It may seem like COVID-19 restrictions are easing up right and left. But with the World Health Organization still tracking hundreds of millions of confirmed cases around the globe, travel can still be uncertain. Depending on where you want to visit, it can be daunting to figure out whether it’s safe and what precautions and requirements are needed before you go.
A recent survey from Destination Analysts found more than 40% of Americans have some reservations that may keep them from traveling. Respondents said concerns about the safety of others and themselves as well as COVID-19 variants are key considerations when they worry about travel.
One way to ease concerns is to be well-informed. Websites and apps are available to answer nearly every question you have before booking your next vacation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a great resource to know your risk before traveling anywhere. A color-coded map gives an assessment of each country at a glance and one click gives customized information about vaccination requirements. There is also a Travel Planner for domestic travel with quarantine requirements, locations closed to travelers, gathering size limits and mask mandates.
The U.S. Department of State website also has country specific information for travelers including if they are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before entering a country. The website will tell you whether U.S. citizens are permitted to enter the country, if there is a curfew in place and whether visitors will need to quarantine upon entering a country. There is also an option to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program that allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Travelers can then get important information about safety conditions in the country and help the U.S. Embassy contact them in an emergency such as a natural disaster, civil unrest or a family emergency.
The COVID Controls website has an interactive world map that can be color-coded by various identifiers like lockdown status, percentage of people vaccinated or traveler entry requirements. Users can click on any country to find out how many people are currently sick, vaccinated and if the outbreak trend is increasing or declining. There is a toggle switch to note whether you are vaccinated and the website will give you specific instructions for the country regarding entry, masks and testing and quarantine requirements. In France, for instance, right now unvaccinated people arriving in the country must wear masks in enclosed public places and quarantine for seven days. If you flip the switch to vaccinated, then it informs you that travelers who arrive from green list countries with an appropriate vaccine certificate can enter without any health measure. And those arriving from orange countries (this is the current designation for the U.S.) must present a negative test.
The TripIt app is a one-stop destination for all your travel details. No matter where you book, TripIt organizes all the plans and creates a master itinerary. Its Traveler Resource Center helps you know what to expect regarding COVID-19 the next time you travel. For each destination, you can find out rules and regulations from public health officials and learn how travel providers are handling cancellations, refunds and credits. Plus it has some great resources on digital health passports, infection rates and any restrictions and requirements for the place you plan to visit. I’m visiting Oregon next week and after the app synced all my travel information, it informed me that the state has a high infection rate and that masks are required in all indoor public spaces, but no health documentation is required. The app also let me know that the airline I’m flying requires masks and uses HEPA filters.
Omio has a website and an app to help you book flights, buses, trains and ferries. But check out its Open Travel Index to find out the latest COVID-19 travel disruption information. Search for countries to find out entry and return regulations and to learn what rules you’ll need to follow while visiting that country.
No matter where you plan to travel, information is key to staying safe and healthy and to help keep others that way too. Before booking a vacation or business travel, it’s important to get COVID-19 guidance to be prepared, know what to expect and decide whether it’s a trip you want to take now, or wait for fewer restrictions and requirements.