What if I test positive for COVID-19 while traveling abroad?

Middle school science teacher Stephanie Guggenheim was preparing to return to Illinois from a week-long family vacation through Spain – the last hurray before the start of the school year.

As all passengers must do before entering the United States from abroad, she and her family took a quick COVID-19 test in Barcelona the day before their flight in August. Her father’s test came negative. Her sister’s test came negative. His was positive.

“The lady who gave us the test gave us their clearance form,” says Guggenheim, who was vaccinated at the time. He looked at me and said, ’10 days. ‘I was shocked. ”

Spain did not have the last hope that evening. Instead, he rushed to reschedule his flight when his family bought supplies to deliver him through an unexpected quarantine. And the next day, his family returned to the United States, leaving 27-year-old Guggenheim alone in a hotel room for 10 days without any human contact, without knocking on anyone’s door.

There was a crash course on what happened if you tested positive for Covid-1 for while traveling abroad.

What happens when you test positive

The cost of getting Covid-1 abroad এবং and the process of dealing with it-varies from country to country, and often from region to region.

Guggenheim was lucky (as much as possible at the time of the positive test) because he was in Barcelona, ​​which runs the “health hotel” needed for self-isolation. The Spanish government bears the cost of its hotel, which was a small room with a twin bed and a mini porch that can be seen down the street. If he needed to get the bill, a 10-day stay could easily cost him more than 800 800 (food according to NerdWallet’s analysis of having a dozen hotels on budget property in Barcelona).

See also: Google Flight lets travelers see their carbon footprint – but can you believe it?

Similarly, traveler Rally Peterkin, who tested positive in January 2021, had a similarly unfortunate moment. Peterkin, who was bound for Turkey with a stopover in the United States, tested positive the day before he left Costa Rica.

Costa Rica needs irresistible tourists to buy travel insurance. Ever since he was vaccinated, he has not been. And so – while Peterkin doesn’t usually buy travel insurance – he swindled more than 30 30 for it.

But he wasn’t sure what would be reimbursed (if anything), so Peterkin said he still tried to cut costs instead of ordering separate meals and wanted to stay in luxury hotels during his separation. When he submitted a receipt worth about 2,000 2,000, he said he was finally grateful to receive a 1,000 check back from his insurance company.

Here are some of the challenges Guggenheim and Peterkin faced due to their extended presence:


Since the government covered rooms and boards, Guggenheim had some costs in addition to the hotel laundry service in Spain.

Staying in the hostel was even more challenging for Peterkin. Upon learning of the positive test, the hostel owner told him to leave, so Peterkin tried to find a place that would accommodate him and eventually get a vacation rental. Since there is no laundry detergent, he defaults to laundry in the sink with dish soap.

What to expect: Of course costs will vary by location, but it’s not unreasonable to expect budget hotels to pay at least 100 100 per night if you have to increase your stay. It can be over $ 1,000 in 10 nights.

Read: Carnival expects to use 100% capacity in the spring, to re-launch more cruises from U.S. ports in January and February


Guggenheim, who is a vegetarian, said he was impressed that his hotel even provided meat-free meals. Guggenheim said he did not remember the quality of the food because he had lost his sense of smell within three days of quarantine.

Considering he was on vacation rent, Peterkin relied on a food delivery service. He usually orders only two meals a day to reduce the delivery fee.

What to expect: It is not unreasonable to expect to pay-15- $ 20 per delivery meal while in quarantine. So you have to factor in the hundreds of dollars for food.


Guggenheim expected a work-free vacation and didn’t bring a laptop. But because of her upcoming solo quarantine, her family bought her a laptop at the Apple Store in Barcelona so she could prepare for her upcoming school year. In addition, the scope of his entertainment involved a cat wandering through the hallways of his hotel.

Peterkin, who works remotely as a writer and podcaster, said he was relatively productive, though annoyed.

“Excluding that, I did push-ups just to keep myself busy,” he says.

What to expect: Buying a laptop can seem overwhelming, if you are abroad, you want to at least think about what you are doing to pass the time if you can’t get out. Do you need to be able to work from your hotel room? Do you have a book or electronics that you can get during the quarantine period?


Both Guggenheim and Peterkin rescheduled their initial flights. Most airlines have added flexible changes and cancellation policies since the epidemic. Both said they would not have to pay a change fee, although they both differentiated between last-minute, more expensive airfare between their original airfare.

Peterkin’s situation was complicated because his final destination was Turkey, he had a stopover in the United States, but he booked flights separately. His insurance included air fares from Costa Rica to the United States, but he had a difference in the fare for scheduled flights to Turkey.

What to expect: Re-booking a flight can be expensive, as you are usually on the hook for the fare difference, which is going to be even greater when you are re-booking closer to your new quarantine departure date than the actual flight. Probably booked well ahead of time. These costs can easily be in the hundreds of dollars.

Medical expenses

Guggenheim said his symptoms যা which were originally placed in mid-segregation ছিল were mild, which is why he was responsible for the vaccination. Peterkin said he was asymptomatic. But for travelers in severe cases, unexpected hospital bills can be costly.

In addition, for Guggenheim to return to the United States, both needed clearance, which went to a doctor who wrote a note stating that he was completely healed.

Peterskin had negative test results in the United States. Since the test in the area costs 90 90, he waited 10 days despite being asymptomatic to give a good guarantee of a negative test – thus ensuring that he would not lose দ্বিতীয় 90 in a second positive test.

What to expect: This can be a huge variable depending on how sick (or not) you get. Everything from paying for the Covid-1 test to the increased cost of the hospital may be needed depending on your country.

How to prepare for the possibility of getting Kovid abroad

“I know the vaccine is not to relieve you of the illness, but to keep your symptoms mild,” Guggenheim said. “Still, I was shocked that I tested positive and my family tested negative.”

Guggenheim said he was probably aware of the illness. “But you never think it will happen to you until it happens,” he says.

Here’s how to prepare in the hope that you can test positive:

Understand your existing medical insurance and consider buying trip insurance

US-based medical insurance providers usually do not cover treatment while you are abroad, so always contact your insurer to see if it provides coverage for international travel. If not, consider buying travel medical insurance. Although it does not usually cover routine expenses, it can cover emergency medical expenses, whether it is breaking your leg on a ski trip or ending up in the hospital with Covid-1.

Pay with certain travel credit cards

Some travel credit cards offer numerous travel insurance benefits, including travel cancellation, medical and medical removal coverage. While this is usually a benefit of a premium travel credit card (which often has an annual fee in return of $ 500), it may be best to hold one of these cards if you test positive.

See also: Studies have shown that if Kovid-1 from the summer could have prevented the deaths of 1,000,000 U.S. adults,

It is common for these cards to be reimbursed at least $ 5,000 to $ 20,000, unless the original card was made on the same card. Instead of buying a separate trip insurance policy, your credit card may have adequate coverage from Travel Insurance. Terms vary by card, but often they can refund you if someone else at your travel party tests positively (even if you don’t).

Book with airlines and hotels that have flexible policies

Yet relying on insurance can be frustrating. You will usually still need to pay in advance and submit a receipt for reimbursement. Peterkin said it took about a dozen phone calls and several months before his insurer sent him his $ 1,000 check.

To avoid the need for a refund for a missed flight or canceled hotel room at the next stage of your trip, book with travel providers with flexible changes and cancellation policy. Although airline and hotel cancellation policies have improved, not all are so liberal. For example, fares in many basic economies are unchanging, so what looks like cheap airfare can be a drowning cost.

Is international travel a good idea to risk a positive test for Covid-1 for?

It depends on who asked you the question. Guggenheim says that in insight, he wants to choose a family vacation.

“If you want to be healthy in your bed, don’t travel outside your own country,” he says. “The delta is alive and well. Our vaccines are helpful and I am grateful that I am not very sick, but they are not curable.

Peterkin, on the other hand, did not let the quarantine of Costa Rica stop him. Since then, he has traveled to more than a dozen countries, even receiving his first AstraZeneca vaccine in Montenegro and a second dose in Romania.

“I’m happy to be able to travel,” he says. “The refund from my trip insurance was on the cake.”

That said, Peterkin hasn’t bought trip insurance since traveling to Costa Rica.

“I should probably get it,” he says. “I think I’m a little reckless.”

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Sally wrote for French NerdWallet. Email: Twitter: AF SF Media.

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