Our Approach to COVID-19

Updated September 14, 2021

This page outlines the steps we are taking to keep our community safe. In March 2020, we made the extremely difficult decision to pause and postpone current programs due to COVID-19.  Since then, we have worked closely with our safety & security partner, International SOS, to determine the best way to resume travel in a way that keeps our customers, staff, and the local communities we live alongside safe. In March 2021, we have been carefully and successfully rebuilding our travel programs across Latin America and most recently Europe. ‍

During this time, we made several key changes:

  • Revamped our booking policies to be as flexible as possible

  • Updated our operating procedures to follow all local and global guidelines

  • Challenged ourselves to go above and beyond local and global recommendations by creating our own guidelines to safeguard our community.

We continually monitor the ever-evolving global and regional responses to COVID-19. In light of months of practical learnings on the ground, as of September 2021, we have further updated our policies surrounding vaccination and FAQs below. We will continue to ensure that this page and our policies are updated to reflect the most recent COVID-19 responses and developments. 

What will remain constant is how seriously we take the safety of our community. We hope that our updated policies and commitment to safeguarding our community will give you the confidence to travel with us when you feel ready. 

Our Commitment to Safety

Your safety is paramount to us, which is why we continually evaluate and update our health & safety practices. Our COVID-19 policies ensure the safety of our program participants, staff, and local communities, and reflect the latest safety developments and industry best practices. 

As the global COVID landscape changes, so does our approach. All of our program participants are kept up to date with the most current information and local guidelines for each of the destinations we visit. Additionally, we ask for & listen to feedback from the Remote Year community and our local staff concerning any changes that may need to be considered. 

Book with Confidence

We know plans change, so we are introducing more flexible policies. For the moment, there are no transfer fees if you decide to change programs more than 30 days before the program start date.

Vaccination Policy

From the end of October 2021, all participants and staff traveling with Remote Year will require vaccination against COVID-19, in addition to any other local restrictions that may apply. For full details, please see the FAQ section below and the Program Policy Page.

Access to Support

We have partnered with International SOS to have up-to-date health and safety information and assistance with medical needs, 24/7 around the globe. We also have a recommended list of hospitals and local clinics for COVID testing or medical care in every destination and may have access to healthcare professionals on-site in some cases. If a Remote Year program participant is suspected to have contracted COVID-19, our program staff and management team will work together to coordinate support for the individual and community to help minimize any impact for all concerned. Please see details below in the FAQ section. 

FAQ'S

Do I have to be vaccinated to travel with Remote Year?

Yes. All participants on RY programs, and any guest of RY participants, will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to take part in Remote Year in any Remote Year product. Please see section 6.1 of Program Policy

I am exempt from vaccination, can I still travel?

Given the risk posed to our customers and participants, and to the local community in which we host Remote Year programs, Remote Year has decided the fairest and most responsible policy given the risks from an individual contracting COVID-19 is not to allow exemptions from its vaccination requirement for any reason at this time. 

Why did you introduce the COVID-19 Vaccination Policy?

As a travel company which facilitates the movement of groups of people around the world, we are always mindful of how to deliver the best experience to those who choose to travel with us, while ensuring we are respectful, fair, and responsible to the communities into which we travel.

Since we have started operating in LatAm and Europe since March 2021, we have observed first hand the negative impact to people’s experiences from even just one Remote Year participant contracting COVID-19. 

On a broader level, there is increasing research showing the effectiveness of vaccines on preventing the transmission of COVID-19, as well as reduced symptoms for those who have been vaccinated, thereby resulting in reduced need for medical assistance. 

Although we respect an individual’s choice to make health decisions for themselves, we are firmly committed to protecting our customers and the local communities in which we host our programs.  It is through this lens that we have decided to update our policy regarding COVID-19 vaccination requirements to travel with us. 

We are not suggesting that people must get vaccinated to travel. Vaccination is a personal choice, which we fully respect. 

Do I have to take a COVID-19 test before starting my travels with Remote Year?

In line with our change in vaccination requirement, this is not something which we ask for. However, this may be needed as part of local entry requirements to a country. We also recommend that you do a test just before traveling so you can be sure you are not infected with COVID-19 but not showing symptoms.

Is there a chance that Remote Year programs will be canceled due to COVID-19, and, if so, what happens to my payments?

While we will do everything in our power to ensure our programs proceed as planned, we know that the global environment requires flexibility. Before canceling a program, we will determine if another routing option that provides an equal experience would be possible and offer this as an alternative.

If a program must be canceled, whenever possible, we will do our best to notify you at least 30 days before cancellation. If a program has been canceled, we will work with you to either place you on another program or issue a refund for any payments made to Remote Year.

What if someone gets sick before the program?

If someone receives a positive COVID test prior to arrival, we will either work with them so they can join the program at a later date, or offer credit and work with them to place them on a future program.

What if someone gets sick during the program?

If someone becomes sick despite precautions, we will immediately notify the community and offer access to a private quarantine option to isolate the individual from the rest of the group, if needed. Depending on the specific situation, we have to consider the full context and evaluate the risk levels of transmission to community members. The considered risk level, alongside advice from International SOS, will then determine further swift and appropriate action. The COVID positive individual’s name will be shared with the community so that proper tracing can occur. For the rest of the community on the ground with the COVID positive individual, we will ensure everyone has testing options and conduct a risk assessment for each individual based on a low, medium, and high-risk rating. 

  • Low Risk - May continue activities as normal on Remote Year

    • Did not have any close contact with COVID positive individual in the last 5 days or

    • Has a negative COVID test produced after risk assessment begins

  • Medium Risk - Must fall into the low risk category before they are allowed on Remote Year events or at the Remote Year workspace

    • Had close contact with a COVID positive individual and does not have a negative COVID test

  • High Risk - must quarantine until moved into the Low Risk category

    • Has COVID symptoms and/or a positive COVID test

At the time, we will inform program participants what determines ‘close contact,’ so that proper individual assessments can be made. 

If any of our program participants potentially contract COVID, we will do our best to make sure they and the Remote Year community are cared for by facilitating any operational & supportive measures that need to be taken. Any costs to do so incurred by Remote Year will be passed on. (i.e. Additional accommodation required to facilitate isolation.) Program participants are responsible for all costs associated with COVID treatment & quarantine, and therefore we highly advise all program participants to obtain travel insurance that would cover this.

In the case of suspected COVID within the group, we may ask you to provide proof of a recent negative COVID test to attend any subsequent Remote Year events and access the Remote Year coworking space until we are satisfied the risk level is back to low.

Is it common that someone gets COVID while on Remote Year?

No, it does not happen often, but it has happened before. In the cases that it has occurred, the COVID positive member recovered without any issues and the community was able to finish their experience safely and happily. 

Will Remote Year pay for COVID tests?

No, but we do everything we can to make testing simple. The costs for any tests taken between destinations or any additional tests needed if COVID is suspected within the group are to be paid by individual program participants and are not covered by Remote Year. Tests in most of our cities will vary from $25-$100 depending on if you would like an antigen or PCR test. 

Do I need travel insurance to participate?

Yes, we believe this is necessary to protect each program participant, and, in some instances, is required by some local governments.Travel and Health insurance, which covers COVID-19 related issues, including things like additional accommodation during or after your program dates, flight changes, is readily available and affordable. Remote Year can help connect you with a provider with options, please make sure you understand the extent of your coverage before purchasing. You will be asked for proof of appropriate insurance before departure.

I have to get tested before flying to my next destination. Is there a test option nearby?

Yes, Remote Year will have testing options for those that need it in each destination so that the whole process is as seamless as possible. Often this can be booked via the Remote Year Marketplace. Details on how to do this will be provided at the appropriate time. 

Is COVID-19 a factor in what destinations Remote Year decides to visit? 

Yes, before selecting a destination, we look at a variety of factors related to safety and security, as well as the experience we can deliver for our community. We have seen that things can change with COVID, so if we believe the experience in one of our destinations will be compromised, or if the safety of our community is at an increased risk, we  will implement one of our predetermined backup plans, which vary for any given situation and program. 

What sources of information are you using to inform your decisions?

We are working tirelessly to monitor and evolve our approach to COVID using the guidance of our safety and security partner, International SOS, and the local government for each destination.

What if new local restrictions are imposed on a destination?

If new local restrictions are placed on a destination, we will work with our on-the-ground team and safety advisors to determine the full impact of the new restrictions. If it is determined that these restrictions have too great an impact on our program experience or the overall safety of our community, we would either cancel the program or offer an alternative destination. 

What happens if the local Remote Year staff contract COVID? 

We follow the same protocol with our staff as we do for Remote Year program participants. We ensure that our staff has a place to isolate and medical attention if needed, and we provide relevant support from the Remote Year staff to ensure minimal or no disruption to the program.