Once borders open, where's the safest place to go?

We're learning to find our feet again. Overseas travel is getting closer, but it's not going to be the same as it was pre-pandemic, and that calls for a re-think and different strategies, with health at the forefront.

The infection rates experienced in much of the world are astronomically greater than we've seen here, and Australians have better reasons than most to protect themselves from COVID-19 overseas. If you do get sick, you're probably a long way from home, and no airline is going to uplift an infected passenger.

First off, chances are your passport has been gathering dust so check the validity. Some countries and airlines require a passport with an expiry date at least six months beyond the date of return to Australia.

Unless your destination is somewhere in the South Pacific you're probably facing a long flight, and the longer the flight, the greater the chance of infection. Aircraft have highly effective filtration systems that refresh the cabin air every few minutes, but there have been cases of COVID-19 transmission on board and possibly in airports.

You might want a more effective face covering than a surgical mask and N95 respirator masks, commonly known as P2 masks in Australia, are the gold standard. They fit snug around the mouth and nose and help block fine particle droplets. Some have valves and they're more comfortable to wear for long periods. An alternative is the KN95 mask, which is the Chinese standard for close-fitting filtration devices.

Countries with high vaccination rates and low infections have a lot of appeal right now. Norway, Romania and Greece have lower infection rates than Spain, France and the UK, while Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam are lower still.

More than 70 per cent of the eligible populations of Denmark, Singapore, Malta, Spain, Iceland and Portugal have been fully vaccinated.

If your travels coincide with the autumn/winter flu season, make sure you're vaccinated, and specialist travellers' clinics should be able to provide the latest vaccine.

Self-contained accommodation presents fewer risks than a hotel. That puts a charter boat in the Greek islands in the sweet spot, or how about piloting a narrowboat along Britain's canals? For the same reason, holidays based around hiking, cycling and water sports make a lot of sense right now.

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