After being away from survey travel for more than a year, it was an experience getting readjusted while simultaneously learning the new processes of international pandemic travel. Though some may say we are post-pandemic, others will say this is our new normal. Nevertheless, it’s altered how we travel, as it has changed how we live in general. My trip to Philipsburg, St. Maarten this past August revealed to me the different ways other countries are coping with our new life with COVID-19 and reminded me of the joy, the stress, the exhaustion, and the thrill of being onsite for survey.
Back to Travel
One thing that has been amplified thanks to COVID-19, is that anything can happen at any time. We knew there was a possibility of long anticipated travel but given the new variant and a rise in cases in the US again I couldn’t be sure until my plane ticket itinerary was in my email ready to go. By Monday, with exactly 72 hours to spare there was a ticket in my inbox with my name on it.
Presently, before going to any country one must check travel restrictions and requirements, the same way one would check for necessary visas. For St. Maarten, I had to fill out a travel authorization form which included proof of a negative COVID-19 test at least 72 hours prior to departure. With these crucial 72 hours to spare, I booked my 48-hour rapid COVID-19 test. When I got my results, I uploaded the full lab report results and got my approval right before I boarded the plane to St. Maarten in New Jersey! Thank God for layovers. If that’s not a welcome back to onsite survey, I don’t know what is.
On survey, I experienced a few COVID-19 adjustments. On arrival, the biggest change was a health check which included rechecking your authorization form and negative COVID-19 test before moving onto immigration. And of course, everyone wore a mask. Operating on the island for survey, however, was standard. Luckily, walking up and down grocery store aisles for hours wasn’t anymore abnormal than usual despite a pandemic. The real difference was entry into stores. Before I entered any outlet, I was immediately directed to hand sanitizer. One grocery store, Market Garden, went so far as having a hand washing station at the door. Every establishment had someone at the door to ensure sanitization took place. For my return home, getting a rapid COVID-19 test was easily accessible as my hotel had a test center, although I will say it was never checked during my re-entry in the US. The real shock of the whole survey, however, was more in the cost of food rather than restrictions.
Come back to the AIRSHARE blog next week for Part Two!