Image courtesy of Annie Spratt / Unsplash
It's finally Summer 2021
We’ve come a long way since March 2020 to get to today. Vaccinations are up and cases are going down in many places (though keep an eye out for variants springing up). Testing and quarantine requirements are easing, as are CDC travel restrictions. We are turning a corner and re-opening our cities, businesses and lives. We’re not fully out of the pandemic yet, but it’s feeling safe again to travel for those who are fully vaccinated.
However, many parts of the world are still reeling from the effects of coronavirus and the new variants popping up. In many places, including some regions of the U.S., cases are on the rise and vaccination rollouts are struggling to keep pace. Travelers and adventurers like us are navigating plenty of uncertainties in the current pandemic stage.
We want to make sure we are all traveling safe. We certainly are trying to keep up with the latest news and restrictions, and always checking the U.S. State Department travel advisories before any trip. We recommend doing the same when planning and just before leaving on any new travel trips, here in the U.S. and abroad.
Here's what you should know before you plan that next trip.
Where is opening up?
Image courtesy of James Lee / Unsplash
Starting in June, travel restrictions placed on citizens of the U.S. and several other countries were lifted for traveling to and from the European Union. Many countries like Italy, Greece, France, and Croatia are reopening travel to Americans starting in June and July. A major part of the EU plan is the use of the standardized digital COVID certificate that is coming soon to EU member states.
As well as Europe, most countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia are once again open to travelers starting this summer. Though each country has its own travel restrictions and requirements (quarantines upon arrival, negative PCR COVID-19 Tests, vaccination records, etc).
While many countries have reopened their borders, the State Department still advises caution and reconsideration of pretty much all international travel right now. It’s up to your discretion, for a comprehensive collection of country-by-country requirements at this time, Travel + Leisure put together an awesome guide that we often refer back to.
Some openings are impacted by new variants. Always check for the latest information, before booking anything and before going anywhere. Always check the CDC, State Department, and local government agency sites for advisories and updates about your travel destinations.
What do you need to travel again?
Image courtesy of CDC.gov website
Full vaccination and vaccination record. In order to safely travel and travel without restrictions sooner, it is highly recommended, and potentially may be required, for would-be travelers to have proof of their full vaccination against the COVID-19 virus. Everyone who can should get vaccinated. And if you are looking to travel again soon, this means you.
We keep our vaccine cards with our passports and will keep them there for some time. Many places are now giving travelers the option to show proof of full vaccination (defined as 14 days after final vaccine dose) as an alternative to requiring quarantines and multiple negative PCR COVID-19 test results.
The European Union is in the process of implementing “vaccine passports” with the launch of the EU Digital Covid Certificate. All EU member countries will be able to start issuing these certificates for citizens who are fully vaccinated starting this July. These certificates will allow EU citizens to travel freely throughout the EU once again during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other countries, like the United States may follow suit with similar systems for their citizens to show credible digital proof of vaccination and regain full freedom of travel to many places abroad.
Make sure your travel documents are updated. If you haven’t traveled since the start of the pandemic more than a year ago, it’s worth making sure all of your regular travel documents are up-to-date. You would hate to only find out at the gate that your passport is expired, or that you needed a visa to travel to that country with or even without pandemic restrictions.
Image courtesy of Hanson Lu / Unsplash
Covid-tested-flights are beginning to be options for international travelers (We expect to see more of them in the future too). Some carriers like All-Italia are starting test runs of such flights. While the requirements for these flights are not much more stringent than the current requirements on all flights, the name and perception of increased safety and security are anticipated to ease anxious travelers in the future.
Negative PCR COVID-19 Tests are a pretty standard requirement for entering any country right now, oftentimes whether or not you are fully vaccinated. This is still a requirement for entering and re-entering the United States as well. If not a PCR test, then some other recognized rapid antigen COVID-19 test with a negative result within the past 48-72 hours.
Are quarantines still a thing for traveling?
Image courtesy of Johnny Cohen / Unsplash
Yes, in many places depending on where you are going to and coming from. Fully vaccinated American citizens no longer need to self-quarantine after arriving back to the U.S. after traveling abroad. However, it still varies depending on the country and region you are traveling to whether there are quarantine requirements. Make sure you are fully aware of all the quarantine restrictions for your intended destinations. You’d hate to take a two week trip somewhere to spend all two-weeks confined to your hotel.
Coronavirus Safety (at this stage of the pandemic)
Image courtesy of Courtney Coles / Unsplash
Get your vaccine and wait two weeks before traveling. We really can't stress it enough, we all need to do our part to end this pandemic and keep each other safe. There are those few people who are truly immunocompromised and cannot get the vaccine, and for them we have even more imperative for the people who can get vaccinated to do so.
You should still pack masks and wear them when required or advised. For international travel it is almost a given that you will need to mask up and should be. For domestic travel within the United States it depends. Travel hubs and many businesses are still mandating it, and in many cases, it is still a better option than not wearing masks. If you are unvaccinated, don’t travel, but if you must, then you absolutely have to continue wearing protective masks.