News Domestic and overseas travel: Latest answers to your top questions

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Domestic and overseas travel: Latest answers to your top questions

Times are tough for travellers. But with the world preparing to reopen in 2021, we're here to keep you dreaming and planning for your next adventure - whether that's a staycation or flying off to parts unknown. Until then, we've got the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates to keep you up to date and ready to go.

Are you dreaming about your next trip but still have many travel questions on your mind? To help, Skyscanner’s panel of experts has answered some of the most commonly asked COVID-19 queries. This way, you’ll have all the information you need to make the right decisions for you.

The coronavirus questions travellers have been asking

Destination inspiration

We know that travel is especially difficult right now. But alongside the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates, we want to continue to inspire you with new travel content so that when the world opens its doors again, you’ll be ready. Discover where you can safely travel to from Australia with our global map of travel restrictions.

family travelling with masks

When can Australians travel to New Zealand?

Many of us are excited to cross the Tasman Sea and say hello to our neighbours in New Zealand. Unfortunately, there’s no clear date on when Australians will be able to visit New Zealand.

In late 2020, the “Safe Travel Zone” was formed, allowing NZ residents to enter Australia without needing to quarantine. However, this travel zone closes when an uptick in community transmitted cases occurs. For the latest information on Trans-Tasman travel announcements, check our article, “When can Australians travel to New Zealand?

When can Australians travel to Bali?

The Australian government has issued a travel ban until June 2021, though this ban may be extended even further. Australians will likely be banned from travelling to Bali until both countries have rolled out a vaccination program and have contained the spread of the virus.

Where can I go this Summer?

Searches for summer holiday flights have surged as people yearning for a break overseas dream of a “bucket list” holiday. Ultimately, it is a personal choice of whether now feels like the right time to start thinking about a trip. If you do, be sure to check the policies covering your booking. Many airlines and hotels are adopting flexible booking policies to enable customers to plan a future trip. For many, having something to look forward to in the future, will be positive to focus on.

Packing list

Can I still book multi-destination domestic holidays?

Are you hoping to see multiple cities on a single trip? Whether this is possible or not will depend on your intended destination and where you are coming from, as some states and remote areas are currently closed to travellers.

You may be able to plan and book a multi-destination domestic trip within your own state, or within states that are all open to one another. For example, if you are in Western Australia, consider planning a multi-destination holiday to Perth, Exmouth and Broome if travel restrictions allow.

How do I plan a multi-destination holiday?

There are many things to consider when planning a multi-destination holiday at the best of times. With coronavirus impacting travel plans often without notice, you’ll need to put a bit more effort when it comes to planning two or more destinations in one trip. Luckily, our guide to planning a multi-country holiday during COVID-19 explains everything you need to consider before booking.

How can I find unique holiday ideas?

Though Australia’s borders are closed to international travel, there are plenty of worthwhile places to explore in our own backyard. Check out our top picks when it comes to Australia’s hidden gems, where to go if you crave a staycation, and where to go for ethical wildlife watching.

Woman staring at the ocean

Can I book a last-minute local holiday?

If you’re a traveller who wants to take advantage of last minute holidays, now is a great time to book an Australian staycation. Before you plan your trip, take a look at local government advice to see if there are any travel restrictions in place. You’ll want to prioritise hotels and flights that allow free date changes and/or low to no cancellation fees, just in case there are unexpected restrictions in place.

What countries are currently quarantine free?

Travel restrictions change regularly, with many countries requiring travellers to quarantine upon entry. To stay up to date on the latest worldwide travel restrictions, check out our Where Can I Go? map. This map is refreshed daily and reveals the latest information on entry and quarantine requirements.

Air travel

Everything you need to know about travelling in a post-COVID world. We cover how to stay safe while flying to whether baggage guidelines have changed. Plus, what to do if you need to cancel your flights.

Is it safe to fly?

“Travel providers are reacting to new consumer concerns by implementing and improving hygiene standards to instil confidence and differentiate themselves as people go through the holiday booking experience. airlines and airports have introduced a slew of new measures to keep travellers safe on their journey. It’s also recommended that you take plenty of personal protective equipment with you to reduce the risks associated with flying during coronavirus.”

Jon Thorne, Director of User Satisfaction at Skyscanner

How clean is the air you breathe on an airplane?

The air you breathe on a plane is almost certainly cleaner than the air you’d be breathing indoors on land. This is because of efficient air circulation systems and HEPA filters that are found on the majority of modern commercial flights. HEPA filters scrub particles from the air, circulating fresh air into the cabin every few minutes. We dive into this further in our article on everything you need to know about airplane filters and cleaning.

Clean plane seat

What does HEPA stand for?

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. These filters are commonly used on planes and remove impurities in the air, no matter how small. This includes tiny COVID-19 microns. In fact, in NASA research, HEPA filters remove impurities of that size with a 99.97% efficiency.

Do I need a COVID test to travel?

Each state and territory within Australia sets their own regulations as to whether or not travellers need a COVID test to travel. Travel to and from Australia is banned with few exceptions. For travellers who have an exception to enter Australia, a negative PCR test is required.

Outside of Australia, each country is different in regards to the types of COVID tests they require, if one is required at all. Check the “Where can I go?” map for global COVID test regulations.

To get a COVID-19 test in Australia, you will need to contact your GP or visit a COVID-19 testing facility. You can find the nearest clinic on the state or territory specific government website. It’s a good idea to call ahead and make an appointment as well as find out whether there are any specific preparations you should know about before arriving.

When can I travel long-haul again?

For the latest updates on Australian border openings, check out or article, “When can Australians travel again?” The Australian government has put a travel ban in place that prevents Australian from travelling overseas without an exemption. This ban is in place until June 2021, though it may be extended.

The Department of Home Affairs has yet to give a firm timeline on when Australians will be able to travel freely overseas again. To see a list of countries that are open to Australian travellers, check out our global guide to travel restrictions.

Have baggage guidelines changed during coronavirus?

Baggage guidelines haven’t changed much since the start of COVID-19. The size and number of bags you’re allowed to take with you has remained the same. However, many airports now urge travellers to check in their luggage to keep baggage handling onboard the aircraft to a minimum.

Two suitcases

If you’re unsure what the baggage restrictions are on board check out our guide to checked and carry-on luggage. It’s worth glancing at the baggage section on the website for the airline you’re travelling with as this is the first place that will be updated with any changes.

What are the quarantine rules for domestic flights?

The rules are different for people travelling domestically by air. In most instances, travellers are required to monitor their health for up to 14 days after flying–either at an isolated government quarantine facility or at home.

Each state and territory is different when it comes to allowing travellers into their borders. Some domestic travellers from COVID-19 hotspots may be banned altogether, or required to quarantine. It’s essential to check with local government’s travel advice page before deciding to travel.

I’m thinking of cancelling my flight. What are my options?

This depends on the airlines’ cancellation and compensation policies, but for voluntary cancellations, there are usually fees involved (both from airlines and travel agents). As a result of the uncertainty due to the COVID-19 situation, many airlines are offering flexible rebooking options. This can be a good way to avoid these fees if you’re flexible to move your travel to a later date. If you have flights booked that haven’t been cancelled yet, rather than paying to move them, it could be worth waiting to see if the flights are cancelled nearer the time so the change to your booking or refund doesn’t come at a cost.

Illustration of travel suitcase and toys

How do I know if the airline I’ve booked with has cancelled my flights? 

A number of countries have imposed travel restrictions. Many airlines are suspending flights and some airports have closed, preventing flights from leaving. Check the Department of Home Affairs website for daily updates on specific destinations. For specific airline route information, as well as current cancellation, rebooking or refund policies, you can find all the latest news and travel updates on their websites or check with the International Air Travel Association.

The airline I’m flying with cancelled my flight. What are my options?

It depends on the airline and their policy. Some airlines offer a voucher for future travel, or the option to rebook for a later date with no fee. There are some airlines that still offer refunds, so please check with the airline or travel agent about options.

I’m struggling to get a refund. What should I do? 

In these times, call centres and online support teams are fielding significantly higher volumes of claims than usual. Some airlines have responded to these challenges by instituting COVID-specific policies that allow travellers to claim and receive refunds over a longer time period. Check your airline’s website for policy details. If you’re trying to call or use a live chat to discuss refund options, expect longer wait times than usual, and be persistent.

I booked with Skyscanner. Who should I get in touch with to cancel or make changes? 

If you’ve booked with Skyscanner, contact the phone number or email address listed at the bottom of your booking confirmation.

If you used our flight search feature to book with another online travel agency or airline, you will need to contact them directly to cancel or make changes to your booking. Not sure who you bought your travel from? Check your confirmation email or your bank statement for details on what company the payment was made to.

What protections are in place for holiday bookings going forward?

“Many providers have introduced flexible booking policies for future travel. When searching on Skyscanner for flights you can identify those fares covered by flexible booking policies by the ‘flexible ticket’ icon on the flight listing. You can also adjust your search to show only flexible bookings.

Travel insurance is more important than ever, so it is advised to ensure that any existing policy you have in place covers you for the travel you are looking to book. If you bought a travel insurance policy before coronavirus became a known event, then, generally speaking, you’ll be covered. The relevant date varies according to the insurer, but 12th March is a good rule of thumb is that’s the date the WHO declared coronavirus as a pandemic, and it became a ‘known event’.

If you are looking for new cover, study the fine print, and again, consider speaking to a representative on the phone or by email to be sure of what you’re covered for. If you don’t have cover in place you should ensure you do before booking any future trips, also taking extra care to be sure that the policy covers you for travel to your desired destination.

It’s also advisable to check any consular and repatriation agreements between your home country and the country you want to visit. In some cases, countries might not have official measures in place to ensure you can return quickly from your place of travel if there is an emergency.”

Martin Nolan, Senior Director, Legal & Public and Regulatory Affairs at Skyscanner

General knowledge

With so many news stories circulating talk of travel bubbles and air bridges, this is where we answer common questions you might about about travelling during these times.

What are travel bubbles, travel corridors and air bridges?

Travel bubbles also called “travel corridors” or “air bridges” allow travellers passage between two or more countries without the need to quarantine. These travel bubbles can be one-way. For example, Kiwis may be able to enter Australia without needing to quarantine but Australians are not allowed to enter New Zealand just yet.

What travel bubbles might open in the future?

At the beginning of the pandemic, there were plenty of talks about a travel bubble forming between Australia, New Zealand and other South Pacific nations like Fiji and Vanuatu, with New Zealand already a part of a one-way travel bubble into Australia. However, it seems as though these may not happen in the near future. The Australian government has extended its travel ban until June 2021, so it’s unlikely we’ll see a new travel bubble form before then.

Because the virus can spread quickly and unpredictably, travel bubbles may open or close without advanced notice.

Travellers taking selfie

How has coronavirus changed people’s attitudes toward travel?

We conducted a traveller survey and found that two-thirds (65%) of travellers also said they “want to make better use of their time to travel” and 80% are “more likely to travel to their dream destination” once COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

Many airlines are now likely to add additional routes to their schedules with the aim of enticing travellers back to the skies with offers and promotions.”

Jo McClintock, Global Brand and Marketing Director at Skyscanner

What does the future of air travel look like?

“Expect more electronic security measures as you move through the airport, with infrared cameras, body sensors and temperature screening in place in some cases to avoid infections spreading. Consider downloading apps to ensure that you don’t have to carry paper documents (primarily check-in, security, boarding and hotel confirmation). Also, consider taking most of your foreign currency in electronic form. Multi-currency cards with e-wallets mean you can avoid international bank fees and use contactless payment over notes and coins.”

Dave Thomson, Chief of Staff Product and Design at Skyscanner

What is a workation?

With the lines between work and home life blurring more and more as the year goes on, many people are finding themselves taking advantage of workations (work + vacation). A workation is when you work from a holiday-worthy spot, like a seaside hotel or jungle retreat. Typically, a workation is longer than your typical getaway and requires prime access to the internet.

What is an immunity passport and how do I get one?

According to the World Health Organization, an immunity passport is given to someone who has already contracted COVID-19 and has COVID-19 antibodies in their body, preventing them from re-infection. Immunity passports are also called “risk-free certificates”. These certificates would allow people to travel or work without the risk of getting infected again or infecting others. Australia currently does not issue immunity passports, and has not made public plans to do so.

How can I get Australian government updates about COVID-19?

There are a few apps and websites to help you stay updated on official government advice regarding COVID-19:

  • Coronavirus Australia app: covers the common symptoms of the virus and advises next steps to take if you think you have contracted COVID-19.
  • COVIDSafe app: a tool that notifies you and those around you if you have been exposed to the virus.
  • Health.gov.au: official government website for the Department of Health
  • Smartraveller.gov.au: the latest travel bans and advice in place for countries all around the world.

Australia restrictions and regulations

Australia as a whole as well as states and territories have their own restrictions in place. Stay updated daily from our COVID-19 travel advice page, and find out more about where you can go in your own backyard below.

Can travellers enter Australia?

The Australian border is closed to international tourists with few exceptions. Travellers cannot currently enter Australia on any tourist visa.

When will Australia’s borders open?

When can I travel?” It’s one of the most common questions asked that we still don’t have a firm answer to. Presently, there is a ban on international travel until June 2021–though this may be extended. Australians cannot currently travel overseas, but it’s possible to travel domestically in some regions. Visit the Department of Home Affairs website to see which destinations are open and what restrictions currently apply.

Is intrastate travel allowed in Australia?

As a general rule, intrastate travel is allowed within Australia’s states and territories so long as there is not a community COVID outbreak. States and territories may enforce lockdown measures, preventing intrastate travel, if there are present COVID cases. For the latest restrictions, it is best to check official government pages directly as these restrictions can be enacted without notice.

Is interstate travel allowed in Australia?

Each state and territory sets their own regulations and guidelines when it comes to interstate travel. Travel regulations tend to be enforced on a spectrum. For example:

  • A state or territory may close the borders to travellers coming from known COVID hotspots.
  • A state or territory may close its border to all travellers.
  • A state or territory may require some travellers to undergo quarantine or self-isolation.

The best way to know whether interstate travel is allowed is to check the official government website directly. Note that you may be allowed to enter another state/territory, but prohibited from returning to your home state/territory once you leave.

What happens if I travel to a foreign country during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Because there is a travel ban in place, Australians cannot leave the country without an exemption. These travel exemptions are issued on a case-by-case basis by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs. Travel for holiday purposes is generally not allowed.

If you do leave Australia, you may have a challenging time returning to the country as flights and passenger entries are limited. Upon arrival, travellers are required to quarantine for 14 days.

How do I know which states and territories are open to travellers?

Each state and territory has set their own guidelines you will need to check prior to planning your trip. Many regional communities have banned travellers from outside of their area as well. Find a complete list of travel restrictions at the following government websites:

Follow the latest updates on Smartraveller.gov.au.

Do I need to pay for my own quarantine?

Each state and territory has their own policy when it comes to paying for an entry quarantine. The cost for a 14-day quarantine typically starts at $2,500-3,000 AUD. Additional family members cost around $1,000 AUD per person to be quarantined together in the same accommodation.

Will Australians need a vaccine to travel?

As of February 2021, the Australian government has rolled out its nationwide vaccination program, Health Minister Greg Hunt says that the government has a goal of community vaccination by October 2021.

We’re not sure if the government will require travellers to be vaccinated if they want to enter or leave the country, but many airlines have stated that this will be a policy. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, for example, has said that the airline is considering requiring passengers to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccine before boarding flights in the future.

Do I need to wear a mask for domestic travel?

As of 8 January 2021, travellers are required to wear face masks while in a domestic airport terminal and on a domestic commercial flight.

traveller reading book with suitcase nearby

So there you have it, your coronavirus travel questions answered. There are plenty of ways to get inspired for when the world opens up again.

This page was last updated on 4 March 2021. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. However, given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis, the information will vary by location and change at short notice and over time. We will do our best to keep this page up-to-date, however, this cannot be guaranteed.

This page has been created for general guidance only and has not been designed for you or any specific circumstances relevant to you. It is highly recommended that you check your government’s latest travel advice before travelling or making any decisions to travel.

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