On August 6, after several months of warnings against travel abroad, the U.S. Department of State lifted the Global Level 4 Travel Advisory it put in place at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Finally, international travel is possible again – but where can you go, and what should you expect when you arrive? Read on for a guide to traveling safely and making the most of your options during the remainder of the pandemic era. Check out everything you need to know about travel internationally.
How Have Restrictions Changed?
During April and May, as COVID-19 became a major problem in the U.S., dozens of countries closed their borders to American leisure travelers, and many of those nations are still restricting travel. As of the State Department’s updated guidelines on August 6, Canada and European Union member states are still not permitting vacationers from the U.S. through their borders. E.U. countries may opt to allow American visitors within their own borders, which some tourist-friendly nations like Croatia have done. In general, though, your travel horizons are restricted to Mexico, French Polynesia, and several Caribbean islands.
That’s definitely not the worst news in the world, especially since you can scoop up great deals on a Bahamas cruise from Miami right now if you’ve been waiting for the right time to plan a vacation. The vast majority of cruise lines and airlines are offering generous change and cancellation policies to accommodate the unavoidable changes in conditions that may occur between booking and travel, so don’t worry that you’ll lose your ticket if the vacation date you choose happens to arrive during an outbreak surge. You can always reschedule and take your vacation when you feel safe.
Is It Safe To Travel Right Now?
The safety precautions you’re used to observing at home apply abroad as well. Wear a mask whenever possible, avoid exposure to dense crowds and poorly ventilated areas, and make sure to frequently clean your hands and any high-touch surfaces with which you come in contact.
Although there was widespread confusion about what to clean (and how to clean it) in the early days of the outbreak, epidemiologists and infectious disease experts appear to have largely reached a consensus that you don’t need to stress about getting COVID-19 through food. Luckily, this even applies to restaurant meals you eat on vacation! You should still avoid sharing plates, bowls, and other utensils with your fellow diners, as they may carry droplets that contain the virus. As long as you stick to sensible precautions and avoid extremely high-risk activities, you’ll be as safe venturing out while traveling as you would be visiting local businesses at home.
What Are Conditions Abroad Like?
Entry restrictions vary widely between different destination countries. For instance, while Croatia is one of the few E.U. member states to allow Americans to visit, you’ll be expected to pay $230 for a COVID-19 nasal swab test, and local authorities are enforcing quarantine with fines that start at $1,200 for first-time offenders. Be sure to get the latest information about your destination country’s requirements for visitors before you depart. It’s also important to be mindful of how current conditions could impact your travel plans. Many nations are still enforcing limited lockdowns, especially during periods of high community transmission, so be sure that hotels, restaurants, and attractions are open when you leave. Remember, even if conditions change, you’ll have extra flexibility to reschedule your travel plans. You often won’t have to make a final decision until just a few days before your intended departure date.
After months of restricted movement, it’s exciting to finally have the opportunity to make travel plans again! Thankfully, you don’t have to wait for a vaccine to book a vacation if you choose flexible booking options and observe public health guidelines. You may not be able to travel to any country in the world, but if you’re craving a change of scenery, now’s the time to think about how you can make it happen safely.