Just when we thought summer vacations wouldn’t be salvageable, things have started looking up. A few travel corridors have paved the way for mass border reopenings. It seems that the European Union will once again become a united travel destination starting July 1 after most member countries successfully controlled the pandemic. It’s unclear what countries outside of the continent will be on the approved travel lists, but a lot of whispers suggest countries with fewer cases than the European average will be given the green light. As international travel post-Covid becomes more of a real possibility, what are some things you should consider?
Just because travel is allowed one way doesn’t mean it will be reciprocated
One of the main sources of confusion as individual countries relax their border restrictions is the difference between your own country’s restrictions and the destination country’s restrictions. For example, France might put Israel on the list of countries that their citizens are safe to travel to, while Israel might have its own set of guidelines banning citizens from France. So when you’re considering international travel, you have to be sure to look up what your country allows and what your destination country allows.
Mind your documentation
If you reside in one country but you’re a citizen of another, you need to take a good look at the entry requirements wherever you plan to go. That’s because while some countries are accepting citizens and foreign residents, other countries are banning passports altogether. For instance, with a US passport, you can travel in (most of) Europe as long as you have proof of temporary or permanent residency from an approved country. On the other hand, Japan has banned US passport holders altogether. So make sure you’ve very clear on where you’ll be allowed to enter when you’re crossing borders.
Potential testing requirements
Some of the more successful countries at keeping outbreaks at bay are implementing mandatory testing for anyone entering the country. This could manifest in two ways in practice, either you have to enter the country with a valid (and recent) negative Covid test or you have to test at the airport when you arrive. If the dreaded swab up your nose isn’t enough to make you reconsider going to a country that requires testing, you may also have to pay for the test out of pocket.
What happens if you get Covid abroad?
If you’re thinking about travel, being in the relative midst of a pandemic means that you have a potential cost to consider that you’ve probably never given much thought to. If you get sick and have to be hospitalized, will you pay for that out of pocket? Will the country cover the costs? Will your travel insurance? (Spoiler alert: probably not.) Some countries like Cyprus and Iceland are wooing tourists by assuring them that if you get sick in their country, your bill for medical care and quarantine will be covered. Maybe these countries should be at the top of your list.
How early should you book your trip?
A pandemic is probably not a great time to be a careful planner. Most countries that are opening borders at this stage got here by suddenly and dramatically enacting Covid measures like border closures. Which means if an outbreak started from one weekend to the next, border closures could happen again. It’s probably not a great idea to have something booked many weeks or months in advance since the situation is fluid. This is probably a better time to wing it and book a flight that leaves tomorrow to a country you know to be safe right now.
Just because flights are available doesn’t mean travel is safe or allowed
Getting travel advice from an airline is like getting infection prevention tips from the virus. Airlines are bastards and many of them are purposefully selling flights they have no intention of flying so they can take your money and give you a voucher. Don’t assume that just because a flight is for sale that you can travel somewhere without restrictions. In some cases, travel is possible only for foreign workers or other essential travel. Unfortunately, wanting to hang out in the Mediterranean does not constitute a valid travel work permit.
Should you travel internationally at all?
I don’t think it’s ever been truer that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Borders opening doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to travel at the moment. There are two very valid sides to the argument. On the one hand, if people from other countries can come to your cafes and ride your public transportation and get you sick, then why wouldn’t you take the risk and spend a couple of days on a beach in Barcelona? At the same time, flying is inherently riskier than sharing a few minutes on a crowded tram. If the fear of getting sick abroad might ruin your whole vacation anyway, then maybe you’re not ready for international travel, and that’s okay.
If you decide to book international travel post-Covid, just make sure you’ve done all the leg work so your vacation doesn’t turn into a coronavirus disaster.