A 5-Step Guide to Travelling Back to the UK
After seven months back in Colombia, three cancelled flights and a handful of sleepless nights worrying about how I was going to return to the UK, I finally managed to fly back to the country in a humanitarian flight from Bogota to London. Now that I have gone through this very unique travelling experience, I would like to share a few steps that I took to still make it pleasant and smooth-running:
- Get your *extra* documents ready
As an international student, there are a few obvious things you need at the airport like your passport and BRP/Visa. Additionally, during the current pandemic, local authorities may ask you for extra documents. For example, I had to sign up to ‘Coronapp’ (the Colombian version of NHS Track and Trace) and fill a migration form to be able to enter the airport and leave the country.
Moreover, as everyone arriving in the UK, I had to fill the Passenger Locator Form and show it at the UK Border. This form must be filled online 48 hours prior to your arrival and you can access it from https://www.gov.uk/provide-journey-contact-details-before-travel-uk. You can present the form digitally or physically, however, I recommend the latter to avoid any delays if your phone or device runs out battery or data.
- Make your own Biosecurity Pack
The airline I was flying with was very kind to gift each passenger their own biosecurity pack. If this is not the case for you, here are a few elements to include in yours:
- Face masks (if you have a long flight bring some replacements as you will need to change them every 4 hours)
- Antibacterial gel (check if your airline is allowing gel containers over the liquid limit)
- Antibacterial wipes
- Arrange your food delivery with PLENTY of time
The demand for home delivery slots at major supermarkets is extremely high these days and you need to book yours with plenty of anticipation- I booked my delivery on Saturday 19th and the closest slot available was for Thursday 24th at 10 p.m. If you’re self-isolating and you do not manage to book your shopping delivery to arrive quickly, here are a couple of alternatives:
the University has an emergency food pack and meals you can buy and get delivered.
Order your isolation pack if you are staying in Uni Halls
-Your isolation pack will include enough food for your first 3 or 4 days, giving you some extra time to ask for home delivery.
Use the NHS Volunteer Responders Service
–NHS Volunteers can help to deliver groceries to the place where you are self-isolating. To access this service, you must call 08081963646 and provide some information like your personal details, the type of help that you need and how urgently you need it. Afterwards, your details will be placed on a database available to Volunteers, if any of them is available, they will get in touch with you and help you out.
-I used the service on Saturday for a few essential supplies that I was missing and got a call back within thirty minutes and my groceries a couple of hours after.
Top tip: If your international credit/debit cards are not working and you still do not have a British one, I recommend shopping at iceland.co.uk which gives you the alternative to pay via PayPal, it has very affordable prices and in my experience has the most and quickest home delivery slots available.
- Plan for your at-home gym in advance
Exercising during self-isolation is a great way to relax, distract and get over jet lag, however, just like with grocery deliveries, the shipping of items like dumbbells and exercise mats can take a long while.
Before travelling to the UK, take the time to go online shopping and order some exercise equipment so it is waiting for you when you arrive at your new home. Alternatively, if you do not want to invest in expensive equipment or the items are not eligible for delivery to your address- which happened to me- you can get creative and resourceful.
In my grocery delivery, I ordered a 5-litre water bottle and a pack of 2-litre ones. I use these alongside a few resistance bands I brought from home and a few towels- that serve as my exercise mat- to get my daily workout done!
- Organise your social agenda
Self-isolating does not mean you cannot meet new people and make new friends over the internet. In fact, the amazing clubs and societies over at Leeds University Union (LUU) have organised a wide array of events that you can enjoy from the comfort of your room. Make sure to keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram pages for the joining link and more details.
Furthermore, there are some fun virtual events happening at LUU like a virtual Cook-A-Long this Thursday which you can access here https://www.luu.org.uk/union-events/2020/10/01/virtual-cook-a-long-cornflake-chicken/. Or you can also join our lovely Link to Leeds ambassadors for a fun Zoom social or other welcome activities, for more details access: https://linkto.leeds.ac.uk/arrival-support/
I hope everyone travelling to the UK makes it safely and has a great flight! Always remember to wear your mask, keep distance from others and take care! Do not hesitate to contact me or any of the other ambassadors if you need any help!