More and more people are vaccinated leading to relaxed travel restrictions and countries emerging from lockdown. So although half the year is over, traveling is making a comeback in 2021. The thought of getting on a plane again doesn’t make make people as nervous as it used to.
But the travel climate has changed leading to loads of questions and information (whether good or bad) floating around. If you are ready to travel, whether it’s by plane or a road trip, there are some additional things you should keep in mind. For one, here’s 7 saving tips for international travel.
So then, what do you need to know about traveling during 2021? Here are the top 10 things on my list that you need to know for traveling in 2021.
DO I NEED TO TRAVEL WITH FLEXIBLE BOOKINGS?
Destinations can go from low to medium to high COVID risks pretty quickly, which can put a damper on your travel plans. Who wants to vacation in a place with a high COVID risk right? Hotels, airlines and tour companies understand this and are making it easier to cancel or change travel plans within weeks or even days of your departure date.
Hotels, airlines and tour companies understand this and are making it easier to cancel or change travel plans within weeks or even days of your departure date. Travelzoo advertises a full refund policy on most of their bookings if you cancel even up to days before your trip. It even allows you to book discounted travel right now and fill in the travel dates later, even up to two year later. And the perk is that many of these deeply discounted refundable advanced bookings are to bucket list destinations like Maldives, Greece and Turkey.
Many hotels such as Hyatt are advertising a 24 or 72 hour cancellation policy, even with their prepaid rates. This is on top of the many deals being advertised right now, such as discount rooms, room upgrades and some are even offering resort credit.
With so many companies offering no fee last minute refunds and rebookings, it shouldn’t be hard to grab a flexible vacay!
DO I NEED TO FOLLOW SPECIFIC COVID POLICIES AND ADVISORIES FOR TRAVELING?
Where can you travel with a COVID vaccine? Do you need a negative COVID test to travel international? What countries are open for travelers?
The U.S. Department of State and the Center for Disease Control each maintain travel warnings for different areas of the world. The CDC rates countries by risk levels from 1 to 4 (low to high) and unknown. And specifically recommending not traveling to countries in level 4. What’s nice is CDC includes guidance for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.
Just because a country is open for non-essential travel, doesn’t mean it’s open to everyone. Destinations may be open to UK travelers, but not US travelers. Be sure to check your final destination’s local rules when it comes to who can enter the country.
Also check your destination’s restrictions as many countries may still require visitors to quarantine or show proof of a negative COVID test, even if you are vaccinated. And some destination require a specific type of COVID test, usually a PCR test (polymerase chain reaction) as these tests are the most reliable tests for detecting active COVID-19 infections.
All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before travel departure to the United States.
Some tests may take a few days for results, and most destinations require the negative test to be performed within a narrow window of arrival, usually 72 hours. For convenience, many destination resorts are offering on-site travel approved COVID testing. Some are offered free as an incentive for booking. BUT ALWAYS CHECK COVID REQUIREMENTS!
TRAVELER’S TIP: Be sure to check EACH country’s COVID requirements when flying through different countries. Even if you have a layover on the way to your final destination, the layover country may still require a negative COVID test even for anyone passing through.
DO I NEED A VACCINE PASSPORT FOR TRAVELING?
In the past month, several countries have started opening to vaccinated travelers only and several countries have relaxed COVID requirements for vaccinated travelers. So what about a vaccine passport?
This topic has been hotly debated for several reasons. The world lacks a global tracking system. Some countries only approved certain vaccines. And of course, people have purchased fake vaccine cards from mainstream marketplaces such as Ebay. But the EU and Israel are already launching a passport system, and even airlines are interested in a digital universal passport system.
Here in the US, Clear Health Pass is already being used at some major stadiums, museums and and airports to show proof of vaccine status.
Although it may be off the table for many countries, several countries in the world are still interested, so be on the lookout for how this develops and whether YOU need to obtain one too.
I really like this adorable passport holder for carrying my passport and vaccine card.
DO I NEED TO GET TRAVEL INSURANCE?
Travel insurance companies are now offering pandemic-related coverage. Although it can be pricey, you can travel with peace of mind. Policies range from medical expenses, trip rescheduling, and quarantine expenses.
Consider comparing quotes and reviews at insuremytrip.com or squaremouth.com. In fact, Forbes put out a list of Best Pandemic Travel Insurance plans. My personal favorites are Allianz and World Nomads.
TRAVELER’S TIP: Be sure to check insurance coverage for your destination country. Many countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico and Jordan are requiring visitors to have COVID specific medical insurance in order to enter.
DO I NEED TO USE A TRAVEL AGENT?
Why use a travel agent? When in doubt, consult a pro! A good travel advisor will keep up on everything from travel insurance to COVID entry requirements. Another benefit is a good travel advisor will also be available and be your advocate if plans need to change and can help you navigate rebooking, vaccine requirements, hotel modifications and any last minute details, even while you are in travel!
Travel agents can also help you find all those crazy deals out there to suit your needs. They can find and book that much needed Caribbean beach vacation, historic city destination or all-inclusive safari to get back to nature. Want to extend your trip? Just call your travel agent from the top of the Eiffel Tower and continue to enjoy your extended vacation.
SHOULD I TRAVEL SLOW IN 2021?
If you’re like me and work a 9-5, when I get time off to travel, I like to go far and fast! It’s not uncommon for me to visit two or three different destinations in a week’s time. And even destinations such as hot temperatures in Dubai to the chilly and raining temperatures in London. You may say it’s loads of adventure in one trip!
But with the different testing and vaccine requirements, the ease of getting from one place to another is more difficult, even within the same country. If you have loads of activities and places to visit planned, just one thing going wrong can have a domino effect.
No doubt, it has been a trying year and getting away these days has been a real stress reliever. And we’re all ready to make up for lost time from 2020. But you should take it slow. Go to one place and relax and reconnect.
DO I NEED TO PACK ANYTHING EXTRA?
Don’t forget that your packing list just became longer. More: (1) hand sanitizer at least 60% ethyl alcohol; (2) alcohol wipes at least 70% alcohol for cleaning surfaces; (3) snacks for the plane in case of suspended food service, (4) thermometer, and (5) extra masks.
Then there’s vaccination cards and possibly proof of travel insurance for specific destinations. I personally love this all encompassing backpack as my carry-on for travel that’s lightweight and big enough to carry all the extra things I need to pack.
SHOULD I CONSIDER DOMESTIC TRAVEL?
Even though nonessential travel was for the most part prohibited, people reported still being uncomfortable to get on planes or trains anyway. This led to 2020 seeing a massive increase in sales for RV purchases. And with kids being schooled at home, family travel, including taking the four-legged kids, increased.
The RV’s also led to more and more people exploring their own backyard. Domestic travel, national park travel and road trips were the top activities everyone did that year.
After a year of doing it, people found out that they enjoyed exploring areas right outside their door! This led to domestic travel continuing to rise in 2021. Discovering off-the-beaten paths gave people a newfound appreciation for nature and that travel can still happen not far from your front door.
Exploring the 63 national parks across the U.S. replaced destinations like Paris and Santorini as the new “go to” destinations. Because of this, popular national parks started a reservation system, which meant that fewer people were on the trails. So it’s good to know that for summer 2021, these 6 national parks still require a reservation:
- California’s Yosemite National Park
- Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park
- Hawai‘i’s Haleakalā National Park
- Maine’s Acadia National Park
- Montana’s Glacier National Park
- Utah’s Zion National Park
TRAVELER’S TIP: Many Walmarts across the country permit overnight RV parking. “We do permit RV parking on our store parking lots as we are able. Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on availability of parking space and local laws.” – Walmart.com FAQ
WHAT ABOUT SOCIALLY DISTANCED DESTINATIONS?
Although people are ready to travel again in 2021, people are still uncomfortable with crowds. How about you? Resorts and tourism boards have been advertising socially distanced vacations. Rooms that are so distanced some include overwater bungalows and individual villas.
For example, single bungalows on stilts over water floating in the Pacific Ocean at Bora Bora or the Indian Ocean at the Maldives will be popular 2021 destinations. There’s even been a rise in AirBnB rentals. I can personally vouch for this. My family and I prefer hotels – I love room service, turndown service, a concierge, a greeting as I enter the building – but for the past year, we have mainly used AirBnBs for its socially distanced aspect.
We also have purposefully looked for isolated destination to enjoy. So what are some social distanced places to travel? National parks and hiking locations have been the top destination for 2020 travel. Stay in a cabin, RV park or even glamp and inhale the outdoors!
The beach is another socially distanced popular destination (unless you’re in Miami!). Destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean are highly liked because it allows people to get some sun on their indoor COVID produced bodies. These destinations have also been highly popular due to many resorts here are offering for free the necessary COVID tests to travel and even their own form of COVID insurance inclusive in the booking rate.
WILL I BE ABLE TO WORK WHILE TRAVELING?
After working remotely for over a year, many employees are not ready to return to the office and similarly, many companies have experienced a benefit to remote work. Which means that any place with a solid WIFI connection can double as an office.
Hotels and tourism boards have been advertising this too. The advertisements include providing high speed WIFI regardless of type of room booked or hotel elite status. For example, Aruba advertises One Happy Workation where you can “work from Paradise.” Get a major discount for booking a long term stay and meal plans can be included.
Another is from Work from Hyatt that offers packages such as daily food and beverage credit and daily resort fee waiver. Hyatt partners with the MGM resort chain in Las Vegas, who also advertised their own “Fly, Stay, Work, Play” campaign that was similar to Hyatt’s.
The office work scene has changed indefinitely for many people and the bottom line is THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON TRAVELING DURING 2021
Something that has always still been on the table is more lockdowns. If you follow the above tips, you should already have a plan in case your destination goes into lockdown again and you get stuck somewhere. But, let’s not think about that. With all the knowledge from the above guide, it’s time to book your travel and GO!
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Pin This Guide: Traveling in 2021