Safe Return to Travel Amid the Delta Variant

by Gwen Newell

Carolinians have returned to travel in droves this summer and if you’re one of the many Americans who still has a vacation (or two) planned before summer’s end, the resurgence of COVID-19 cases attributed to the Delta variant has probably raised some new concerns and considerations for you. If you are traveling soon it’s important to remain informed and be flexible as policies and guidelines continue to evolve.

While some travelers are wondering if they should take those last summer trips, or continue with their future travel plans, it’s important to remain informed and be flexible as policies and guidelines continue to evolve.

Is it Safe to Travel in Light of the COVID-19 Delta Variant?

AAA Travel experts are helping people be informed, prepared and protected for travel.  It’s important to take into consideration the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.

The CDC advises:

  • Fully vaccinated people can travel domestically with little risk.
  • For unvaccinated people, they advise delaying travel. Additionally, some destinations and travel providers may require proof of vaccination before traveling or for access to certain venues and experiences.

Travel insurance options vary greatly, but could potentially cover expenses related to the need to cancel or postpone your trip, flight delays or cancelations, and any extra hotel or transportation expenses incurred. While travel insurance policies have historically not covered epidemics or pandemics, some providers have started to introduce plans that cover some losses due to COVID-19 or other epidemic diseases, due to shifting consumer expectations. Travelers can speak with a knowledgeable AAA Travel Agent for details.

Mask Guidance for Travelers

 The CDC recently updated its guidance on mask-wearing, advising people in areas with high COVID-19 transmission to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. You will be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Additionally, some states and cities have updated their mask and other travel requirements.

Masks should be at the top of your packing list, since guidelines and requirements will vary from place to place. Travelers should ensure they bring the right type of face covering, as some international destinations may require medical masks. It is also a good practice to bring disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and a thermometer to help protect and monitor your health. For road trips, consider packing water and extra snacks to reduce the need to stop along your trip

International Travel

 With the success of the vaccine rollout and more countries opening to American travelers, AAA Travel Agents have noted a significant increase in inquiries and bookings for international travel, especially for 2022 – with Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and European river cruises topping the list of international travel destinations.

As borders begin to reopen and countries adjust their travel restrictions, the CDC notes that international travel poses additional risks. If you are fully vaccinated, the CDC provides recommendations for traveling safely, including getting tested 3-5 days after traveling internationally. You do not need to be tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it, and you do not need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.

All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States.

The U.S. State Department is also warning Americans of delays in processing passport applications. It may take up to 18 weeks to get your new passport, and 12 weeks for “expedited” service. As a result, it’s recommended that you submit your passport application at least six months before planned travel.

 

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