Need a pre-travel COVID test but can’t get an appointment (or guaranteed results) in time for your trip? Getting a test is now as simple as ordering one online and doing it yourself at home.
Numerous companies are now offering at-home COVID-19 tests that will get you results within just a few days. I tried one of these at-home tests, and the experience couldn’t have been easier.
Note that the at-home tests mentioned here are not officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but they have received Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA).
Certain providers of at-home tests are restricting orders to people experiencing symptoms or who have been exposed to the virus. Click here to read a full breakdown of costs and availability for the tests on the market.
Currently, the tests available to travelers who are feeling well and haven’t been exposed are:
I tried out the at-home COVID-19 test from Pixel, which is only available to people who are experiencing symptoms or who have been exposed. (I was notified that I had potentially been exposed.)
I opted for Pixel, because it is the only at-home COVID-19 test that has no upfront charge. Pixel will bill your insurance for you, and they also offer the test free of charge to those without insurance.
I took a quick survey online to determine my eligibility for the test, and the kit was delivered to my doorstep the next day. Pixel’s kit included very simple and straightforward directions for the sample collection, as well as a package and label to return the sample to the lab. I was given the option of scheduling a free FedEx overnight pickup (so I wouldn’t have to leave the house to return the sample) or delivering the return package to an outdoor dropbox location.
The sample collection was very easy, and just involved swabbing the lower portion of each of my nostrils and placing the swab in an included vial. After returning the sample, I was sent tracking updates letting me know when my sample arrived at the lab, and then again when my test results were ready. I ordered my kit on December 14th, received the kit the morning of December 15th, returned the sample in the afternoon on December 15th, and had my results by December 17th.
Fortunately, my results were negative, and I verified my results by getting a second test (done in-person at a testing site through my city), which were also negative.
Overall, the at-home process was very simple and significantly faster than going to an in-person testing location.
If you need to have a COVID-19 test done before or after traveling, the at-home tests offer results within 48-72 hours and are an easy option.