With vaccinations on the rise and mortality rates related to Covid-19 going down in Europe and other parts of the world, many people are making plans to travel this summer and beyond. But experts say the quickly circulating Delta variant is a new concern for travelers, particularly those who are unvaccinated. The European Union said on June 18 that the United States would be added to its “safe list” of countries, a decision that should allow even unvaccinated visitors from the U.S. (who can provide proof of a negative coronavirus test) to enter its 27 member states for nonessential travel. These countries, however, can impose their own restrictions and requirements for entry.
So if you’re wondering how the variant will affect your travel plans, what do you need to know before booking a flight?
So far, the variant, first identified in India – has spread to more than 80 countries as of June 16 – so if you’re out and about this summer, chances that you’re going to encounter the Delta variant, either in the U.S. or in Europe. But if you are fully vaccinated, particularly with a two-dose vaccine, there is really need to be worried. Also the C.D.C. has a global variant map – that shows the countries where different variants have been identified. It lists the risk level by country – but you may ALSO want to look online on the – national health department website – for the country you are planning to visit – to get more specific data.
Are there any precautions should travelers take?
Rules around testing and requirements to enter another country are evolving – and can CHANGE quickly from one day to the next. Make sure to check the requirements for your destination country before booking your flight – but also in the days before you travel – make sure you are following the most updated rules. In terms of insurance, I have mentioned before that there are air medical transport programs out there like MEDJET that, if you are hospitalized while traveling, will arrange medical transportation to your hospital at home. Most travel insurance only evacuates to a nearby hospital, while they get you moved home. MEDJET added Covid-19 transport benefits last year, for domestic travel and international destinations as they opened up.
With travel returning, are there any deals that people should be looking out for?
There are but keep in mind it’s going to be harder to find good prices as more people get vaccinated. The prices for hotels, rental cars and flights are going up. Look early for flights and set up email or text alerts so you can see when prices change, and don’t forget to bundle. When you make your flight arrangements, you’ll usually get a notification that says – would you like to add a hotel or would you like to add car rental, click those buttons and see what kind of bundled deals you can get. Also avoid the weeks around the July Fourth holiday and – if possible – start your trip planning by first checking on which destinations are cheap, before you decide where to go.
Should travelers avoid flying this summer? Are we going to see another summer of the ‘road trip’ being the most popular mode of transport?
I myself have started taking some great road trips in the northeast while the weather is good! A few of my recent favorite stay-cations included Gloucester beach in Massachusetts, where I stayed at the gorgeous Beauport Hotel on the water, which boasts a breathtaking rooftop pool and fabulous restaurant. I also visited the charming town of Northport in Long Island, where I stayed at the quaint Harbor Rose B&B overlooking the harbor. If you do want to fly this summer, there’s couple things to keep in mind. Look at alternative airports in the same areas to save money. Don’t forget to use miles which may have built up during the pandemic, and utilize those credit reward cards, which may offer perks.