COVID Travel: What You Need to Know
It goes without saying that travel looks a little different right now (okay, wildly different). And all of the ever changing rules and regulations can be a lot to navigate. Yet many of us are itching to get back out there and enjoy a change of scenery. Here, I want to break down what you need to know as simply as I can if travel is in your near future.
Please note that this information is up to date to the best of my knowledge at the time of posting, but things are always subject to change. Please check requirements for your specific destination before you go.
First, if you are planning to travel almost anywhere outside of the continental US, you will need to take a COVID test before you go. This includes Hawaii, Alaska, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Destinations have each set their own requirements for this, but most will require that you take the test within 72 hours of departure. This is the way things have been for several months now, and I think this rule is going to be hanging around a little longer until the vaccine is more widely available (more on that later).
Some destinations, like Hawaii, have very specific approved testing partners, so it’s important to prepare well in advance of your trip. I used an at home test for my trip to Hawaii, and it was very easy. I ordered it online, completed the test via Zoom with a doctor, and mailed it back. I had the results very promptly and without any stress.
The international destinations currently not requiring a PCR test for entry are Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. If you are planning to travel within the continental US, most places also do not have any restrictions for doing so.
As of January 26, the newest CDC regulations state that you will also need to get tested again before you fly home from abroad, or you'll need to show documentation from a doctor that you've recently recovered from COVID. Within places like Mexico and the Caribbean, this is extremely easy, as most resorts are now offering testing right on site for their guests, and many are even offering it for free.
The current regulations are expected to change as the vaccine becomes more widely available. At that point, it’s predicted that you’ll either need to show a negative test or proof of vaccination in order to travel. Some companies may specifically require that you’ve received the vaccine. American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines, two US cruise lines, recently announced that they will require the vaccine for their guests. It’s unclear at this point if other cruise lines will follow with this requirement.
As far as flying goes, masks are required for anyone over the age of 2. Many airlines are limiting food and beverage service on board in an effort to minimize contact with flight attendants, so it’s a good idea to bring some snacks for your flight.
There are many countries that are already open for Americans, including much of the Caribbean, Central and South America, Southern Africa, Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and the Maldives. Many more countries are expected to open by this summer, and some European countries like Spain, the UK, Ireland, and Greece have made announcements about their plans for safely reopening soon.
I know many of us have been feeling very cooped up now for quite some time and will be wanting to hit the road again soon. If there is somewhere that you are wanting to travel this summer or later this year, I encourage you to think about getting it booked now, because demand is extra high this year and capacity will still be limited for a little while. Many African safari companies have reported that they are already nearly or totally booked for 2021.
Many airlines, hotels, and tour operators are still offering very flexible bookings and great rates. You can make your plans in pencil, not pen, and change things later if you need to without any fees.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me any time. I want you to feel safe and comfortable in your vacation plans, whenever and wherever you decide to travel.