Do I Need to Take a COVID Test Before Traveling?
There is much debate surrounding COVID travel testing. Some people believe it’s unnecessary due to the decline in high transmission rates. Others believe that not getting tested puts everyone – including yourself – at risk.
So, who’s right? In this post, we’ll discuss why COVID travel testing is important and how our Bellingham testing laboratory, ARCpoint Labs of Bellingham, makes staying safe a whole lot easier whether you’re prepping for a cruise, a visit to our Northern neighbor, for a flight cross county, or a road trip down the coast.
Why You Should Still Test for COVID Before Traveling
In the age of COVID, travel testing has become an important consideration for anyone planning a trip and has continued to be strongly recommended by health experts. Here are five reasons why it’s important to get yourself tested for COVID-19 before traveling:
1. To protect yourself and your loved ones from potential exposure to COVID.
Getting a COVID test before traveling can protect yourself and your loved ones from potential exposure to COVID. This is especially true during the holidays when you may be seeing family for the first time all year – or even since the onset of the pandemic.
Those with immunocompromised or elderly family members should be especially cautious regarding COVID. It’s always better to be safe than sorry and ensure a negative test before embarking!
2. To help contain the spread of COVID by identifying individuals who may have been exposed.
Getting a test before traveling is also important because it helps identify individuals exposed to COVID and may not have even realized it. It helps contain the spread of COVID among travelers and local communities – a true win-win.
3. To ensure that you receive proper treatment if you do test positive for COVID.
Fortunately, recovering from COVID today is much more manageable than at the beginning of the pandemic. With access to vaccines and treatments, individuals don't become as ill, and those who test positive can now receive proper care.
If you test positive for COVID before a trip, you must seek advice from a medical professional to ensure you receive the right treatment. In some cases, this may include starting the treatment right away. Also, it's important to remember that if your travel plans are within 14 days of testing positive, you will need to self-isolate until you can test positive.
4. To ease your mind about potential risks associated with travel.
Traveling during the pandemic can be stressful, especially with the added uncertainty of not knowing if you have been exposed to and may be carrying COVID-19. Getting a COVID test can help ease your mind and reduce any stress associated with your travels.
But, even with a negative COVID test in hand, it's still important to follow all safety protocols, such as wearing a mask, frequent hand washing, and social distancing to minimize your risk while traveling.
5. To travel to certain destinations.
In many cases, having a negative COVID test may still be required to travel to certain international destinations if you’re unvaccinated. These include:
Additionally, attempting to board a cruise is likely impossible without a negative COVID test, even if you’re fully vaccinated. This is due to the close contact you have with other travelers aboard a boat, which could easily become a hot spot for COVID to spread.
If you're planning a trip soon, be sure to research travel testing requirements and options to make informed decisions about your health and safety.
How to Test for COVID Before Traveling
When Do I Need a COVID Test Before Traveling?
In short, it’s best to have yourself tested as close to the time of departure as possible. With results available from 15 minutes to a few days, it’s best to take a COVID test no more than three days before departure.
What Are My COVID Travel Test Options?
When it comes to travel testing, there are several types of tests available. You can choose either an antigen test or a PCR test - both of which provide reliable results.
COVID-19 Antigen Test
Antigen tests detect the presence of antigens from the virus in your nose and throat. These tests are quick and easy to administer, providing results in just 15 minutes. Best used five days after exposure, or sooner, if symptomatic.
It’s important to note that although convenient, antigen testing isn’t always accepted as a negative result. Additionally, the antigen test may need to be completed in a certain timeframe before your trip.
COVID-19 PCR Test
PCR tests detect the genetic material of the virus. While they can provide more reliable results than antigen tests, they take a bit longer to process. Rapid PCR tests offer results in a few hours, and standard PCR tests offer results in two to five business days.
As with anything involving your health and testing, be sure to conduct your research or even speak to one of our lab technicians for help choosing the best one for your trip.
Do I Need to Test After Arriving? What About Coming Home?
Even with an N95 mask on your face and a bottle of hand sanitizer by your side, there is a chance you could still be exposed to the virus while traveling. That's why getting tested after you arrive at your destination and before returning home is also important.
If you test positive after you arrive, notify and follow the instructions of local health authorities and self-isolate until you recover or are medically cleared as non-infectious.
Where to Get Your COVID Test in Bellingham
Once you decide to get tested for COVID before traveling out of Bellingham, turn to ARCpoint Labs of Bellingham for help. At our testing laboratory, it's easy to stay safe while still having fun on your next trip.
We are conveniently located and offer accurate results. Our lab technicians can also answer any questions regarding COVID-19 testing and provide any additional direction you need for your individual or commercial trip!
We understand how important it is to enjoy the holidays with family or take that much-needed break away from home – which is why we provide easily accessible test results, flexible hours open both to appointments and walk-ins alike, and a contactless QR code check-in process!
Don’t let COVID stop your next trip. Schedule your COVID-19 test in Bellingham today!