If the CDC’s travel requirements are throwing you for a loop, read on to find out how to plan ahead and take that much-needed vacation without worry.
The key to passing any test is being prepared. And in the case of travel, that means brushing up on the negative COVID-19 test requirement put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for anyone flying into the U.S. from abroad.
Pouring over FAQs can be time-consuming and confusing, and scrolling Facebook for accurate answers frustrating. But with this “study guide” to break it all down, you can rest at ease knowing that when you arrive on a beautiful beach somewhere tropical, you won’t worry for a second about getting back home.
Like any guide worth its salt, we’ve broken ours up into sections, detailing what to do before you leave; once you’ve arrived; and after you’re home for a safe, peaceful vacation.
1. Check Your Documents … Then Check Them Again
A 101 rule for any vacation, once you receive your eDocs, check them over carefully. Be sure names are spelled correctly and that the dates, hotel, transfers, and add-ons are what you booked.
If you purchased travel protection, read the full terms and conditions so you know exactly what is and isn’t covered. You’ll also want to read provided details on your destination or travel in general, like the latest CDC requirements.
Pro-tip: If anything is incorrect or raises a red flag, reach out to your travel agent immediately—not the day you leave.
2. Have All Results In Hand
While most destinations currently require a negative COVID-19 test, prerequisites for arrival will depend on where you’re headed. Bear in mind that even if a test isn’t required, the CDC still recommends getting tested 1 – 3 days before traveling. So don’t wait to schedule that appointment!
If your trip is for less than 3 days, you’ll have an added benefit: taking a viral test before you leave fulfills the new CDC testing requirement as long as you return home before the 72-hour window has passed.
But what if you’ve already had COVID-19? If you were diagnosed within the last three months, are symptom-free, and have finished quarantining, you’ll need:
Pro-tip: Make your results accessible! If you have a printout, keep several copies, including in your carry-on and with your passport. If you have a digital version, download it to your phone so that you can pull it up even if there’s no WiFi.
3. Know the Rules
It’s just as important to be aware of the rules you’ll be coming back to as the ones you’re going into. In order to avoid unexpected snags, familiarize yourself with your state’s health and safety guidelines, which you can find at usa.gov/state-health.
Remember, with so many factors in the mix these days, regulations can change quickly; check your state site regularly to stay in the know.
Pro-tip: Nervous about guideline changes—or anything else—affecting your trip? Opt for ALG Vacations’ Travel Protection Plus coverage when booking. Cancel for any reason, change without brand fees, and get up to $3,000 per person in trip delay coverage in case you need to quarantine at your hotel.
4. Don’t Forget the Safety Supplies
Masks and hand sanitizer will be your constant companions on your getaway. Most hotels will have an abundance of the latter, but when it comes to the former, pack plenty of extra.
Masks shouldn’t be worn for more than a day at most, and doing laundry or making a mad dash to the hotel store isn’t how you want to be spending your precious vacation. By having a full stock, you can change masks as frequently as needed.
Pro-tip: If you pack reusable masks, bring a separate bag where you can store them after wearing. This will prevent germs from getting on other items in your suitcase.
5. Talk to Your Advisor
There’s a reason (or a hundred) you booked with a travel advisor. Your agent is connected to all the latest information: resort updates, destination news, federal guidelines. If at any time you’re unsure about something related to your trip, don’t hesitate and don’t wait; reach out!
Pro-tip: One week before you leave for your getaway, reach out to your advisor with any final questions or concerns.
With that, you’re now vacation-ready, and this section of your travel study guide is complete. So go ahead and focus on what awaits: relaxing on a picture-perfect beach, care-free.
As COVID-19 vaccine rollouts continue to progress in the U.S. and abroad, a handful of European countries, including Iceland and Croatia, have started opening up to vaccinated travelers. Will others follow suit?
European countries vaccinated travelers can visit
Not all of Europe is closed off to travelers from the United States and elsewhere. Some countries have recently announced policies that allow travelers who have received their COVID-19 vaccine to enter.
As of April 1, anyone can travel to Croatia if they present a COVID-19 vaccination certificate (the final dose must be administered at least 14 days before arrival); can present a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken no more than 48 hours prior to arrival in Croatia (if it’s a rapid test, a second test must be taken 10 days after the initial test if your stay in Croatia is longer than 10 days); or were diagnosed with and recovered from COVID-19 no more than 180 days prior to arrival. Children under seven years of age are exempt.
The U.S. Embassy in Croatia reminds travelers that tourists who meet the above requirements will only be permitted to enter Croatia if they provide evidence that they have paid for their Croatia accommodations in advance and in full prior to arrival at the border.
Effective February 2, the northern European country of Estonia has declared that those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 can enter the country without having to submit to an otherwise mandatory 10-day quarantine and COVID-19 testing requirements. The Estonian government has said that vaccinated travelers must still adhere to any public health measures that are in place in Estonia.
As of February 1, 2021, any fully vaccinated traveler from any country is allowed to enter Georgia as long as they present documentation confirming their COVID-19 vaccination status. (If the vaccine required two doses, proof of both doses must be provided.)
Unvaccinated travelers arriving from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, the European Union, Israel, Kazakhstan, Norway, Northern Ireland, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, or the United States must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result conducted within 72 hours prior to travel at the Georgian border. On their third day in Georgia, travelers must submit to a second PCR test.
On March 9, 2021, Greece tourism minister Harry Theocharis said that those who are vaccinated against COVID-19, have antibodies, or test negative for COVID will be able to travel to Greece this summer, Reuters reported. “Greece is ready with a complete protocol for summer 2021,” Theocharis said at the global tourism trade fair ITB Berlin. He added that Greece wants to be ready to start its summer travel season by May 14.
Currently, only residents of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Lichtenstein, and Iceland can enter Greece, as well as those traveling from Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. Those coming from other countries can only enter Greece for essential travel purposes.
All arrivals into Greece must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from within 72 hours before their entry to Greece.
Travelers entering Greece must complete a passenger locator form online, which includes the address of their stay while in Greece. Upon completion of the form, they will be provided with a unique Quick Response (QR) code via email on the day of their scheduled arrival in Greece, according to the Greek government.
Effective March 18, 2021, any travelers—including those from the United States—who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can enter Iceland and will not be subject to COVID-19 testing or quarantine measures. Previously Iceland’s policy stated that proof of vaccines simply allowed those who were already authorized to travel to Iceland (namely Icelandic and EU citizens and residents) to skip the country’s quarantine and testing requirements.
Travelers must provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated (so two doses if two doses are required) with a vaccine that has been certified for use by the European Medicines Agency, which includes the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
“Our experience and data so far indicate very strongly that there is very little risk of infection stemming from individuals who have acquired immunity against the disease, either by vaccination or by prior infection,” stated Iceland’s chief epidemiologist Thórólfur Gudnason. Iceland also allows travelers who have been previously infected with COVID-19 to enter the country without quarantine and testing.
Most of the rest of Europe has a ban on non-essential travel for US citizens. As more people are vaccinated, more will open up.
Among the many things this pandemic has taught us travelers is that patience is a virtue. As we wait to see how European governments continue to respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we will need to hang onto a bit more patience.
So many of us cannot wait to get back to Europe. And, we most certainly will. It has always just been a matter of when .
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