Traveling to and from the USA Post-Pandemic

Family in an airport with suitcases wearing face masks

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on people’s lives all over the world. In the US, most states spent well over a year in lockdown. Though the country is opening back up, case numbers have also picked up. For many families, the reopening of the country means a chance to do things you couldn’t for the past year and a half.

For example, plenty of people are planning international vacations to Europe and Southeast Asia. If you are getting ready to go on vacation, here’s what you need to know about how international travel has changed.

This post is part of our family travel advice series

Planning Your Family Trip

Many people want to celebrate the end of lockdown with a vacation. But COVID-19 has also caused some of the most serious economic issues of our time. If you want to take a vacation but don’t have a lot of money reserved, you might pay for your family trip using a private lender.

As you plan your trip, you’ll need to take travel restrictions into account. Some countries have restricted traffic between their borders. The exact restrictions vary depending on the country.

Some might ask you to quarantine before you go into the general public, while others might only allow US traffic for business and government purposes.

Whether you’re aiming to go to Europe or Southeast Asia, you can expect the countries you visit to have COVID-19 measures in place. There may also be restrictions on the tourist activities you can participate in. For example, certain sites may be shut down, daily numbers capped or you might not be able to go on certain crowded tours.

A closed due to COVID 19 sign on a playground

Always look at the fine print before finalising a booking. Where possible, book travel using platforms that allow last-minute cancellation or at least partial refunds if your plans need to change.

If you are looking at bargain flight deals, do be aware these are unlikely to be flexible tickets. If circumstances change before you can take those cheap flights, there may not be an opportunity to get your money back. Fully flexible is always going to be more expensive but will give you more options to move or cancel your trip if need be.

Guidance on International Travel

For those in the US, the CDC has published a list of guidance regarding international travel. These are the things you need to know before you plan to visit another country.

No matter which country you’re visiting, the CDC states that you shouldn’t travel until you’re fully vaccinated. There is additional guidance for people who absolutely must travel without being fully vaccinated, but you should not go on vacation until you have gotten your vaccine.

The CDC states that if you’re fully vaccinated, you are much less likely to contract and transmit the COVID-19 virus. But depending on where you travel, you might be exposed to variants of the disease that could be more transmissible to fully vaccinated people.

You might also have a higher chance of spreading these variants. There are wildly different conditions in different parts of the world. The CDC says that you should look up the conditions of your destination before you travel. If any member of your family has been exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive for the disease, you should not travel.

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International Travel Requirements

When you travel, your destination might have different rules for travelers than the US. You might be required to get a negative test before you can enter the country or mingle with the population.

Some countries might require you to quarantine for two weeks. If you fail to comply with the rules laid out by the country, you might not be allowed to cross the border. You and your family may need to return to the US instead of going on your vacation.

If you are going to an area that has high rates of COVID-19 community spread, it’s a good idea to wear a mask, even when you’re outdoors. You should also consider wearing a mask when you’re doing activities that involve contact with non-vaccinated people.

A family of 4 wearing tehir face masks on a road trip taking a selfie

US Travel Requirements

There are certain federal requirements in place for when you travel within the US. This will affect you when you’re in an airport in the US and when you return home at the end of your vacation.

If you are taking any public transportation in the US like a bus, train, or plane, you need to wear a mask even if you’re vaccinated. You’re also required to wear masks inside train stations, airports, and other hubs of US transportation.

If you are outdoors, you are not required to wear a mask unless state law says otherwise. That said, unvaccinated people are highly recommended to wear masks while outdoors and around other people.

When you are not around your family members, you should try to stay six feet away from those surrounding you. Make sure that you use social distancing with people you aren’t familiar with.

Regular Hand Washing is a Must

Maintaining proper hygiene at all times is clearly a must. Children particularly must be reminded to wash hands and sanitize at regular intervals.

Returning Home to the US

When you return to the US after traveling internationally, you will be required to take a COVID test. You must have a negative test prior to getting on a plane and coming to the US. Alternatively, you must have documentation that you’ve recovered from the virus within the last three months.

After getting home from vacation, you should get another test to be sure. It’s also highly recommended that you self quarantine for a week.

Will it be “Safe” to Travel Internationally with Kids this Year?

2021 continues to represent a challenge for families looking to travel due to age restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines.

At present, COVID vaccines have only just started to be rolled out in the US to those 12 and older. Until under 12’s have access to a WHO-approved vaccine for emergency use, many restrictions will still apply for families, even following the health guidance above. Do check before you plan any international travel:

  • Will unvaccianted children be treated the same as the grown-up companion they are traveling with, or will separate restrictions apply to the children?
  • Will my travel insurance cover me if any part of my trip is affected by my family getting sick, or our trip being delayed due to COVID regulations?
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A difficult time for all families, there is no “one size fits all” answer but do your research before traveling anywhere, domestic or international and keep your family, and the community safe.

You can find more family travel health guidance on our website here

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