Traveling after being vaccinated? Here’s what you need to know

Oh, what a difference a year makes. It looks like after more than 12 months filled with a pandemic of wishlist travel and favorites and exotic getaways, many (but not all) may finally find themselves giving the green light to their travel plans. Yes, the rollout of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the reopening of cities and countries around the world, and the CDC’s relaxed regulations have people ready to move again – and the numbers don’t lie. Almost nine in ten American travelers plan to travel in the next six months, according to a May 2021 report by the US Travel Association. And with most states across the country dropping mask-wearing mandates for fully vaccinated people (i.e. two weeks after your second Pfizer or Moderna injection or two weeks after your Johnson & Johnson), you’d think that life and travel are back to their fancy. pre-COVID ways. But, travel experts and medical professionals say there are still things to keep in mind before hitting the road.

First of all, it’s important to note that even though being vaccinated makes you less likely to spread and contract COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) says international travel can still pose additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers could still be at risk of contracting and possibly spreading new strains of the virus. “The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new or worrying variants, differs from country to country,” the site’s travel advisory read. “All travelers should pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling. “

Additionally, while 47% of the United States is fully vaccinated (according to CDC data) at the time of publication, the same cannot be said for the rest of the world. In fact, recently discovered variants of the virus are forcing cities in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region to adopt a strict lockdown mode. And, many countries still require masks or face coverings in indoor and outdoor locations, with bars and nightclubs remaining closed, while others open slowly, but with capacity restrictions.

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“Because vaccines are less widely available abroad than in the United States, Americans should know that freedom of movement, without masks, without restrictions (outside of doctor’s offices) is not the norm in the country. ‘foreigner,’ says Warren Jaferian, dean of the International Education office at Endicott College at TZR. “As Europe opens up to American tourists and other non-essential travelers, many restaurants, hotels and other tourism dependent places may be closed, permanently, from a practical and logistical point of view. Expect social distancing, hand washing and masking to be in place, and other restrictions Americans were all too familiar with during our first and second waves of COVID-19. ”

Also something to plan: quarantine. “Even if your destination is on the green list, things can change quickly,” says Dr Daniel Atkinson, general practitioner and clinical manager at for TZR. “If you are expected in person at work or have other commitments like feeding pets, make sure you have made arrangements in case you need to unexpectedly self-isolate.”

In fact, Dr Atkinson goes so far as to note that, if you can wait another six months, one might consider postponing international travel until 2022. This is mainly due to the influx of pedestrians who fill the airports and the streets. hotels. “It’s a matter of personal preference, but it should be borne in mind that when travel restrictions to a country are relaxed there will be a rush of people booking to visit that place,” he says. “We saw it earlier this year with Portugal.”

That said, if you have to make sudden changes due to travel restrictions or anything else, you will find many airlines like Southwest and American as well as many hotel chains like Hilton and Marriott offer flexible cancellation policies that include refunds or credits on non-refundable flights and free refunds on hotel stays up to 24 hours in advance. And as flights fill up to capacity again, airlines are also taking steps to help keep them safe and healthy as convenient as possible. Delta just announced a new partnership with the AZOVA digital health technology platform to provide rapid testing options for travelers.

If checking all of these boxes seems like a lot of work, that’s because it is. In addition to adhering to CDC guidelines, travel agent and LaVon Travel owner Tiffany Layne says it’s crucial for travelers to research the official government websites of the countries or destinations they are considering. “Each country has its own entry and testing requirements which many travelers should be aware of depending on where they choose to travel,” Layne told TZR via email. “Every traveler should consider hiring a travel professional to help them navigate these fluid times and take the stress out of planning. “

With that, many businesses and hotels are also stepping up their game to help you prepare for your trip this year. Airbnb recently announced its partnership with the global travel advisory platform Sherpa, an online tool that provides travelers with real-time travel rules for their destinations. “Travelers can explore the destinations and obtain information on the corresponding requirements related to COVID-19, such as testing, quarantine and mask guidelines,” an official press release from Airbnb reads. “The integration of Sherpa into our platform is another resource for our community that will help support the return of international travel in the coming months.”

Oh, and last but not least, make sure you have travel insurance. According to a May 2021 report published by Adroit Market Research, the global travel insurance market was “set at $ 21 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $ 40 billion by 2028 due to increased tourism in the world”. Yes, Dr Atkinson explains that although considered an unpleasant inconvenience before COVID, getting sick or stranded abroad became much more delicate after March 2020. “With the coronavirus in greater numbers in some countries, varying vaccine populations and variants appearing in different parts of the world, the net risk of ending up in a foreign hospital has likely increased,” he explains. “And with that comes the medical costs. So if you normally attempt to do this on short trips by not taking out a policy, I would definitely advise against doing it now. It’s not worth the shot.”

If you think you are having symptoms of coronavirus, including fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before getting tested. If you are concerned about the virus spreading in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek mental health support.

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