Aruban sunset

Traveling During a Pandemic

Traveling During a Pandemic

Aruban sunset photographed by Alisa Harrison

Whether you’re vaccinated, plan to get vaccinated, or have decided not to, at some point, you’re probably going to venture out. Sooner or later, the travel bug will hit you. If you love to travel internationally, this is for you.

Where would you like to go?

Every country has its own entry requirements for travelers and those requirements may vary for land travel versus air travel. Before you book a hotel or start looking for flights, find out if that country is even “open” to travelers. If so, find out what documentation is required before you continue with travel plans.

While a few countries may only require you to answer a few questions regarding your COVID-19 status, others may require a negative test within 72 hours of your flight, along with their specific type of travel insurance and sometimes other documentation for entry.

CDC Guidelines

If your travel involves entry into the United States, check the Updated CDC Guidelines for COVID-19 Travel Health Information.

As of April 2, 2021, the CDC has stated that “Fully vaccinated people must still have a negative COVID-19 test result before they board a flight to the United States…” That requirement is the same for non-vaccinated people. So yes, even if your journey originated from the United States, and you’re just looking to get back, you MUST present a negative COVID-19 test to your airline before you can board. That requires determining where you’ll take your COVID-19 test while abroad and making sure you have those results before your flight back to the United States.

What does fully vaccinated mean?

According to the CDC, you are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after your second vaccination shot if you had a 2-dose shot. If you took Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, you are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after your 1-dose shot.

Fully vaccinated?

Check out this list of “Countries that are open to vaccinated travelers”.  

beach resort in Aruba

Aruba beach resort photographed by Alisa Harrison

 Don't forget these items

• Extra masks. There’s nothing worse than  going through airport security and having the elastic on your mask break without a backup mask ready. (Speaking from experience.)
• Hand sanitizer. You will encounter an incredible amount of touch-points during your travels. Carry a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer with you and use it.
• A printout of all documentation required for entry. If you have access to a printer, print out your COVID-19 results along with anything else that is required. Surprisingly, some airport agents aren’t interested in a screenshot or email on your phone. (Again, speaking from experience.)

How to mentally prepare

Arrive early. If you’re flying, consider arriving at the airport 3 hours before your flight. That way, you’re not feeling the anxiety of being rushed because of slow, long lines. And if you usually fly first class, do not be surprised if there is not a first-class ticket counter open. Unfortunately, some airlines have this lane closed during the first few hours of the morning requiring you to stand in line with us commoners.   

Practice patience. You’re traveling during a pandemic and requirements are constantly changing. So expect some passengers to be under-prepared, which may cause airport lines to move slower than normal.

Be courteous. It’s an inconvenience for everyone involved for you to travel during this time. Being polite doesn’t cost anything. It is truly a privilege to be able to safely travel during a pandemic, so try not to make it difficult for those you encounter during your journey.

Expect Curfews. Some countries currently have curfews in place even for the beach. For instance, if you plan to travel to Aruba, as of this writing, all establishments including bars and restaurants must close by 9 p.m. and people have to be off the street no later than 10 p.m. The only exception is for onsite resort establishments. However, the beach curfew still applies.

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