What is Quarantine Package? Good idea for international travel? - eNidhi India Travel Blog

What is Quarantine Package? Good idea for international travel?

Of late I am seeing lots of ads about Quarantine Packages. So made an attempt to understand what is a quarantine package and if it is worth planning an international trip using the same.

What is quarantine package?

Since the raise of second wave, many countries do not allow direct flights from India and have restricted Indians from visiting their countries. Saudi Arabia, Canada are some such countries. However travel agencies have found a loophole in this restriction or let us say even destination countries are OK with this shortcut.

There are many countries accepting Indian nationals as of now- Srilanka, UAE, Mauritius, Serbia, Egypt, Muscat etc. If you visit these countries, quarantine yourself for 7 to 14 days and prove that you don't have corona (RT-PCR test) then you can take a flight to your original intended country- such as Canada or Saudi Arabia.

How quarantine package works?

  • You book your fight ticket from India to intermediate country (Srilanka or UAE etc)
  • You buy a quarantine package designed for this intermediate country
  • Travel agency will provide airport transfer, 7 or 14 day hotel stay, RTPCR test, Transit Visa and most of the taxes
  • Once you finish your quarantine period, you will be subjected to RT-PCR test. Assuming it comes negative, you will be allowed to board your next flight to final destination (Ex: Canada). Because you're not flying in direct from India, your destination country won't have any problem accepting you.
  • Note: Quarantine package doesn't include flight cost and cost of rescheduling your flights. Also they don't cover the risk of hospitalization or other covid related risks.
What are the risks?
  1. What if your test results turn positive? If your RT-PCR comes up negative, you should extend your stay and get corona treatment or additional quarantine at your own expense and reschedule your pending flights. This will add to your overall cost, so be prepared for this eventuality and have buffer cash to handle this.
  2. Some countries also require you to quarantine as a precautionary measure- say someone sitting a row ahead of you in the flight tests positive- if this happens again you will have to follow whatever rules intermediate country has for this scenario.
  3. Getting Visa: Getting Visa for destination country saying "I will quarantine myself in Dubai and then come to Canada" seems little odd to me. If you already have a visa for final destination or some very urgent/genuine reason then you can try this route.
  4. What if direct flight opens up: You book a Canada via Dubai quarantine package but say from Next month Canada accepts Indians through direct flights- then lots of unnecessary time and money wasted on quarantine package.
Should I go for quarantine package?
As a tourist, I don't see risks and expenses outweighing the advantage of visiting a new country. I would rather wait for better clarity, policy and direct flights.  But if you have to travel because of other reasons - work, family, business etc then this route seems a good try.

Cost of Quarantine Package:
Cost of a quarantine package is a direct function of how many nights you will have to spend in intermediate country. If it is Dubai just 1 night is enough so quarantine package costs 14k per person. If it is via Srilanka or Muscat you may have to spend more nights before being allowed to your final destination so package cost will go up. A 15 day package can cost you 60-65k easily. Providing a hostel or budget hotel would have made it cheaper but as of now quarantine packages are only made with luxury hotels for better margins. If there are 2 people, travel agencies simply double the price. But it should be ideally cheaper as hotel and taxi expense gets shared between two people.

Whom to approach for quarantine packages?
Most existing travel agents are beginning to provide quarantine package now. It is nothing but airport transfer + hotel stay that they were anyway providing + an RT-PCR test thrown in. You may be able to manage without a package as well- hotel and airport transfer you can manage on your own, once you land you've to figure out where to get Covid test done just in time for your final flight.

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