We’re all going stir crazy. Actually, let me correct that statement because it makes it sound like we aren’t there yet…but we are. As vaccinations become more widespread and some parts of the world slowly begin to emerge from the pandemic, those of us who enjoy traveling are becoming desperate to get on planes and take those trips that were postponed or canceled. However, overseas travel remains a tricky proposition for many of us depending on countries of origin and destination.
Years ago, I promised my spouse a trip to Fiji “someday.” In anticipation of our 10 year wedding anniversary, we finally had enough credit card points (I’m a poor blogger, remember) to make the trip. We planned it for Summer of 2020. Oops.
Having the trip of a lifetime canceled was a bummer, but thankfully we were able to recoup the points that we used for the resort and plane to be used when the world was “normal” again. So this Spring, we made the decision to go to Hawaii. At that point, we were both vaccinated but knew it might still be a gamble with the ever-changing restrictions for traveling to Hawaii. Thankfully, we completed the online flight booking and all of the appropriate COVID checklists without any issues and had a great trip. Man was it nice to get out of the house and actually pretend things were normal again!
On our trip to Hawaii during the Spring of 2021, we were surprised by the number of people adhering to the mask guidelines. Prior to the pandemic, we lived in a state that has been notorious in the news for its citizens not wearing masks even at the peak of the virus. However, while we were in Maui, I would estimate that > 90% of the individuals that we saw on the trip were wearing their masks. One interesting aspect of the trip was the shocking lack of diversity among the tourists. Typically on a trip to Hawaii, you’ll see a wide range of ethnicities, given the fact that Hawaii is a tourist attraction from across the globe. On our trip, the vast majority of non-native Hawaiians that we saw were quite obviously American. With the US restricting travel *from* other countries, this wasn’t a surprise but was interesting nonetheless.
We’re already trying to plan for the next trip. We considered Europe but, due to the aforementioned issues in the UK, that’s out of the question until the travel alert for the US is set to a lower level. My wife has always wanted to go to Greece so unfortunately that’s out of the question for now. Australia and New Zealand have been on my bucket list, but we’ve run into some of the same restrictions there for the time being. We’d love to go to Seychelles but the aforementioned points have been wiped out for now. That said, we’re much more comfortable with the process and the vaccine has made us more comfortable traveling. Hotel booking in Seychelles is relatively painless but we’re in the process now of deciding the right timing based on COVID restrictions in various countries.
Work travel has also been hindered by all of this. I was supposed to take a trip to London this month but the UK is currently restricting travel from the US (currently listed as an “amber” country) unless you can quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. For many of us, myself included, this restriction just isn’t realistic for what was intended to be a brief business trip. This has been pretty disappointing as I have not been to the UK before and was looking forward to getting to go and having the expenses covered by work. I faced similar restrictions (UK) when I needed to go to Ireland a few months ago as they were on complete and total lock-down at that time.
Ultimately, all of us who love traveling are running up against country-by-country restrictions when trying to go overseas. Above all else, the goal is to avoid what we ran into with our planned Fiji trip where we booked the flight and hotel but were unable to go because of these restrictions. From a global perspective, it has been interesting to see the number of countries actually restricting travel from the US. It gives an interesting viewpoint on how the rest of the world views our country’s response to the pandemic which, in a nutshell, isn’t viewed favorably in case you weren’t sure.
In addition to the UK, there are many other countries currently restricting travel from the United States. In fact, most other countries have some form of travel restriction for US visitors including our friendly neighbors to the north in Canada.
At the end of the day, it’s more important than ever to do the research beforehand to make sure you completely understand the travel restrictions for where you’re traveling. A great example was that trip to Hawaii. If we hadn’t completed all of the pre-travel requirements, we would have arrived in state and been hit with a mandatory quarantine, despite being vaccinated and COVID negative. There are more hoops than ever to jump through as travelers right now, but with proper preparation, the world has opened up to get out of the quarantine funk safely and satisfy the travel bug.
As you prepare for your next trip, pay attention to the CDC and other websites for travel advisories. Find out if there are any local COVID testing partners, such as the ones we were required to use when pre-testing for Hawaii. If you are vaccinated, make sure that you keep digital and laminated copies of your vaccine card just in case requirements change while you are en-route or at your destination. If you are planning to hop from one country to the other, make sure you’re aware of restrictions from country to country as well. Even if you are taking an international flight that has a layover in a different country than your country of origin, sometimes you can get stuck with a mandatory quarantine based on the “highest alert level” of any country that your plane stopped. These are just some of the things that you can to do help avoid unnecessary travel headaches as we all navigate today’s world.
Most importantly, stay save and have fun!