When the WHO declared the coronavirus pandemic, most countries shut down their borders to prevent the coronavirus from spread. Flights were permanently canceled because of the early assumption that COVID-19 spread through air-travel. Governments also prevented people from leaving their homes unless they had to get essentials or were deemed essential workers.
With the unexpected announcements of border closures and lockdowns around the globe, many people found themselves stranded abroad, including expats. Many were on vacation in their home country and could not return to their work country. Even long-term residents with children could not return home, because there were no flights, or the host country refused re-entry.
Those who are in their host country can still not leave to escape the coronavirus. There are even stories where people stuck in their host countries can’t travel back to their home country for a loved one’s funeral, not even when a loved one is terminally ill.
Because of these lockdowns, many people are in a state of shock and panic. Others feel like they may go insane, because they cannot go out or even step on their balconies or in their gardens.
If you find yourself stranded abroad and feel like everything is crazy, here are five tips to help you stay sane.
Keep Checking with the Airlines for Repatriation Flights
If you made your bookings directly with your preferred airline, check their website to find out the latest news. There are airlines that offer repatriation flights to help stranded passengers. Others will connect you to their regional or international partners to help you get back home.
Make sure that your contact details are up-to-date to ensure that you receive the latest updates as they happen, but don’t just wait around for the news. Call your airline frequently to check for the latest information.
Get in Touch with Your Embassy and Your Host Country Embassy
If you can’t get a flight, reach out to both your home and host country embassy. If you are a US citizen working in Thailand but are stuck in Malaysia, check with both the American embassy and the Thai embassy.
Some governments arrange repatriation flights for their citizens to help them get back home.
If you are stranded in another country, don’t panic.
The virus surprised all of us, and there are still a lot of unknowns. Governments are trying their best to help everyone out and protect their populations from the virus. Stay calm, so you can make rational decisions during these uncertain times.
- Make sure you have a shelter – extend your stay indefinitely with the hotel or Air BNB where possible.
- Make sure you have cash – call up your family and friends. Line up your resources and make sure you use international payment gateways ways like Western Union for wiring cash if needed.
- Make sure you stay safe – stay alert on the latest virus updates. Avoid crowded areas, wear a mask when you are out in public, wash your hands frequently and monitor your temperature daily. If you have a fever, they will not allow you to board a flight.
Find Expats and Travelers that Are in the Same Situation
You are not the only one stranded. Check your social media sites and look for groups and people in similar situations.
You will most likely find them online. Here you can exchange information, get clued-up about repatriation flights, where to get tested for COVID-19, or perhaps, what additional documents you may need in order to leave.
Seek Support From Those Stranded in the Same Location
During this time, everyone needs to get together, and if you need any help, look for people who are stranded in the same place as you are.
They may help you find temporary accommodations while you are waiting for a flight home, or even help you reach out to your embassy or airline.
If you find yourself stranded abroad for any reason, don’t panic! Panicking will only make things worse and cause you to make poor decisions. Do your research and see what avenues are open for you to take. During this pandemic, it is important to make smart decisions while staying safe. We will get past this, and eventually, we shall go back home to our families.
Written by: Kally Tay