In part 3 of my series, I wanted to continue to share my learnings from my pandemic travel experiences based on our various US domestic and global travel experiences since March 2020. Even though our better global health situation is ever evolving, we are not rewinding time back to 2019. While your overall experience will be awesome, there are some additional steps you need to take to plan and prepare to travel responsibly and have fun!
Do your country/state research: This goes beyond just checking the CDC guidelines or state government of which countries are open or not to travelers. This also requires research at the country level via the travel ministry / tourism visitor website to know the requirements for entry (e.g. testing, health assessment, downloading apps, etc). CNN Travel frequently publishes the list of countries with links to respective country websites that provide the detailed requirements to enter/exit the country.
Consider buying travel insurance: Although travel has increased a lot compared to last year, with rules changing frequently, travel insurance has been an option for many when dealing with baggage issues, trip cancellation/interruption, and, in some cases, emergency medical expenses. Also, this is a requirement to enter some countries. For an additional few hundred dollars, you are protected for canceled trips and anything else that may happen. Money Magazine has provided an in-depth resource about the best travel insurance and enables you to search various coverage options.
Confirm COVID testing (based on my experiences with our recent travel to Central America, Caribbean islands, and Africa): Regardless of vaccination status, various countries require you to take a COVID test to enter and you need another COVID test to return to the US.
- To travel, you must check the country specific rules to determine which tests are accepted (PCR or Rapid Antigen) and the time duration (72 hours vs. 48 hours prior). Please note, every country has different rules of exit and re-entry (e.g. US has their specific rules which are not necessarily the same around the world).
- For example, Egypt did require all passengers boarding an intentional flight to have a negative COVID PCR test and it must also be a printed copy sealed by the health ministry (digital copies were not accepted).
- For return to the US, not all countries or hotels offer testing. Testing sometimes can be offered at various hotels (onsite for free or a fee) in Central America and the Caribbean, but this is not guaranteed. This will be added expenses, and can be $200 per person to obtain the service and within the current 24-hour results that you need (this is a new rule vs. the prior 72 hours before departure flight). In our travels to Africa and Europe during the pandemic, this was not offered to us at the hotels. Our testing was arranged by our tour guides and/or hotel concierge provided us names of facilities we can go to for the appropriate testing.
Remember, your travel experience will still be awesome! There are just some extra planning steps in the process to ensure you have an amazing and safe experience.