After more than a year of living in pandemic lockdown, I know I’m not the only one itching with the travel bug. However, it’s not a jet-setting free-for-all just yet. It’s going to be a while before everything goes back to “normal” and even if you’re vaccinated, you might still be able to spread COVID-19. It leaves us questioning about what to expect when traveling in 2021.
What does that mean for the travel fund gathering dust in my bank account? I’m not going to plan a country-hopping, round-the-globe adventure just yet. However, I am going to scratch my travel itch with safe travel after I’m fully vaccinated.
Flying After COVID: Is It Safe?
Sitting in cramped quarters on an airplane isn’t where you want to be during a pandemic. But what about after you’re vaccinated? Experts predict that flying should be safe by summer when most people are vaccinated — although it’s still recommended to wear masks, social distance, and practice hand hygiene in public. If you want to be extra cautious, book direct flights at off-peak times and skip the meal service.
Can’t wait until summer? Driving is a low-risk option if you pack your own food and avoid areas with high infection rates. Plus, is there a better way to see the country than a road trip? We don’t think so. However, there’s still a risk if you’re packing into a car with non-vaccinated people, so restrict road trips to fully-vaccinated friends for now.
The Best Travel Destinations After the Pandemic
2021 is the year to go off the beaten path. Not only are lesser-known airports less crowded than LAX, staying away from the most popular tourist destinations also keeps the low-key social anxiety we’ve all developed during COVID-19 at bay. Goodbye, Big Apple! Hello, rugged coastal Maine; lush Chiapas, Mexico; and the pristine beaches of southern Vietnam.
There’s just one problem with taking the path less traveled: It tends to be less convenient, too. If navigating flight connections and international bookings has your head spinning, know that you can hire freelance traveling services for far less than what you’d pay a travel agent. Look for a freelancer who specializes in your destination and check reviews to see what past clients have to say.
What About Resort Bubbles?
If you’ve been researching travel options, you’ve probably come across the term “resort bubble.” But what the heck is it, and should you stay at one? These have popped up in island resort communities like Hawai’i and the Bahamas that are eager to revitalize the tourism economy but don’t want to put travelers or residents at risk. Resort bubbles are designed to entertain guests on-site for three days. After that — and a negative COVID-19 test — they’re allowed to venture out of the resort’s bounds. It sounds limiting at first, but resort bubbles have proven to be a popular option among cautious travelers.
Air Travel Restrictions: What to Expect
If you haven’t set foot on an airplane since before the COVID-19 pandemic, expect changes. Some of these will be familiar, like masks, social distancing, and enhanced health and safety measures. However, other air travel changes could derail your trip if you’re not prepared.
The U.S. requires all travelers entering the U.S to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure. This applies, regardless of vaccination status. Many other countries also require a negative COVID-19 test, and some continue to mandate quarantine for travelers. However, a few countries allow fully-vaccinated travelers to bypass testing and quarantine requirements. These include destinations like Cyprus, Estonia, and Seychelles.
Safe Tips for Traveling in 2021
Not to sound like a broken record, but getting vaccinated doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. Not everyone is vaccinated yet, and even vaccinated people might transmit the virus. Plus, there are new variants circulating that we don’t know much about. All of that is to say: If you’re traveling in 2021, it’s still important to be cautious. That includes:
- Quarantine before traveling, and follow quarantine and testing requirements as required by local governments.
- Avoiding travel to areas with high community transmission rates. You can view current Travel Advisories at Travel.State.Gov.
- Choose travel destinations with a high percentage of the population vaccinated.
- Wear a mask and social distance around anyone who is unvaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown.
- Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
- Book a freestanding vacation home or villa instead of a hotel. Or try something unique like a glamping yurt or vintage trailer hotel.
- Choose safe transportation. Renting a car is safer than public transit in a pandemic.
Traveling in 2021 might not feel “normal” just yet, but that’s no reason to stay in! After spending 2020 cooped up, we’re all ready to get out and stretch our legs on a new adventure. Whether you road trip with friends or fly across the globe, take this opportunity to tick a few boxes off of your travel bucket list — safely, of course!