If you’re watching your inbox or any of the flight search engines lately, you know that Europe is on sale for American travelers. We’re talking really cheap flights that would cause any travel-lover to whip out their miles card fast.
Wait just a minute though! International travel is more of a gamble than you might realize.
The risk isn’t in getting there–it’s whether you can get home. Here’s what you need to know to sort out whether your personal risk tolerance is up to the challenge of international travel right now.
Unvaccinated? Forget about going
Earlier in the summer, you may have been able to squeak through with a negative test or proof of recovery, but not anymore. Now, you have to show a negative test and proof of vaccination or recovery.
Everywhere around the globe, borders are slamming shut for the unvaccinated. Unvaccinated US travelers may be allowed to enter for essential reasons, but the list of reasons is quite narrow. Plus, you’ll have to convince the person at the point of entry that your reason for entering their country unvaxxed is valid.
Pre-flight testing works
A study by the Mayo Clinic of nearly 10,000 trans-atlantic passengers during the third COVID-19 surge shows that the risk of contracting the virus on an airplane is extremely unlikely when:
- All passengers tested negative for the virus prior to departure
- Everyone is masked
- The airplane has hospital-grade air filtration
The data can be used as a blueprint for requiring vaccinations and testing instead of using quarantines to re-open borders for international travel.
What this data cannot show is the level of risk for travelers being exposed to or catching the virus while they are eating in restaurants, touring museums, and wandering the streets of an international city. This brings us to the next point.
What if you can’t get home?
While the question of ‘where can I go?’ is usually top of mind, you have to ask yourself this question instead: ‘what if I can’t get home?’.
Let’s assume you’re fully vaccinated, have your pre- and return flight testing figured out, and you want to go. The chances of getting a surprise positive test while abroad, even while you’re feeling just fine, is not zero. The US requires possession of a negative test (or declaration of recovery) no more than 3 days prior to your flight home.
If you test positive, you won’t be able to board that plane and come home. You’ll have to wait between 10 and 14 days and get a fresh negative test to be able to return.
Will you have enough money and flexibility in your work or school schedule to stay an extra couple of weeks? Will you even be able to get a place to stay while you wait?
What if you already have a trip booked?
If you already have a trip booked, decide if you want to keep it on the calendar or move it to a later date.
If you want to cancel or change your trip, here’s what you need to know:
- Change fees are basically gone as long as you purchased your flight through the airline and the ticket is in main economy (not basic) or higher.
- There is some temporary flexibility for basic economy tickets on United and Delta currently, but not all airlines offer this.
- Free change fees does not equal refunds even if your reason for canceling is justified, like an increase in infections at your destination.
- Trip insurance will rarely cover a cancellation unless you bought Cancel for Any Reason coverage.
The bottom line: if you’re concerned about the virus derailing or canceling your trip, you’ll want travel insurance that covers all possibilities. Otherwise, you’re better off traveling domestically for now.
Other interesting news
Busiest holiday travel day predictions are out–and it looks a little different this year.
New travel subscription–in the world of travel subscriptions, Travel + Leisure has one that’s different.
Cool new tech: this handy little docking station lets you charge all the devices anywhere you go in the world.
Fools’ rules–coming from the Motley Fool are some new rules for making travel less expensive.
Getting in a little work time while traveling? Here’s the latest VPN for digitally scary places.
Want to save on that holiday trip? There’s a method to finding the best holiday airfare for up to 40% off!