As the United States starts to open up again, on the top of a lot of peoples’ minds is a well-earned summer vacation. Yes, after more than a year of restrictions and avoidance, many of us are ready to board a plane, stay in a hotel, and spend some time on self-care and relaxation once again.
However, COVID travel restrictions can add a new layer of complexity to our summer vacations. And, now that we are more aware of just how many things are covered in germs, some of us may have additional concerns as we return to traveling.
Connect-UV took the time to research summer travel, to save you time and worry!
ARE COVID TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS STILL IN PLACE?
Restrictions are changing rapidly based on vaccination rates and active COVID cases. It is best to check restrictions on your desired destination before you book and be familiar with what will be required of you. Unexpected closures of popular tourist destinations can be a big disappointment and one that can be avoided by a little research.
Domestic travel is much easier right now than international travel. There are a lot of amazing destinations within the United States for those longing to explore somewhere new. American territories are excluded from testing requirements for American travelers, making them a great option for families looking to travel somewhere tropical. National Parks and destinations like Disneyworld are also popular for their outside nature and easy ability to distance themselves from other travelers, but you can expect long lines and delays are many of these places as Americans scratch that travel itch. You can use this Travel Planner offered by the CDC to check on restrictions before you travel to another state. Or, you can visit your state’s tourism bureau to learn about exciting travel opportunities close to home.
If an international trip is on your mind, COVID-19 testing is required for everyone entering the United States, even American citizens returning from vacation. Additionally, many countries are closed to travel, require testing prior to arrival, or quarantine after arrival. These restrictions are changing. The EU recently announced that it will be reopening this summer, although when exactly that is happening is not known at the time of writing.
Some countries, like Mexico, Costa Rica and Greece require visitors to fill out a COVID information form before traveling. Other countries, such as Japan and Iceland have travel restrictions for visitors who have been to COVID hot spots. Many countries, such as Australia, are closed for international travel at this time. Some potential destinations, like India and Brazil, currently have widespread COVID infections, and while Americans are not barred from traveling here, the US is advising caution, even for fully vaccinated people, due to the severity of the outbreaks.
This map provided by IATA Travel is a great starting place to identify country travel restrictions.
HOW TO TRAVEL SAFELY:
The CDC currently recommends waiting until you are fully vaccinated before traveling, which means that two weeks have passed since your last COVID vaccine dose. If you are not fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends getting a viral test before you travel, wearing a mask, distancing from others, and testing/quarantining when you return home for the utmost safety.
Most hotel chains have updated cleaning protocols for added protection during COVID, however, some of those protocols are relaxing, and many of them are unable to stay on top of the top sources of germs in hotels, such as elevator buttons and stairwell door handles. A study done in the middle of 2020 found that the average hotel elevator button has 1,477 times more germs than a household bathroom door handle! After selecting your floor, you touch the top of your suitcase, your phone, your key card, the remote to your room’s tv…
Even if you are fully vaccinated for COVID, some of these germs can be harmful. E. coli is commonly found on hotel remotes from previous guests who didn’t wash their hands after using the restroom. Gross! There are also other viruses like influenza, which can be hurled across a hotel room with a sneeze by a previous guest.
The Connect-UV Multi-Function Sanitizing Station is the perfect travel accessory to ensure your key card, remote, phone, and car keys are clean of germs commonly found during travel. I set mine up as soon as I check in, and immediately sanitize my items, then sanitize again upon returning to the room. For those surfaces that don’t fit inside the station, antibacterial wipes on commonly touched surfaces remain a good best practice at check in.
PROTECTING YOURSELF FINANCIALLY
Aside from keeping yourself healthy, COVID can also wreak havoc on your wallet. Travel insurance with COVID-19 are required by some nations, and can be a huge help if your trip is canceled due to illness or outbreak, or if you get ill while abroad. Forbes recently released a guide to the best pandemic travel insurance. You may also want to invest in refundable plane tickets/lodging or to book with companies that make changing travel plans easy. Nerd Wallet’s guide for COVID cancellation and change fees can help you decide who to fly with.
It’s been a long year and a half. We all need and deserve a break. However, unanticipated hurdles and illness can spoil any vacation! Make sure your first post-pandemic vacation is a success with a little extra preparation will allow for better relaxation once you get to your destination.