Everything that Kaya travelers or potential participants need to know about travel during the COVID-19.
Frequently Asked Questions regarding travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Do I need to bring anything with me while traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic?
All participants are requested to bring sufficient face masks and alcohol-based hand sanitizer for the full duration of their stay. To reduce waste, we recommend bringing cloth face masks that can be washed and reused.
What if I feel ill during or after my trip?
If you feel ill or show any COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms during your placement, the on-site team will be on hand to ensure isolation procedures are followed and the necessary medical support is provided. Clear guidelines have been put in place in the instance of a positive COVID-19 case at all of our project locations. All team members of the on-site teams are trained on the procedures to follow. The on-site teams have extensive local knowledge and will be available 24/7 if you have any questions or concerns.
Likewise, if an on-site team member shows COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms they will not be allowed to attend work until a medical doctor has approved their return.
Should a government ruling require alternative actions (e.g. the use of government isolation centers), the onsite teams will have to adhere to the local government regulations and will support you throughout.
If you experience COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms within two weeks of leaving the project, avoid exposure to your own community until you are confirmed negative, and please contact the on-site team or your Kaya Placement Manager immediately, so we can inform anyone else you were in contact with during your stay.
How are you keeping communities safe?
Our joint responsibility is to minimize the risk of spreading any infections into the vulnerable communities we work with. Health and hygiene protocols have been put in place and enhanced cleaning procedures are taking place including frequency of cleaning and sanitization of private vehicles. Temperature checkpoints have been put in place throughout the majority of our placements. Face masks are compulsory for participants at all times within the community.
Anyone showing COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms will not be allowed on the project until approval is received from a local medical doctor.
Training and education on COVID-19 and associated health and safety procedures have been provided to our community partners.
Read more on Kaya Response to COVID-19, here.
What steps should I take to ensure my health and well-being?
It is important for you to be considerate of your own health before, during and after travel. As such, we recommend you follow local public health advice at all times and during your travels. Steps you should take including:
- Practice social distancing by avoiding large crowds and keeping a minimum of 2 metres (6 feet) from others.
- Practice good hygiene including washing your hands with soap on a regular basis, especially before eating or drinking, using a common space or coming into contact with commonly used items.
- Avoid touching other people.
- Cover any coughs and sneezes and dispose of tissues immediately and appropriately.
- Keep your hands away from your face as much as you can.
- Wear a face mask in all indoor settings or in crowded outdoor areas.
- Be prepared by bringing your own face masks and hand sanitizers for the duration of your stay abroad.
- Eat healthy and exercise to keep your body’s immune system at its optimum.
- Use contactless options wherever possible.
Is the risk of contracting a virus on a plane higher?
According to the International Air Transport Association, the risk is low as most modern aircraft supply air to the passenger cabin is either 100% fresh or a mixture of fresh and re-circulated filtered through a HEPA system making it 99.97% clean or better and used in surgical operating rooms. Aircrafts are also undergoing additional cleaning between journeys, but you can further ensure your safety by bringing along disinfectant wipes and using these on your armrests, tray tables and entertainment screens when you board your plane.
Are there any special entry requirements I should be aware of?
Kaya Placement Advisors and ground teams are kept informed on a daily basis of any new entry requirements specific to COVID-19. They will advise you accordingly so that you are aware of any specific requirements you need to prepare for before and when entering. Please do keep in mind that government regulations are constantly changing, and we ask you to remain flexible as airport measures might vary from what we are able to communicate with you at the specific time of your travel.
What kind of COVID testing do I need to travel?
There are essentially two types of COVID testing: Antigen Tests and Molecular/PCR Tests. Molecular tests also refer to as classic PCR test (commonly known as Rapid Diagnostic Testing) or PCR Lab Test (known as Diagnostic Lab Test) detect genetic material – the RNA – of the coronavirus and are sensitive enough to need only a very tiny amount of it. These are the tests that you will need to travel.
Antigen tests identify a person who is at or near peak infection. These type of tests are typically not accepted at the border controls for travel purpose unless listed by the local authorities.
For USA participants, we recommend you check your local pharmacy such as Walgreen to book your test.
For UK participants, we recommend you check provider names and cost available on the UK government website here.
Are there any special requirements I should be aware of before returning home?
Most international exit points will require you to have a PCR test before boarding your plane home. The on-site teams will assist you with scheduling your test prior to leaving the country to return home. Kaya Placement Advisors will keep you informed as the situation changes.
Is the use of a pool at the location safe?
The on-site swimming pools are treated with appropriate water treatments to kill germs and viruses and surfaces around the pool regularly sanitized. There has been no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through the use of swimming pools or other recreational water facilities. We recommend you follow social distance and safe swimming practices at all times to protect yourself.
What happens if I get ill on-site?
If you experience any suspected COVID-19 symptoms during your stay, arrangements will be made for private/single rooms for isolation purposes and a doctor arranged to examine you and carry out any tests. In case of a positive COVID-19 test, the necessary local authorities will be appraised of your condition and will advise on the next steps of treatments. If you have to isolate in a single room, you will be brought breakfast, lunch and dinner and taken care of to ensure nobody else gets ill. You may be required to self-isolate in a government facility. This is why it is essential you come prepared and with the appropriate travel insurance covering your health while abroad. You will be responsible for any additional cost incurred related to self-isolation including being moved to a private room, government facility, getting the appropriate tests, or staying in-country longer than planned.
Will I be able to purchase travel insurance?
We recommend you choose a comprehensive travel health insurance including coverage for costs incurred in case of contracting COVID-19 while abroad. We can provide you with details of some recommended insurance companies that can provide this.
Furthermore, we can also offer a Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) and Interruption For Any Reason (IFAR) insurance for those US participants wanting coverage for their program fees in the event that they find themselves in a position where they have to cancel or cut short their program for any reason.
Further reading available here.
What if I get sick before my trip?
If you are unable to travel due to experiencing COVID-19 or another medical emergency in the two weeks prior to your departure, we will discuss your options and look at your individual case supported by a medical certificate. Dates might be moved around based on availability in-country. Kaya will not be responsible for any incidental expenses that you may have incurred as a result of your delayed start date. We recommend you purchase your travel insurance as soon as possible and confirm what your insurance covers in case you need to cancel last minute.
I’m already fully vaccinated, do I still need to quarantine/follow the protocols?
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. However, it doesn’t protect others in case you are carrying the virus. More studies are being done on how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. In the meantime, you will still be required to quarantine and follow protocols by the destination, unless otherwise indicated. Following local laws as instructed by the on-site teams are essential to avoid any local legal ramifications, which might be different to the ones you are familiar with back home.
What happens if they close the borders? Will I be able to get home?
As we have learned this past year, borders closing are usually announced in advance. In this case, our on-site team will appraise our participants of their choices at the time, depending on the local government announcements. The worst-case scenario is to have to take a repatriation flight. These flights are organized by the airlines in coordination with the embassies abroad to bring citizens back to their country of origin. The in-country team will assist you in making your way back home. If you happen to have a different country of residence from your country of citizenship, we advise you to let your Kaya advisor know in advance of your trip to ensure we have all the necessary information prior to your trip abroad.
Which countries are the safest?
The global situation since the beginning of the pandemic has been ever-changing, so we cannot say for sure which countries are the safest. However, we have been taking a cautious approach and open locations responsibly and in the safest way possible measuring all the potential risks.
I see the borders are open to some of your locations, so why aren’t all of your projects?
The health and safety of our travelers and our local communities remain central to our planning as we reopen locations. We look at the big picture from the number of reported cases to COVID-19 mortality rates as well as accessibility to healthcare on-site and local government protocols in place. But we also look at social distancing feasibility on the projects, types of accommodations, nature of the projects, and overall cultural COVID-19 response.
I want to participate in a program in Africa but what about the South African variant?
It is worth noting that the new variants of the virus causing concerns have been first identified in major hubs including South Africa, United Kingdom and Brazil, and in those countries that had a harder time controlling the pandemic. Different countries in Africa have put in place different protocols from the early days of the pandemic, and some countries have had an amazing response, especially for the tourism sector in some instances. Unfortunately, variants will continue to spread despite travel restrictions.
Can I still go on weekend trips/excursions?
Indeed, weekend excursions may have been affected depending on the location. Many of our open locations have adopted a practice that you can’t go anywhere unless you have been in-country for at least 14 days. If weekend activities are a priority, speak to your Kaya advisor as they will advise you accordingly.
Will my experience still be as good, worthwhile and rewarding during this time?
Things are going to be different on-site from pre-COVID. In some ways, you will have the opportunity to have a more intimate experience, because there are fewer people on the ground. You may enjoy the scenery more as you discover some of the World’s most popular destinations less crowded (and wait less to take a photo!). The communities on-site have been greatly affected by the lack of participants on the ground, so your presence on-site will definitely be a meaningful and rewarding experience. Wildlife placements have a need for participants more than ever. Facilities are short-staffed and any additional support is greatly valued and appreciated. The social scene will be different as you may not be able to socialize as much or go out in the evening due to local curfews, but it won’t make your experience any less memorable.
What happens to my fee/payment if there is a ban on international travel?
In this case, you will have a couple of options. You may be able to delay your program with no additional fees and change your dates to preferred options depending on project availability. The second option if you are unable to reschedule your trip would be to cancel. In this last case, note the confirmation fee and balance is refundable at 50% refund less application fee and bank fees.
When do you think things will improve?
As we have seen so far, things are constantly changing. Vaccines are giving hopes that travel should return shortly as some countries are prioritizing certain industry sectors like tourism. Looking back, we have come quite far in a short space of time, and we anticipate more projects and countries will be able to recruit again in the upcoming months.
I’m under 18, are there any programs available to me at the moment?
The current COVID-19 pandemic is limiting our options for under 18s placement as we want to make sure that as a minor, you will receive the necessary amount of supervision and support needed. With that said, we have a few projects that are accepting under 18s in 2021 and we invite you to read which ones are available on our blog here.
How many Covid tests will I have to take during my whole experience?
This will depend on the location you are traveling to. Generally speaking, PCR tests are required before traveling and prior to your return home. So at least 2 PCR tests are asked. However, you might be asked at the airport to take another by the local authorities, or by the on-site team depending on the local country’s requirements. Costs vary from location to location.
My first choice of country isn’t available, where can I go?
We have written a blog with all the kaya program options for 2021, and it is updated on a regular basis. We invite you to read about what options are open here.
I want to go to a Spanish-speaking country, where can I go?
2021 placement options are available and updated on a regular basis here.