NOTE: Information in this article is accurate as of January 26, 2022
As a travel advisor, my mission is to create a beautiful, customized, and amazing trip for you and your families – I do all the work, so all you have to do is enjoy your vacation and create your memories. I say this because never has this been as important as it is now. We are now in 2022, and planning travel is as complicated as ever. You may be thinking about future travel plans and are itching to start planning your next vacation. But, you have heard about new travel restrictions and protocols and simply are confused by them and what you should do. It’s ok. It is confusing. That’s why travel advisors like me exist – to keep track of the endless changes and updates. I do all the work so you don’t have to.
The world is opening up and ready to welcome you. Having said that, what are the latest regulations? Do you need to be vaccinated to travel? Do you need pre-travel tests? Here are some of the latest developments that you need to be aware of and some of the most recent guidance.
VACCINATIONS AND BOOSTERS
Let’s face it. Vaccines are a way of life now and many countries are recognizing that and allowing vaccinated individuals in without quarantine. If you are fully vaccinated, you can travel unfettered throughout most of the world. That does not mean if you are unvaccinated you can’t travel. You just need to understand that you may face possible quarantine upon entry and additional testing or other restrictions while in destination. For example, several countries require guests to show proof of vaccination in order to enter certain establishments. France now requires people to show proof of inoculation to enter restaurants and cafes and to ride long-distance trains. Previously, visitors could show either proof of vaccination or a negative test.
What does it mean to be fully vaccinated? That is an important question because, in addition to the standard vaccines, some places are beginning to require boosters in order to be considered fully vaccinated or factoring in boosters when establishing new travel rules. Hawaii will begin requiring in mid-February all vaccinated visitors to the state to have a booster to be considered fully vaccinated. Without the booster, you will not be allowed into Hawaii, even if you have received both shots of the vaccine (or one in the case of Johnson and Johnson). The Czech Republic allows visitors with boosters to bypass the testing entry requirement.
Here is a good list of countries that allow unvaccinated travelers and their entry requirements.
Testing is still widespread. There is a small handful of countries that do not require testing to enter such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic but count on taking a pre-travel test anywhere between 7 days to 1 day before departure depending on where you go, even if you are vaccinated. Even if you don’t need a test, it’s always good to get one. If you are unvaccinated, you may also need a test mid-stay Once you are in destination, you will need a test to return to the United States taken 1 day before your flight departs. Many resorts in the Caribbean provide those tests at no extra charge to you. In Europe, testing sites are plentiful and efficient – sometimes at the airport – and most have done an excellent job at getting results back on time. At One World Family Travel, LLC, one of my roles is to help my clients find the sites nearest to them and help arrange testing on a schedule that I map out for them.
Check out the US State Department website for up-to-date information about the particular country you wish to visit.
The cruise industry has been under intense scrutiny since it started welcoming back passengers in July 2021. Despite some of the bad press it has gotten, cruise lines have done an outstanding job in instituting new health and safety protocols per CDC guidelines. With ships sailing at reduced capacity and amazing sales happening all across the industry, this is a fabulous time to book your dream cruise.
However, keep in mind that almost all cruise lines require everyone to be vaccinated unless you are a child under 12. Virgin Voyages, the newest line to sail, is adults-only so every single passenger on board must have received the vaccine, no exceptions. Furthermore, all cruise lines require travelers to test before getting on the ship, either at home or at the port. Mask mandates are still in effect, so be prepared to wear masks in indoor spaces on the ships. And depending on the port, you may not be able to wander about on your own if anyone in your party is unvaccinated. For example, Nassau only allows vaccinated individuals off the ships to wander the island on their own. Unvaccinated people may only take excursions approved booked through their cruise line.
Air travel has been tricky lately. Staffing shortages have made flight cancellations much more frequent, leaving travelers stranded or delayed. There’s not much we can do about a cancellation, but we can lessen the blow by careful planning. When booking your flights, make sure you book yourself on an airline that has multiple flights during the day to your destination (not always a possibility to some destinations). Try to book yourself on a flight early in the day, that way if your flight is canceled and delayed, you have a better chance of getting out that day. Book early – the closer you get to travel the more expensive it will be and airfare overall is expected to just get more expensive this year. And always familiarize yourself with your airline’s Contract of Carriage which lays out their responsibilities to you.
While there are no vaccine requirements for domestic travel, remember your pre-travel tests for international flights. You will not be permitted to board without them. And yes, mask mandates are in effect on planes. You will be put off the plane if you don’t comply.
Should you buy it or shouldn’t you? Yes, yes, yes! A thousand times yes! General travel insurance does not pandemics and epidemics, meaning you cannot cancel because you simply do not feel safe traveling. But it will cover you if you have to cancel because you have become ill with COVID before or during your trip. It will also protect you in the event of trip delay, trip interruption, baggage delay, baggage loss, and many other things. You can also get a policy that has some sort of Cancel for Any Reason protection in the event you need to cancel for a reason that isn’t covered. Your trip cost a lot of money. Why would you not spend a little extra to protect it?
BE FLEXIBLE AND PATIENT
This is probably the number one consideration when planning your next trip. No one, even those of us in the industry, knows when a destination or a travel supplier will change its policies. Understand that we are still living in unusual times so the travel of today is not the same as what we are used to pre-2020. Chances are travel will never be like that again. Please be patient as we all navigate through these twists and turns, and trust that travel advisors such as myself have your best interests in mind and will make sure your trip goes as smooth as possible no matter.
This is just a general overview. When you book a trip with me, we will go over the details much more in-depth. So, don’t be afraid to book a vacation for later this year or in 2023. I am here to help you. I will help you find the best place to visit, create the best package for you, and help you navigate the rules and policies because I love the fine print. My goal is to create experiences for families to expand their outlook on life and the world and create memories that last a lifetime. Let’s do it!!
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out these articles:
Cruise ships are back – what it was like to sail again
Adults-only cruising on Virgin Voyages