaxing days on the Souq Waqif, riding the new subway and exploring the dunes. Before leaving, I took a PCR test, which was requested by my next stop, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and I waited for the results.

Test results were not shown. I was walking around a hotel room in Al Najad. I could not fall asleep. I stopped eating. Hamad General Hospital, where PCR tests were performed, was found to experience understandable processing delays. (Spoiler: I missed the flight waiting for the results, but I got to Abu Dhabi the next day.)

There are better ways to manage this kind of anxiety. Colleen Cira, a clinical psychologist specializing in trauma, recommends eliminating as much speculation as possible on the front end. For example, order a quick PCR test, even if it costs extra.

“Find out exactly how long it will take for the results to return – and get them in writing,” says Cira. “Often people who answer the phone may not be quite clear or are so busy that they have trouble listening well. Take the time to research to make sure you book the right test in the right place, which helps ensure you have what you need when you need it. ”

Rapid PCR tests can be expensive, but they are worth it. When I flew from San Francisco to the Azores island of São Miguel in November, I took three PCR tests: two free, offered by a public clinic in Los Angeles, and a second rapid PCR test, which cost about $ 120. Only a rapid PCR test provided results in time.

Timing can be a factor in other ways as well. Tracy Schatz, owner Elite Travel Journeysadvises its clients to avoid traveling on Mondays as weekends may cause delays. “A friend’s daughter, who traveled abroad for a semester, recently got into this dilemma when her result from Friday’s test did not return in time for her Monday’s departure,” she recalls. Luckily, they found a device that would do a quick PCR test, and she flew away.

Comprehensive travel insurance can also increase your peace of mind, says Jennifer Rubinstein, a travel consultant Get on board, luxury travel agency. “Especially nowadays, circumstances can change immediately, forcing passengers to change their travel plans. Although some hotels have been flexible about changing dates, this is not always the case. ” Allianz Have a 24/7 help desk that will find you a testing center when you are away from home.

So what could make you even more nervous than a last-minute coronavirus test? If that doesn’t work. If you have not left the house, it is a great inconvenience, but you can always put it off, isolate and travel later.

If you are at the finish line, you may be injured in the world. Then planning ahead really pays off. Before you leave, consult an knowledgeable travel advisor who can help you find a hotel with a coronavirus test center or isolation options. If you are planning to travel to more than one destination, ask your travel advisor to obtain this information for each potentially isolated place. Knowing your options before you leave can alleviate some of your worries.

Jaime Zuckerman, a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders, argues that a positive test result can hit travelers particularly hard. “It’s a feeling of anxiety, anger and disappointment,” he says. “But if you have a positive test, at least you know what that means you can start taking steps forward to plan and regroup.”

If you’ve taken all these steps – you’ve secured your trip, done a quick PCR test, and developed a contingency plan – you can get rid of some worries. But not everything.

Jean Holthaus, a therapist who treats anxiety disorders, he says, feeling nervous is normal, even without a pandemic. This is because traveling carries risks.

“Our bodies are designed to feel anxious in response to external threats that could harm us,” he says. “This means that you experience normal anxiety when you think about the increased risks that are currently associated with travel or the possibility of disrupting your travel plans.”

If you have done everything you can to minimize the risk of traveling, you must accept what you cannot influence.

“Recognizing anxiety is important and will help you relax and engage in strategies to manage it,” says Holthaus.

This can be the hardest part of coping with coronavirus testing: accepting that the outcome may not depend on you. I’m still working on that part.

Potential passengers should consider local and national public health guidelines regarding the pandemic before planning any journeys. Travel health information can be found on the interactive map of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which shows travel recommendations according to destination and the CDC travel health warning website.

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