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With worldwide COVID-19 vaccinations rates increasing daily, and countries welcoming travelers backs, many of us are dreaming about international travel and travel bookings are surging for the first time in 2 years. Spikes in COVID-19 cases and the occurrence of the delta variant, have made for a shaky and sometimes daunting start. The Travellist Co. have gathered the "must know" information so you can stop dreaming and start doing in a post-COVID world.
Firstly, consider if a destination is safe, and if it is responsible to travel there according to their current and potential health situation. Know and understand the important and relevant health and safety information, such as the daily number of infections in an area, the overall positive case rate, and whether new infections are increasing or decreasing. If you find this overwhelming, enlist the help of a professional in order to make an informed decision about whether it is right, and safe, for you to travel.
Each country, and different destinations within the country, has COVID-19 specific entry requirements. This is true for passengers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, non vaccinated travelers and people with medical exemptions alike. Depending on which category you fall into at the time of travel and your vaccination status, you can expect further individual test requirements before, during and even after your trip begins.
Testing requirements for each country vary hugely, this includes testing time limits, quarantine requirements ranging from 1 to 14 days, type of test accepted and additional documentation or visas - all this to consider before you even step foot in an airport.
Domestic travel in the United States has regulations and rules too, understanding the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) travel restrictions and recommendations is essential for a stress free trip closer to home.
Getting a COVID-19 test prior to any departure is a responsible and often enforced part of the travel experience. Tests are now widely available at urgent cares, pharmacies, most hospitals, and sometimes even at airports. Each destination and airline will have its own restrictions, so awareness is vital.
It's important to note you will most likely require a negative test, or a medical exemption to return home hassle-free as well, so remaining vigilant at a destination, and utilizing safe practices during your journey e.g. social distancing and mask wearing, is just as important as before you depart.
Understanding you may be required to show proof of double vaccination, medical exemption or negative viral test means making sure whichever group you belong to, you have the documentation in printed and electronic form for inspection. It is worth noting you may also need this from many destinations for entry into the United States or even interstate for example a pre travel test required for the Hawaiian Islands.
Plane, train or public transport
Respect other's choice to socially distance during luggage drop-off, security checks, boarding and baggage claim. Even if you are fully vaccinated, you still need to take precautions, such as wearing a mask and keeping your distance in public transport hubs to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In countries or destination where vaccinations may not be as readily available to the local community this is key to protecting communities where receiving a vaccination may not currently be an option. To put that in perspective, at the time this article was written many African countries such as Kenya and Tanzania have less than 2% vaccination rate.
Tourism is an important economical pillar to many destinations, our home base of Queenstown, NZ being no exception, and they are eager to welcome visitors again. However, locals don’t want to do so at the risk of creating a spike in cases and risking the health of their community, being vigilant is doing a service to your hosts.
Choose Service Providers that are committed to safety
Since the pandemic, airlines and hotels are offering more change and cancellation policy options than ever before. Policies vary by provider, so understanding what you are buying and the risks involved is important, just a Travellist or certified agent will help you understand your rights and options if this changes.
Choosing a travel insurance company that is clear and concise about its COVID travel coverage is non- negotiable for peace of mind, this mean you know your risks and obligations before you plan a trip. This means if you happen to get COVID-19 while overseas, your medical expenses would be taken care and the money you have invested is protected if you need to cancel or interrupt a trip due to sickness.
Look for signs that show your chosen airline, hotel or vacation rental is taking the pandemic seriously. Before you commit to a provider you can check if they are educating travelers on local laws and guidelines and review their professional commitment to enhanced cleaning protocols etc. Once in a destination, choose eateries, attractions or entertainment venues that utilize social distancing, provide masks and make hand sanitizer available.
Many destinations such as Canada and New Zealand have introduced vaccine requirements or "passports" which requires customers at certain venues, including restaurants, to present proof of vaccination to enter. The knowledge of this could be the difference between you eating you way around Italy or eating from just a room service menu for your trip.
The Final Word
‘Expect the best but prepare for the worst’ is a great mantra for the modern traveler, even though vaccine rates are rising, there are important preparations and precautions needed to protect yourself and others. Travel is a privilege, not a right, being a global citizen means being aware of, and understanding what's happening in the wider world – and your place in it. These conscientious actions will mean you're taking an active, responsible role as part of the worldwide community.