Travel is understandably a lot different these days, and it's especially different if you're planning to travel internationally. International travel to some destinations is available now for U.S. travelers - if you're thinking of a trip out of the country for a vacation, here are some of the things you need to know about traveling internationally now.
Some destinations are open now to U.S. travelers, though many popular tourist destinations aren't available quite yet. For those interested in a vacation, many Caribbean islands and resort areas in Mexico are open to travel, as well as some Central and South American countries. With some exceptions, other popular summer destinations for U.S. vacationers like most of Europe are not yet open to American tourism.
If you're heading to a destination that is open and welcoming tourists, in most cases you'll need to get a negative COVID test to present before boarding your flight. The type of COVID test, and how close to departure you'll need to get it, will vary by country. Most are requiring the test to be taken 3-5 days before travel, and most do not accept antigen or antibody tests, or tests done with home test kits. Be sure to thoroughly review the testing requirements for any destination you're visiting.
Some countries allowing tourism also have quarantine requirements. For many destinations, having a negative COVID test means you won't have to quarantine, but this isn't the case for some countries - some still require a quarantine even with a negative test, such as Barbados. Nearly all destinations currently open also have quarantine protocols in place should a traveler display symptoms or test positive upon arrival. Some destinations, like Turks & Caicos and Costa Rica, also require that guests have insurance that can cover the cost of quarantine accommodations if they should test positive while at their destination.
What If I'm Vaccinated?
As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, more and more travelers are wondering how being vaccinated affects their status when it comes to travel requirements. For now, most destinations that require testing or quarantine are still requiring it regardless of vaccination status, but there are signs that this is changing. For example, the Bahamas has introduced new protocols for fully vaccinated travelers that exempts them from testing requirements, and Barbados has plans to loosen quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers. As more travelers are vaccinated, it's likely that we'll see more options like this - but for now, keep in mind that being vaccinated doesn't automatically exempt you from getting a negative test or quarantine requirements at all destinations.
Returning to the US
For your return trip to the United States, you'll also need a negative COVID test taken less than 72 hours before departure. Many resorts and hotels located in popular tourist areas are providing these at no additional cost to their guests, but be sure to check with your accommodations or travel agent for options. You will need to have your negative test results in order to return to the US, even if you're fully vaccinated.
Over the past year, many travel providers, hotels, airlines, and cruise lines have made updates to their cancellation policies to be more flexible due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic. There are still many relaxed change and cancellation policies in place - but, that doesn't necessarily mean that you should assume you'll get a refund if you cancel at the last minute. For the most part, airlines are allowing guests to reschedule their flights without being subject to change fees, and many resorts and hotels are doing the same, but in many cases refunds may not be available. Be sure that you review any change or cancellation policies carefully before booking.
If you're feeling overwhelmed or confused by current travel requirements, then be sure to work with an expert that can help you with all of this! Contact our Travel Pros to get started.