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Press announcement

Expert travel tips for a healthy and safe holiday season


As we enter the festive period and are gearing up for the busy travel season, International SOS shares expert recommendations for travelling safely during this holiday season.

Although most of us have adjusted to the new normal for some time now and the availability of COVID-19 vaccines makes this season safer to travel than the previous two years, many of us are still facing the challenges of navigating various travel threats. Along with COVID-19, the threat of seasonal viruses, including influenza and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) remains.

Perennial safety and security risks including extreme weather events and criminal activities such as scams, pickpocketing and stolen passports could also impact personal safety. Those travelling during the holiday period should carefully consider the risks, especially when in crowded places, and take preventive actions to mitigate these issues.

The number of people travelling between now and the start of the new year is expected to be close to pre-pandemic levels. Earlier this year, there was a surge in the number of travellers globally, with the total number of passengers in August reported up by 67.7% compared to August 2021.1 The high passenger volume over the holiday season is likely to result in long lines at airports and train stations, busy planes and congested roads.

During the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere, there were major flight delays and cancellations as airline carriers struggled to handle the holiday travel surge due to strike actions and staffing shortages. As winter approaches in many parts of the world, there is an increased risk arising from airline personnel calling in sick due to flu and other illness, which may cause further travel disruptions.

Dr Katherine O’Reilly, Medical Director at International SOS comments,

This year, people can celebrate the festivities safely, provided they use available resources including COVID -19 and flu vaccines, COVID-19 tests, avoid being around others when feeling unwell and continue to practice good hygiene. It is difficult to predict what will happen with COVID-19, but advanced planning can help us protect ourselves and each other over the holidays. However, it is not just COVID-19 that travellers need to be aware of, as cases of flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) are already increasing and beginning to cause strain on hospitals in Canada and the USA (2). It is important that employers continue to share up-to-date advice to help their employees safely enjoy the festive period.


Top travel safety tips that organisations can encourage for the festive season
  • Be prepared – check entry requirements for your destination. Check which vaccinations you may need and if antimalarial is required. Schedule a travel health consultation well in advance.
  • Be COVID-safe – find out the coronavirus trends at your travel destination. Ensure your COVID-19 and flu vaccines are up to date. Don’t drop your guard over the holiday period and remember the simple measures (good hygiene, masks in crowded areas) to decrease COVID-19 risks.
  • Maintain flexible itineraries – it is good practice to keep departure and return dates/routes as flexible as possible. Contingency plans remain important, plan for the unexpected. What would you do if you needed to self-isolate?
  • Timing is everything – allow additional travel time to reach your destination as it is likely to be more congested in airports, stations and on the roads due to the increased volume of travel.
  • Be crowd safe - when travelling, you can frequently encounter queues and crowds. Once at your destination, you may also experience large crowds at festive events such as markets or religious services. Always have a 360-degree awareness of your surroundings, stay vigilant, keep valuables secure or out of sight and identify your closest points of exit. Abide by local directives if an incident does occur.
  • Eat, drink and be jolly informed – the key to travelling comfortably this holiday season is to keep informed of the most up-to-date information and any emerging developments. If you are travelling to a new place, research your destination before you arrive and know whom to call in an emergency. Monitor local media for updates, be aware of the weather conditions and consult with the locals for information about the safest neighbourhoods, places to stay and incidences of crime.

1. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) | Peak travel season ends on a high note in August
2. World Economic Forum | RSV could cause a ‘tripledemic’ – here’s what you need to know

About the International SOS Group of Companies
The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives and protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, and your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity, and sustainability.

Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group, headquartered in London & Singapore, is trusted by over 9,000 organisations. This includes the majority of the Fortune Global 500. As well as mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions, and NGOs. Nearly 12,000 multi-cultural security, medical, logistics and digital experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,200 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days. Between them, International SOS employees speak nearly 100 languages and dialects in our Assistance Centres, Clinics, and offices.

To protect your workforce, we are at your fingertips: