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Domestic Travel During COVID-19: SOPs, Transportation & Accommodation

Travelling within Malaysia? Plan your steps before, during and after your domestic travel during COVID-19.

by Jo-Kym New

Nicknamed Asia’s cultural melting pot, our multiracial country Malaysia boasts rich and diverse heritage treasures. From the food haven of Penang to sunset cruises in Langkawi, it’s no wonder some choose to explore locally for a weekend getaway. Furthermore, many Malaysians are feeling safer about domestic travelling as interstate borders reopen and more people are vaccinated. 

Are you among those planning a little local adventure? Whether you are travelling for business purposes or travelling with families and friends, it’s essential to get your facts checked. Here’s what you need to know before, during and after your local trip.

Before Your Domestic Travel

As you prepare to venture away from home, consider these few things for your travel during COVID-19: SOPs, transportation, and accommodation. 

1. Get your vaccine or booster shot

First things first, are you and those tagging along for the local trip vaccinated against COVID-19? 

The relaxed restrictions only apply to those who are fully vaccinated and their children aged 17 years and under. This is because COVID-19 vaccinations are effective in preventing you from being infected by the life-threatening disease. At the same time, it would greatly minimise the risk of transmission when all members are vaccinated. 

Have you considered getting a booster shot? Booster shots help increase your immune response and improve protection against COVID-19, including the new variants. Our medical escort will keep your loved one safe and sound, every step of the way.

2. Test for COVID-19

Did you know that there is still a possibility of getting COVID-19 even if you are fully vaccinated? While the vaccine significantly reduces the chances of hospitalisation and death, a fully vaccinated individual may still contract and spread COVID-19 to others. 

Hence, the responsibility is yours to get screened and test negative for COVID-19, even just for a local trip. 

You may opt for screening at government or private health facilities near you. Check out the list provided on MOH’s website. Alternatively, you can also get tested in the comfort of your own home with Homage’s in-home swab test.

Need an RTK-Ag or PCR test? Fill this form and our Care Advisors will reach out to you within 24-hours!

3. Check your condition

Your health and safety matter. Because prevention is better than cure, people belonging to any of these high-risk groups may want to opt-out of travelling during COVID-19:

  • People who are older than 60 years
  • People with health conditions that affect their immune system

If you feel you are fit to travel despite your condition, purchase travel insurance to safeguard your finances. Be vigilant to check for pandemic-related terms and conditions. If possible, secure a package that covers illness-related cancellations during your holiday. 

4. Organise your transportation

Next, plan your mode of transportation carefully beforehand. Are you travelling by train, plane, bus or car to and fro your destination? 

Generally, it’s best practice to limit your exposure to others during your travels. As the holiday seasons tend to be the peak period, you may expect more people on the shuttles and commutes. As a result, it might be harder to maintain a two-metre distance. Having said that, if you do choose to use public transportation, check the latest COVID-19 guidelines provided by the authorities to be safe.

If you are a large group travelling together on your local trip, try renting a vehicle and driving your car. A plus point is that it gives you flexibility as you explore around the area. 

You should note however that different states in Malaysia have different travelling restrictions when entering their premises. If you’re travelling by road to Langkawi, for example, you would need to use the services of a travel agency. If you’re travelling to Sarawak, you’ll need to fill an e-Health Declaration Form (e-HDF) among other documents to submit.

5. Book your accommodation

Hotel, Airbnb or homestay? Any shared space comes with an increased risk of COVID-19. 

Check the COVID-19 situation of your travel destination in advance before you head over. Make sure to stay on top of the latest updates before heading to your accommodation, too. Check out the myGovernment portal for the detailed SOPs of the different states.

Additionally, it’ll be a good idea to enquire about their sanitation protocols and safety measures on the website before you make your reservation. Most established hotels should have stringent measures and disinfection processes in place. Some Airbnbs and homestays provide cleaning services at a cost, so spend the extra ringgit for your safety and that of your members. 

6. Make a travel itinerary 

To make this a well-planned vacation during COVID-19, prepare your itinerary ahead of time. It can help make your travelling much less stressful. If you are planning to visit several tourist attractions, call them up first to find out if they will be open during your visit. Find out what is required to avoid being turned away upon arrival.

As the restrictions may change whilst you travel, be prepared to amend your checklist. The most important thing though is to make sure everyone is having a good time. So be flexible and have fun!

7. Create a shared checklist

Besides an itinerary, create a shared checklist with the people you are travelling with. This helps you to collectively prioritise only the essentials and keep your bags lightweight. Your masks, sanitisers and vaccination card should by default be at the top of the list. If you have any health conditions, add your medications and supplies to your list as well.

If you aren’t a pen-and-paper type of person, find packing apps online like One Bag or PackTeo.  Another cool tool you could download is Splitwise which allows you to calculate and split expenses.

During Your Domestic Travel

Travelling in the new normal may be different, but you can still make it worthwhile if you adapt to the changes. Adhere to the mandatory SOPs set in place for your safety.

1. Practise SOPs at all times

Strictly speaking, the SOPs in place remain the same no matter where you are on your vacation during COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser.
  • Wear your 3- or 4-ply face masks in public or double-mask, when necessary.
  • Maintain a safe distance of two metres always.

Another way your group can protect itself against COVID-19 is to minimise time at—or avoid—poorly-ventilated or crowded places. Moreover, you can take the stairs instead of taking the lift to minimise contact.

2. Fill your plate with nutritious food

Just as our vehicles need petrol to run, our bodies need nutrition to keep going. For this reason, choose to eat right. It may be tempting to eat a Maggi cup or finger food to save time during your vacation, but that does your body more harm than good. 

If you have a health condition like diabetes, be sure to manage your diet with care and moderation this holiday. Look for freshly cooked food with vegetables, white meat and whole grains. Keep yourself hydrated with plenty of water and not alcoholic or sweetened beverages. 

3. Get plenty of rest

Since travelling requires lots of movement and activities, it can be physically and mentally exhausting for some. That’s why it’s important to give your body what it needs to recuperate. 

One simple way is to clock in as much rest as you can get. Many people find it a challenge to sleep when travelling, but without sleep, we experience discomforts like headaches or stiffness. Get some shut-eye on your commutes, during break times and any chance you can get.

After Your Domestic Travel

After returning from your domestic travel, you may want to take extra precautionary steps to benefit yourself and those around you:

1. Continue self-monitoring

Popular destinations will most likely have a lot of visitors and this increases your exposure to COVID-19. To keep you and your housemates safe, stay home and monitor yourself for any symptoms for at least 2 weeks. 

Other than that, check your local authorities for the latest and most accurate information regarding travel requirements. 

2. See a doctor if you don’t feel well

It’s fairly common to fall sick after a long vacation however it’s best not to leave any room for assumptions, especially during COVID-19. If you are experiencing fever, cough or runny nose, see a doctor immediately at a nearby health facility for further examination.

Inform the medical professional about your domestic travel and other relevant whereabouts. Follow the specific instructions provided, that is if you need to self-quarantine or isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.

Keeping safe in the new normal

From planning your transport and accommodation to practising SOPs and self-monitoring after your travel, go the extra mile to protect yourself and those around travel during COVID-19. Think you can remember all these important steps? Here’s an image you can download on your mobile so you don’t miss anything.

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References
  1. Alhadjri, A. (2021, August 8). PM unveils relaxed rules for people fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Malaysiakini. Retrieved from https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/586374 
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, November 9). The Possibility of COVID-19 after Vaccination: Breakthrough Infections. CDC.gov. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/effectiveness/why-measure-effectiveness/breakthrough-cases.html 
  3. FAQ Covid-19. (2021). Retrieved from https://mysejahtera.malaysia.gov.my/FAQcovid19_en/ 
  4. Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia. (2021, November 27). Senarai Hospital dan Klinik Swasta Untuk Saringan COVID-19. Retrieved from https://covid-19.moh.gov.my/ 
  5. Malaysia lifts travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people. (2021). Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/malaysia-lifts-travel-restrictions-fully-vaccinated-people-2021-10-10/ 
  6. Ng. R. C. (2021, September 11). Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The Langkawi Travel Bubble Before You Go. KLFoodie.com. Retrieved from https://klfoodie.com/langkawi-travel-bubble-sept-2021-sop/ 
  7. WHO Western Pacific. (2021). COVID-19 advice – High risk groups. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/covid-19/information/high-risk-groups 
About the Writer
Jo-Kym New
Jo-Kym is an inbound marketer who is deeply passionate about mental health and family relationships. Her creative outlets are journalling, mobile photography, food and fashion.
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