Originally posted March 20, 2020 | Updated April 29, 2022

Constantly fluctuating conditions have made it hard to know how to plan for travel since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. But, as of this update in April 2022, many if not most nations of the world have established protocols that allow vaccinated travelers to move freely. At Journeys International we are certainly not medical or public health experts. We are, however, travel experts, and we are committed to providing information and insight to help you make travel decisions. Here are some FAQs regarding travel and COVID-19 to help you plan your upcoming adventures.

Should I avoid international travel right now because of Covid?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 can feel comfortable traveling both domestically and internationally. There are no destinations that the CDC identifies for vaccinated travelers to avoid for health reasons. The CDC suggests that it is best to delay all travel until completing a full course of vaccination.

Is international travel risky because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?

Not necessarily. Many countries continue to maintain some Covid-prevention protocols. Vaccination has become widely accessible worldwide. Vaccinated individuals are 4 times less likely to contract the virus than those without the vaccine, and 84 times less likely to die from it.

However, many places are reducing or dropping their Covid-mitigation measures, especially in the United States and Europe. The ongoing prevalence of COVID-19 varies from country to country, as does the rate of vaccination. The State Department includes Covid factors in their travel advisories so you may find it helpful to read these status reports. (However, also consider our take on understanding these advisories.) If you are particularly concerned about exposure due to personal risk factors, Journeys adventure specialists can help you assess the specific circumstances in different destinations to select the best destination for you.

Some types of trips particularly lend themselves to social distancing and controlled sanitation. For instance, an African safari allows only a limited number of people to ride together in a vehicle, with windows always open (and often roofs!). Furthermore, we can reserve private lodging and dining services to decrease the risk of exposure, and the safari takes place in wide-open spaces, with other tourists staying at a distance in and around their own private vehicle(s).

Other trips exploring the great outdoors are also good options. By spending time outside in nature, there is enough space to stay distanced from other travelers and the fresh air reduces risk of exposure and illness. Most of our outdoor-oriented trips can be customized and provided completely privately. It’s a safer way to see more of this magnificent earth!

Can I travel anywhere I want at this stage of the Covid pandemic?

Some countries’ borders remain closed to leisure travelers, although restrictions are lifting all the time. Vaccination and testing requirements change frequently. We have published an active border report where we try to keep up with which countries are open for American visitors, along with the testing and documentation requirements. Some of the easiest international destinations to enter right now are Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, and Iceland. Australia and New Zealand have also announced their reopening recently!

Keep in mind that every traveler entering the United States, including travelers returning home from vacations, must present evidence of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 1 day of your return trip to the US. If you do plan to travel abroad, ensure that you have a plan in place to obtain this test – Journeys International will assist with this if you are traveling with us. Throughout the omicron wave, the number of vaccinated travelers who tested positive for the virus was substantial, leading to an increase in the number of travelers who had to quarantine before returning to the USA; however unlikely you think it may be that you will contract Covid while traveling, put a plan in place for where you will quarantine for two weeks or more if your end-of-trip test comes back positive.

Domestic travel does not require testing or quarantine.

How difficult is it to travel with all the Covid restrictions?

Compared to the spring and summer of 2020, it is much easier to travel to destinations that allow entry. So far, Journeys travelers have returned to Costa Rica, Mexico, Tunisia, Italy, Iceland, Belize, South Africa, and others with no significant hiccups. Airlines have worked out their protocols, and airport services have returned to full functionality. Some new protocols may take longer than you may remember compared to pre-pandemic routines. Some airports now require passengers to tag their own baggage, for example, and this requires waiting in additional lines. Also, depending on your destination, there may be additional forms that must be completed. Plan to arrive with extra time to complete all requirements.

Also note that many countries maintain health precautions that are more restrictive than those in many parts of the United States. Border crossings or even movement between regions may require virus testing. Although many American airlines have dropped their masking requirements, some foreign airlines still require medical-grade masks (surgical, N-95, or KN-95) and will not accept fabric masks as face coverings. Throughout your trip, you should always have a mask to put on when requested, and you should expect indoor service to be unavailable in some restaurants and other venues. Some museums and other indoor attractions may remain closed to the public, while others may require you to show proof of vaccination. If there are key sites that could make or break your enjoyment of a trip, check the specific restrictions in place before booking.

What safeguards ensure my health and safety while traveling?

First and foremost, given the availability of the Covid-19 vaccine in the United States and the developed world, it is our point of view that at this time all travelers aged 5 and older should delay travel until they are able to receive a full course of vaccination. Not only does this protect you, but it protects local people in your destination who may still not have equitable access to the vaccine.

Although many countries maintain testing requirements for entry in the interest of protecting travelers and their own populations, others are eliminating these requirements. More places are also eliminating masking requirements, although outside the United States masks are still expected in many public venues.

Your own practices are the most critical in protecting your health. You can participate in your own and others’ protection by getting vaccinated, by wearing a face mask in enclosed places and in proximity to others, by washing your hands and sanitizing them frequently, and by maintaining a safe distance from people outside your travel party. Stay masked while in airports and on airplanes, including while sleeping. Choose water bottles with unexposed mouthpieces and spend as little time as possible indoors in the company of people outside your travel party.

What happens if I can’t make the trip I have planned?

COVID-19 is now treated like any other illness. Travel insurance will generally cover you if you, one of your travel companions, or someone you care for at home becomes infected shortly before your trip. However, fear of becoming ill is generally not a covered reason for cancellation. Early in the pandemic many suppliers in the travel industry were extremely flexible about cancelation or postponement as case rates fluctuated. Now, with more experience living and transacting in the Covid era, many businesses have returned to more specific terms for postponement or cancelation. Because Journeys works with so many different suppliers in so many different destinations, we must consider each situation on a case-by-case basis. Our goal is to reschedule your travel for a future date when you feel comfortable traveling, with as little price increase as possible.

I have heard that travel insurance didn’t cover people who had to cancel trips because of the pandemic. Should I still buy travel insurance?

We do still recommend purchasing travel protection policies. Some destinations currently require particular types of coverage to cover costs incurred in the event of coronavirus-related delays, and most insurance providers have developed add-ons to their standard offerings that will satisfy these specific requirements. Even in the absence of such a requirement, you may choose to add a supplement that would cover the expenses of quarantine in the unlikely event that it becomes necessary. You may also opt for a “Cancel for Any Reason” policy or upgrade that has fewer restrictions on the covered reasons for trip cancelation. These policies tend to be more expensive. Each insurer is prepared to answer specific questions about their offerings.

Generally, a travel insurance policy will cover the immediate treatment of a condition contracted while traveling (including COVID-19), lost baggage replacement, and service provider bankruptcy, among other things. However, note that a cancelation due to fear of conditions, new travel advisories, or even sites becoming inaccessible because of closure or quarantine will usually not be covered without the upgrades mentioned above. Each policy is different, so it is important to read the language of a policy before purchasing to know what types of emergencies it covers. Make sure to thoroughly discuss your travel insurance plan with the plan provider if you have questions.

Note that some insurers also now require you to purchase your policy at least 14 or 21 days in advance of departure, so don’t wait until the last minute to get your insurance! (This comes in addition to requirements of purchasing policies within 14 or 21 days of signing up for your trip in order to have protection for pre-existing conditions.)

Most US health insurance providers do not extend coverage outside of the United States. It is important to check with your individual health insurance provider as you navigate what travel insurance policy will work best for you.

What can I do if I’m still not ready to travel?

Dream and plan! You might not be ready to hit the road, but others are. Accommodations in some destinations are already filling up for 2023(!), and we suggest you save your spot now.

We also want to encourage everyone to maintain a mindset of adventure and exploration, even in your home environs. Reflecting on previous travel experiences can help you embrace the values of connecting with people who see the world differently, spending time in nature, and stepping outside your comfort zone. At Journeys, we know that adventure is not solely about the places you go, but also the wonder and discovery you encounter wherever you happen to be.

More questions?

Check out these resources:

You can also contact us about questions specific to Journeys International at any time.