Get informed before booking your next international trip
Do you wish to hop on a plane and get your passport stamped? That makes two of us. Most states are in some stage of reopening. Headlines of European countries reopening their borders flood our newsfeeds. And now flight searches are yielding more results for international travel since the pandemic peaked in the U.S. late-March. But the question still stands, when will international travel resume?
That’s a tough question to answer at the moment. It requires you to look at the reopening status of the destination in mind. As well as, what's the guidance in place by the Department of State for American travelers to said destination.
Countries reopening their borders
Countries around the world are easing from lockdown and welcoming tourists at their own rhythm. Coronavirus hotspots like Spain might take their time to reopen for tourists. Some nations are establishing travel bubbles or corona corridors to bring back tourism at a smaller scale. Travel bubbles appear when a small group of countries opens up their borders to each other so people can travel freely between the nations. In the Baltic region, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania opened up their borders to each other on May 15. And if virus levels remain low, they might expand their bubble to other nearby nations. Then there are countries with fewer travel restrictions, like Portugal. Forbes notes that the sunny nation is welcoming tourists in early June with health checks at the airport and no 14-day quarantine requirement. But it’s important to note that all of the measures mentioned above are subject to change depending on the evolution of coronavirus cases in each nation.
International travel for Americans post COVID-19
On March 31, the Department of State issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory. The advisory, which is still in place, asks U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. On top of that, the CDC has prohibited entry to the U.S. for travelers from certain regions. Including China, Iran, the European Schengen area, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, and now Brazil. That means that Americans can be subject to quarantine when returning from over a third of the top 40 international destinations.
Selecting where to travel internationally post-coronavirus will require you to do some homework. IATA, the International Air Travel Association, created an industry tool that will help you kick start your homework. Designed to help airlines securely manage the passenger verification process, their Interactive Coronavirus Travel Regulations Map powered by Timatic covers almost every country in the world. There you can find out which countries have opened up their borders and if American visitors are now welcomed. Or if travel quarantine is required upon arriving or departing the destination – maybe it's both. IATA notes that “the information is correct to the best of IATA's knowledge at the time of publication and is being reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis by IATA staff.”
Whenever you decide to start planning your international trip, keep these things in mind:
Be flexible and prepare to change your plans. The implementation of additional travel restrictions may happen with little notice. Brazil is a recent example of this.
You may find lack of support abroad for U.S. citizens as some U.S. ambassadors and consulates may not be at their posts. The Department of State is keeping international travelers up to date via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). For more info, check websites and social media accounts of your destination for the latest information.
Long term trip planning might seem farfetched. Talks of a second wave of coronavirus might impact plans. Luckily the travel industry is coming to terms with this reality. Some hotels and hostels (like Selina) now offer the opportunity to cancel up to 24-hours before the reservation.