In some ways, travel is starting to move again. In other ways, it is still very much at a standstill. We are starting to see an increase in domestic flights and the beginning of the return of international flights, but there is still a very long way to go.
Here in Canada, the avoid non-essential travel advisory from the Canadian Government is still in effect. While that doesn't prohibit you from travelling, it is a major factor to consider when you are thinking about a trip.
Yes, you can travel
If you want to travel and are flexible with your destination, there are places you can travel to be it on short notice, later this fall or early next year. A few of our favourites are Iceland, Costa Rica and Greece, but there are many options and can even be as far away as Thailand. Every country has its own rules and regulations for entry and many of them are still changing on a weekly basis. It is time-consuming and often frustrating to find all of the information you need in order to know which destinations will work for your residency and specific vaccination status. If you're committed to getting an international vacation in before the end of 2021 or starting the new year off with an epic adventure, it CAN be done!
If you are thinking about an international trip in the near future, here are four things you should consider:
1. Risk vs Reward
Travel has always had risk associated with it most people just choose not to think about it. From travelling to yellow fever or malaria regions, getting traveller's diarrhea, civil unrest, pickpocketing, terrorist attacks or volcanoes, there are many risks to travel. Now, before everyone stops reading and runs away ... the rewards of travel are pretty amazing, too. You get to escape the mundane, relax, explore somewhere new, connect with locals, see awe-inspiring scenery, marvel at the world wonders, go back in history at ancient sites or conquer a mountain. All of this while opening your mind and seeing the world from different perspectives.
We all have to balance the risks vs the rewards to decide when is the right time to travel. Right now though, the risks related to Covid seem higher than they've ever been. It’s also been part of our daily conversations for over a year. It's much harder to ignore something we talk about daily.
One of the ways to offset some of the risks involved with travel is by purchasing travel insurance. More than ever, it is important that you fully understand your insurance coverage and exclusions. Insurance does not cover everything. It never has. It covers you for the unknown and unexpected. It is also important to understand how government travel advisories affect your insurance and your protection when you are abroad.
Please, don't travel without insurance. While it may not cover you for everything, it still covers you for so many things that you think will never happen to you.
2. Fully vaccinated tours & cruises
Many of the tour companies and small ship cruises we work with are implementing requirements for all passengers to be fully vaccinated before joining the tour or cruise. If travelling with other vaccinated passengers is important to you, don't assume all companies are requiring vaccinations. This is an option that some companies are implementing but it is not standard yet and may never be.
3. Country entry requirements
Some countries are allowing anyone with a negative PCR test to enter, regardless of vaccination status. Other countries require all passengers to be fully vaccinated from a list of approved vaccines. Many countries are not allowing leisure travellers at all, yet. There is no baseline or norm that countries are following, each one has different rules and requirements for entry.
Before you book, it is important to check the current rules, but also to be aware that rules are still in flux and they could change again in a week, or six months from now.
4. Vaccination Woes
It seems that Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are widely accepted as approved vaccines. If you have a double dose of one of these, you are one step ahead. Some countries don't recognize any type of AstraZeneca as an approved vaccine. Others specify which AstraZeneca manufacturers are approved.
When it comes to having mixed vaccines, here in Canada you are considered fully vaccinated, but this is not the case in many countries. Some countries accept a mix of Pfizer and Moderna but do not accept a mix of AstraZeneca and either Pfizer or Moderna.
Many countries have not created written policies on whether or not mixed vaccines are accepted. In times like these, you can't take a lack of information as a green light. If you arrive at a destination and aren't fully vaccinated to their specifications, there are consequences. You could be sent home at your own expense or required to take various Covid tests and quarantine for 10 - 14 days, also at your own expense. Having the correct and most up-to-date information is paramount.
Travel is complicated, but not impossible and the rewards are all the sweeter!
As you can see, travel is currently much more complicated than it was in past years, but we also all need vacations more than we ever have before. Leave us a comment below to let us know what you learned from this article. Or let us know if you have any questions.
As professional travel advisors, we can help navigate all of the issues mentioned above and already have our finger on the pulse of what is coming down the line. We can also save you hours in research time since we have connections and industry tools that give us access to up-to-date information much faster than you can sort through old vs new information on Google.
It is possible to travel now and many people are doing so. We want nothing more than for all of you (and ourselves) to get back out there exploring again, but we also feel it is important to make sure our clients are prepared, rather than surprised!
If you are interested in starting the planning process, please contact us early and bring your patience to the planning process. Everything is slower than it used to be due to industry-wide staff shortages, complex new rules and the loss of many companies who had to close up shop.