By now most businesses should have ceased all international travel and recalled travellers and all non essential Expatriates and their families. There are still a significant number of travellers including overlanders that have become stranded overseas as countries close borders and international flights are withdrawn and aircraft grounded.
If you have not already done so, you should contact your national Embassy in the country that you are currently located in for advice and further details. Expect difficulty in connecting with Embassies or any Government related call centres due to long call queues.
Repatriation. It may yet still be possible to get seats on commercial flights. Where this option is available, travellers are strongly advised to take it. Otherwise, it may be possible to book seats on one the few remaining government sponsored national repatriation charter flights. Whilst these flights are typically sponsored, you should expect to have to pay for seats. Priority should be given to the most vulnerable, those with pressing medical needs and expect flights to be organised based on countries with the largest numbers of stranded nationals.
On return to your home country. It is important that you respect and comply with national and local guidelines. You should anticipate the requirement for quarantine or other shelter in place / social distancing requirements.
Should you decide not to repatriate, then consider:
If anything happens to your family back home, you are unlikely to be able to return home until the situation is resolved (this could be several months);
If anything happens to you or your partner, you should assume that your Insurance Company, Government or family are not going to be able to assist;
The country political and security risk, resources available in the country including health (critical care beds and ventilators), fresh potable water, food supply's, fuel etc;
Probable local government response strategies to Covid-19 and the implications for your ability to move and ongoing safety;
Language and your ability to communicate effectively in all situations;
Are you equipped to deal with the change in seasons and forecast weather? Including any health implications (local seasonal disease).
Overlanders. Leaving your mobile home (vehicles / campers and equipment) in a foreign country is a very tough decision to make, especially where you may not have a home to return to in your own country and if it is not possible to insure property left behind. Embassies might be able to recommend secure areas for storage but you should not assume that any recommendation carries any responsibility or financial liability. For planning purposes, it would be prudent to assume that it might be a minimum of 6 months (or longer) before you are able to return.
Shelter in Place. Crossing country borders overland is unlikely to be an option and even if borders are open now, they are unlikely to remain open as the disease takes hold. It is impossible to make meaningful recommendations on safe places to stay as every situation will be different. This decision must be made locally. Some of the points to be considered when making the decision on where to 'shelter in place' are:
The impact of the disease on the country, neighbouring countries and local areas, the behaviour and attitude of the local population / community and access to utilities including fresh water, food supplies, fuel and medical aid.
City, Rural or Remote. The ability to travel within the country noting the need to maintain social distancing (minimum of 2 metres between people). City locations might be attractive for proximity to essential supplies and facilities but may leave you vulnerable to civil unrest or theft. Very remote areas could leave you without any support or access to water, food or medical support. Rural communities may come to resent your presence if food or water is scarce....
Mutual support. It may be possible to get introduced to other Overlanders / Travellers. You might seek to 'lay up' close together (or keep apart). Embassies might be able to facilitate introductions. Others that might agree to assist include fellow countrymen from resident international businesses with staff and facilities in country (for example: resources companies, international airlines, banks, utility companies. NGO's, communications / IT companies etc).
Access to local currency and have a USD Contingency fund in a safe place.
Call schedules. Arrange regular routine calls with those at home to assure them of your well being. Agree what actions to take (and when) if calls are missed. Acquire a local sim card to minimise costs. Consider purchasing a satellite telephone if you don't have one.
Update your Emergency Pack and Emergency Response Plan. Make sure Next of Kin details and Passport numbers are up to date and registered with the Embassy. Prepare for loss of utilities including national communications networks and access to the internet.
Agree procedures for missing / overdue person.
Refresh VISA's as appropriate.
Use radios in country if available or satellite telephones for international calls and internet access. Consider establishing a radio safety and support network with daily check calls on an appropriate frequency.
Routine maintenance, spare parts etc.
Stay in touch with the Embassy and seek regular updates and advice.
Review insurance policies and seek changes as necessary.
Review your social media profile and assess the associated security risk. Consider reducing frequency of publications and blogs. Avoid broadcasting location details that might be useful to the ill disposed.
Review insurance policies. The position regarding travel related insurance policies is likely to vary between underwriters and policies. Review policy documentation and consult brokers to determine what if anything will be eligible to be reclaimed in due course. It is important to make sure that you understand what evidence you need to gather and in what format to ensure you can maximise timely financial recovery.
Keep batteries etc charged and be ready at all times for a rapid departure from the chosen location.
If you have questions or need assistance, please don't hesitate to get in touch via the website at www.tiptoeoverland.com. Support will be provided on a best endeavours basis.