When it comes to international travel right now, the world isn’t exactly just anyone’s oyster, but it could be your shrimp cocktail. In other words, many countries are still closed to tourists, but many beautiful destinations are finally opening their doors.
Indeed, even the European Union recently decided to unlock the doors for many tourists, including vaccinated Americans. And, even better, many countries have waived (or will waive soon) these pesky quarantine requirements. This means that you no longer need to include an additional 10 days of travel without travel in your plans.
At the same time, things are not exactly the way they used to be. The post-COVID travel world has its fair share of complications, many of which will lead to additional planning and expense. Here are some things to know before you cash in your travel rewards this summer.
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1. You will probably need to get the vaccine
Of course, not all countries that allow American tourists will require you to be vaccinated, but most European countries certainly will. You will need to show your proof of vaccination before you are allowed to enter your destination. Your CDC card should be sufficient in most cases. Without it, you could be turned away before you even set foot on foreign soil.
Even if you’re heading to a country that doesn’t require travelers to be vaccinated, unvaccinated travelers will likely have to overcome many hurdles. Some countries will require unvaccinated travelers to be quarantined upon arrival (and, yes, you will pay for that yourself). At the very least, you will likely need to take multiple COVID-19 tests if you don’t have the proper vaccination documents.
2. Testing is common – and at your expense
Speaking of testing, be prepared to show a negative COVID-19 test result before you travel. In fact, many countries will require a negative test before you arrive, even if you are vaccinated. Most countries require that the test be taken no later than 72 hours before your arrival.
In some cases, you won’t just need to test before you arrive – you will also need to test after you’ve been there for a few days. Some places require a negative test two to three days after your arrival, and other countries may require a third test after five to ten days. And, just like quarantines, these tests are not paid for by the places you visit; the cost comes from your poached. So make sure your personal finance budget is prepared.
3. Country skipping may not be possible
If you are looking forward to a trip to multiple countries, you may need to think again. While some countries will be open to visitors regardless of where they have been, most countries will want to know where you have been in the past 10-14 days. And if they don’t like your answer, they might not let you in. This is especially true if you are spending time in a country with a high number of coronavirus cases. Be sure to check the entry / exit requirements for each country on your sightseeing list.
4. Masks are still mandatory in most countries
Although the United States has decided to throw the masks in the wind, most other countries are not so relaxed about letting your aerosols fly freely. Many countries still have sturdy mask mandates for public transport and in public buildings. And unlike the United States, many other countries will impose stiff fines if you are caught without a mask in public. So make sure you bring enough clean masks for your entire trip – just in case.
5. Be prepared for curfews, closures and capacity limits
A number of countries are still subject to various forms of foreclosure, even though they are open to tourists. In some places, this means strict curfews on travel after dark. It could also mean that some businesses are still closed, in whole or in part. For example, restaurants may be open for take out, but will not allow you to sit inside and eat.
Another thing to expect is capacity limits, especially at popular tourist stops. Plan to be flexible about where and when you can go to certain attractions.
6. Travel health insurance is compulsory in many countries.
It is always a good idea to purchase health insurance when traveling. You never know what might happen overseas, and most U.S. insurance policies won’t cover you outside the country. And, of course, that will double to travel amid a global pandemic that has already killed millions of people. But while you can risk it without insurance, your destination country may not. Some countries will require you to have proof of sufficient medical coverage to cover coronavirus care before you are allowed to enter the country.
7. You will need a negative test to go home.
While restrictions in the United States have all but evaporated in many areas, we are not that lax at the border. If you leave the country and travel abroad, you will need to present a negative COVID-19 test before you can return. The test result should not be older than 72 hours. Conveniently, multiple home COVID-19 tests are accepted, so consider packing a few before you go to make sure you have what you need to come back.
Plan, plan and plan – then plan even more
Traveling abroad is rarely easy, even in the absence of a global pandemic. But it’s much more complicated right now, even in countries with few restrictions. Make sure you plan your trip well, including researching all the destinations on your agenda. And don’t forget the local restrictions. It is good to familiarize yourself with the national rules, but local towns or villages may also have additional requirements that you should be aware of.