Travelling during COVID

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By Hani Zul Fossum 

I recently made a mad dash to San Francisco in the US earlier this month as a final prerequisite to get my Green Card. I bought the ticket a couple of days before travelling and it was not as expensive as I had thought it would be, there was also no cancellation and each flight left on time. Travelling during COVID times was different to the time when we used to travel during pre-COVID days. With Omicron, restrictions had changed drastically and so it was not a decision that my American husband and I made very lightly but I decided to put my fears aside and go on this trip, in order to get my Green Card.

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For example, now, anyone intending to travel to the US would have to get themselves tested against COVID-19 at least 24 hours before they travel. I ended up taking the PCR test – twice.
Fortunately, my flight to the US was rather smooth.
I flew there via Narita, Tokyo, and had an hour transit before heading to San Francisco. All in the journey took about a day from my base in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Once I was on American soil, there was no drama at the immigration department in the US given that I am just validating my Green Card – the process was finalised within minutes.
Once that was done and dusted, I had three days of ‘me time’ so I ended up doing Christmas shopping and I roamed around the city.
Due to the severity of the situation, I decided to travel alone to get my Green Card sorted whilst leaving my family including my two young daughters behind. 
I had a good time shopping at their premium outlets which was a 45 minutes drive from downtown and even had time to squeeze in a visit to the famous Swan Oyster Depot and explored some of their famous landmarks such as their museum.
Before heading home to Malaysia, I had to do another COVID test. It was then I found out of the Malaysian Government’s request of doing a PCR test 48 hours prior to my departure to KL.
So, I ended up taking a PCR test at a lab in San Francisco one morning, two days before my flight back to KL was due. 
To get the results within an hour, I paid USD250.
After taking the test, I went on a joyride on their famous cable cars and walked some more around their beautiful city.

I was only in the US for three days and when I came back to KL, I was requested to do another PCR test at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, thankfully, my results came out negative.
This test is free for Malaysians but for foreigners the fee is RM250. 
Then I had to fulfil the requirement of doing a seven day home quarantine. This had to be applied and approved by the authorities before one arrives on Malaysian soil. The application can be made through the Ministry of Health’s website. Once you are free to leave the airport, the authorities will then provide you with either a pink bracelet or a digital tracking which you can only remove once you are done with your home quarantine. Yes, that meant I used it in the shower, too!
After five days into the home quarantine, I was requested by the authorities to do another PCR test, thankfully the results turned out to be negative. It was also at this time that one of the representatives at the clinic would advise you as to where you should go to dismantle the tracking device once you are done with your home quarantine.
I got my approval letter on the eight day and it was all clear that my tracking device was ready to be removed and I had to dismantle it at the Petaling Jaya Centre. 
In conclusion, I think travelling during COVID times requires a lot of planning and preparation beforehand and one will be required to do a lot of swab tests- both in your home country and your intended place of travel.

Editors’ Note: Have you recently travelled during COVID? We would like to hear your experience and thoughts on how travel can be improved! Write and tell us your experience and suggestions at and oh yes, don’t forget to send us some pictures too. 

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