Let’s be clear on one very important thing: the pandemic is not over. Yet vaccines, rapid tests, and a growing body of scientific research have enabled us to regain some sort of normalcy.
People are flying again, both nationally and internationally. And with the end of the US travel ban on non-citizens from places like Europe and Brazil, anyone can now spend time away from home.
But travel is nowhere near what it was before COVID-19 hit, so if you’re already planning an escape you’ll need to prepare in advance.
Vaccines will make travel so, so, so much easier
Depending on your destination, you may not be able to travel or do much if you are not fully vaccinated against COVID. This means that you have received the correct number of vaccines (two for mRNA vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer; one for single-dose inoculations like Johnson & Johnson), and at least two weeks have passed since the last one.
[Related: Fully vaccinated people can safely travel, the CDC says]
But no vaccine will do. Some places won’t recognize certain vaccines (Australia doesn’t accept travelers immunized with Novavax, for example), so you’ll need to keep an eye out for which countries accept which vaccines. Most countries accept vaccines approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, but you may still need to validate your injections with local authorities. France, for example, will recognize your Centers for Disease Control and Prevention card, but you’ll still need a local health pass that will cost you 36 euros ($ 41). You can check if your shot is accepted at your destination here.
Vaccines aren’t technically required in most countries, but they will definitely make your life easier. The United States asks non-national travelers this prerequisite, but if you still have one injection or have only recently received your second, you can still enter the country by providing a negative COVID test performed not. more than one calendar day before departure. Other countries like France only allow unvaccinated people for very compelling reasons and won’t let you in unless you test negative for COVID both before departure and after arrival. Italy has a similar protocol, but there, as in other European countries, the problem is not to set foot on their territory, but to be able to move once there.
In Italy and France, you won’t be able to go to museums and theaters, or enjoy other activities such as dining, unless you have a local health pass. The easiest way to get one is to provide proof of vaccination. A less convenient way to get around is to obtain a local permit via a negative COVID test. This will only save you 72 hours of fun, but you can get a new pass after taking a new test.
Do your research and stay up to date
What you need to do to travel will depend on where you are going, but may also change depending on where you are. Before purchasing tickets, be sure to delve into the regulations you will need to follow and the requirements of your airline. Keep in mind that layovers in certain countries may prevent you from being admitted to your final destination, so take this into account when creating your itinerary. To keep things simple, opt for direct flights when possible.
Once you have your tickets, most airlines go to great lengths to let you know what you will need for your trip and alert you to any complications. Still, it’s your responsibility to stay on top of guidelines and regulations, so keep an eye out for announcements from the CDC, State Department, and local health authority at your destination.
Mainstream media and specialist travel sites like Frommer’s, Lonely Planet, and Sherpa are constantly posting stories and resources as the news unfolds, so it’s a good idea to check them out regularly as well.
Reserve in advance
The travel industry has been hit hard by COVID, and while people feel safer flying and going abroad, that doesn’t mean tourism has rebounded.
“It’s a strange time to travel. A lot of attractions, resorts or restaurants are still understaffed, so there isn’t the availability you’d expect, ”says Pauline Frommer, Frommer’s Editorial Director.
Due to shortages, many places are operating at a lower capacity – some that were open all week are now only open on weekends or accept fewer people to keep travelers safe while accommodating them properly.
Now is definitely not the time to be a “fly” type of traveler, and Frommer says it’s more important than ever to make reservations in advance: from hotels and visits to museums and other places of interest. ‘interest.
Get travel insurance
You may have already understood the basics: things change. At the start of the pandemic, airlines waived fees and implemented extra-flexible measures to encourage people to travel. And while some of these measures are still in place (at least until December 31), travelers no longer have such a benefit.
American Airlines, for example, will refund the full price of your ticket if your flight is canceled for any reason, but it will not reserve a seat for you on a competing airline. This means that you can find yourself stranded during a layover or end up paying a lot more money for a new ticket on a new airline to get to your final destination.
[Related: Choose the best seat on any airplane]
That’s why travel insurance is more important than ever, and Frommer says more and more people are getting it when planning a vacation. Keep an eye out for prices, as high demand may have pushed them up. You can always opt for the insurance that your airline or online travel agent offers, but it’s best to shop around and read the fine print to find an insurance policy that’s right for you.
And when you leave your home to embark on your trip, be aware that when you return from the trip, things are still far from normal. Wherever you go and regardless of your immunization status, be sure to wear a mask on planes, at airports, and anywhere social distancing is not possible. Following local regulations and doing your homework will help make your trip a truly fun and relaxing experience.