A man has warned New Zealanders to think twice before planning an international trip after he experienced a "COVID nightmare" travelling to Germany.
In November, high school teacher mark Saunders was told his mother, who lived in Germany, had been rushed to hospital with a form of thyroid cancer, reported Newshub.
Saunders was told his mother, who he had not seen in seven years, had weeks to live.
Born in Britain, Saunders lived in Germany from the age of seven before emigrating to Nnew Zealand in 2005 and becoming a citizen.
He said the "nightmare" began after deciding to go to Germany as soon as possible.
"It was tough because I knew I had to go over because I didn't know how long she had. I just knew I needed to be back in time for the new school year, so I left not really knowing when I would be coming back," Saunders told Newshub.
"So that was hard. I tried to do the MIQ thing before I left but I wasn't successful so I took my chances because I had to go."
Getting a flight, Saunders said, was easy. The "real problem", came with getting a pre-departure test prior to boarding.
Currently, Germany states that those arriving must have a test taken no more than 72 hours before entry.
"Getting flights wasn't a problem, that was easy. It was actually trying to organise pre-flight testing," he said. "When you think the flight is 36 hours, that was a real problem."
After arriving in Frankfurt, Germany, Saunders visited his mother in the hospital and immediately noticed how different things were compared to New Zealand.
"We are so fortunate in New Zealand, it's a different world. The first thing that struck me was that everybody is wearing masks everywhere and every street corner seems to have a testing centre," he said.
"Before you can go into any sort of restaurant or anything like that you have to show evidence of a negative rapid antigen test. It is very strict over there."
Saunders then went to Manchester to see family for a week but was caught out when Germany enforced a snap travel ban on all arrivals from the UK.
The issue with travel during Covid, Saunders said, was that you could only plan around current regulations, which can change in a moment.
"The thing about travelling at this time is you can only base your plans on whatever the regulations are at the time," he said.
"The problem was I was meant to stay for a week in the UK - but then all of sudden, after four days, Germany decided to close the border to all UK arrivals, so I had to cut my trip in the UK short.
"All the flights flying directly to Germany were fully booked before the deadline so I had no other choice to fly to Switzerland, stay overnight and then fly into Frankfurt before the deadline hit, so otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to fly into Germany at all."
After getting back into Germany, Saunders' streak of bad luck continued after a family friend he'd been staying with had their child test positive for Covid. Saunders then caught the virus as well.
"One of the sons there wasn't feeling very well and I just thought he's probably got a cold, and then all of sudden his mother said he has just tested positive for Covid," Saunders said.
"This was on January 2 and I was due to fly out [for New Zealand] on January 5, so I immediately packed my stuff and moved out so I didn't risk not being able to fly because MIQ places are quite hard to get.
"I tested negative twice, and then the next morning on January 3 I tested positive, so I knew I couldn't come home."
Fortunately, Saunders said MIQ re-booked his hotel room for Friday when he would complete his isolation in Germany and arrive back in New Zealand.
Speaking to fellow Kiwis considering travel, Sauders said they should "think very carefully" before making a trip and anticipate for "a few things to go wrong".
"Think very, very carefully before planning any trips overseas," he warns. "If I had to do it again I probably wouldn't, but I felt I had no choice because of my mum. But I personally would not do another overseas trip until things have calmed down quite a bit.
"I think it's too much of a risk. You can only base your travel on current regulations and the thing is regulations change almost daily.
"You're consistently dodging the bullets and finding your way through and it's very stressful."
Sauders didn't regret going but said those weeks had been one of the most stressful periods of his life.
This article originally appeared on Newshub.