How much should a pre-departure test cost?
It's likely we're all a bit rusty on budgeting for foreign holidays but post-pandemic travel may have a range of new costs to factor in.
It turns out these may vary wildly as to where you live and your port of departure.
"Quarantine free travel for vaccinated travellers who return a negative test," was outlined as the final goal of the Government's four step plan to reconnect Kiwis with the rest of the world.
After a two-year border pause there are signs that a return to regular international travel may soon be on the horizon. However, it is likely to look unlike anything experienced pre-pandemic and carry a number of new costs.
Along with vaccine records, pre-departure tests, sometimes called "fit-to-fly" tests are a common entry requirement for most countries.
On Monday the US announced a remarkably similar plan to open its borders to vaccinated travellers from November. Likewise, the UK's streamlined Covid travel restrictions point to an exciting direction of travel.
However, 72-hour pre-departure testing looks like a feature that will stick around for a while.
Unlike general community tests pre-departure Covid screening has to be paid for by the traveller.
Currently these range anywhere from $140 plus collection fees to the upper limits of $435 for a last-minute, rapid turnaround from a travel clinic. In many cases the tests are being processed by the same labs
From a range of 10 New Zealand testing centres and travel clinics serving international travellers - the average price including doctors fees was $258 per test.
You could get an airfare to Aussie for less, pre-pandemic.
The cost of pre-departure testing also varied by region. For passengers flying out of Auckland you could be paying an average of $245 versus $219 in Wellington, or $192 for a "fit-to-fly" test in Christchurch.
With re-tests and post arrival tests required by other countries, the costs quickly stack up.
It doesn't get any cheaper or more standardised in other countries. Last month the UK's competition watchdog called for "immediate" investigation of price gouging among PCR testing centres.
The 12 August report from the Competition and Markets Authority found the average price of a test was $145, varying wildly from as little as $39 to $970 for a test result.
While the cost of testing should stabilise as overseas travel becomes more common, New Zealand's labs are already stretched by current demand.
Labtests in Auckland, the only lab processing pre-departure tests and general community swabs in the region, says that it has never offered an expedited service.
"We cannot guarantee pre-departure test results for travellers in less than 72 hours from time of collection," says Chris Davey, GM of Labtests.
"Paying a third party for an expedited services doesn't get the laboratory to work any quicker."
Looking at data from Denmark and Singapore, labs are modelling demand for a time when Covid is endemic in New Zealand and travel more common. However, due to the logistics of travel testing, scaling up production is unlikely to drastically lower prices.
While PCR tests are common, additional requirements for some destinations also carry extra costs. Pre-departure IgM Antibody tests in China - for example - make it a more expensive destination.
"We won't ever get to the point where test capacity limits travel," she says, but they will be required for some time. "It will be part of life."
While travel bubbles with Australia and the Cook Islands remain paused, it is unclear if there will be new testing requirements when travel resumes.
This month Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown said that there would be new Covid vaccine requirements when Kiwis were welcomed back including proof of vaccination.
Covid Response and the Ministry of Health warns travellers that tests are also a legal requirement for most countries that are transit hubs and tells travellers to contact the consulate of their destinations.
"You should check airline and country pre-departure testing requirements for every country you are going through on your journey to make sure you comply with them all, not just New Zealand's."
Testing is going to be an important part of reopening borders, but it has also been identified as a lucrative industry.
Lab and service fees for a single 787 Dreamliner departing New Zealand would be over $60,000.