Slowly but surely, countries around the world are planning to reopen. Yet many questions remain for travelers. And whether you’re itching to go on a trip soon or sometime in the next year, travel is going to look much different.
Flights will be limited and many restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future. As countries start allowing international travel, travelers from the U.S. and other countries still getting hit hard by coronavirus may not make the cut. Health screenings will be commonplace no matter where you go. And even after you get through those hurdles, your trip may be different: restaurants, bars, and tourist attractions may still be closed.
Still, there’s a glimmer of hope for international travel on the horizon. Iceland will open to travelers this summer – and the natural attractions that make Iceland so stunning make it the ideal destination.
When you start thinking about international travel again, these are the questions to ask before diving in.
Have Flights Resumed?
You can’t get there if you can’t fly there.
While that may seem obvious, it’s critical. Airlines are currently flying just a fraction of their typical international routes. For example, Delta flew dozens of routes to Europe from all across the U.S. before coronavirus struck. In June, it will operate just seven flights to Europe – and only from New York City (JFK), Detroit (DTW), and Atlanta.
So just because an airline is selling a nonstop flight to Venice (VCE) or Zurich (ZRH) for the fall or next winter doesn’t mean that flight will actually operate. Airlines will slowly add back the flights they’ve cut. And some may never return.
This all could seriously impact your travel plans. Flights may be canceled or rerouted. What once was an easy nonstop flight may now require a connection (or two!) Only over time will flights to many destinations become more regular and consistent.
Are There Travel Restrictions?
We’re so used to being able to hop on a plane and go almost anywhere without any problems. Sure, some countries require visas or certain vaccinations, but for the most part, Americans have been able to travel freely.
In the wake of COVID-19, that’s no longer the case. Each country is establishing its own regulations and restrictions for travel. Some may require tests upon arrival. Others will slowly open up to neighboring countries, or only countries that have successfully curbed coronavirus. That could leave U.S. travelers out.
Iceland will allow visitors to start coming in June, but only if you take a test, provide a recent negative result, or self-quarantine for 14 days. Greece will implement coronavirus testing, but may still limit entry to residents from just a handful of countries. Spain and Italy are considering keeping out most travelers until 2021.
So just because you can fly there doesn’t mean you’ll be able to travel freely. U.S. travelers’ options, in particular, may be far more limited for the near future.
Use the State Department’s website to search for travel restrictions to the country you want to visit. You don’t want to land and then be told you have to self-quarantine, or need certain documentation, or worse be turned away.
What Requirements and Restrictions are in Place at Your Destination?
Getting in is one thing. Once you’re there, you may find additional public health restrictions in place.
Make sure you’re prepared for what’s in store by doing some research. In Greece, for example, you’ll be required to wear a mask on public transport and in taxis. Failure to do so could result in a fine.
Just like in the U.S., businesses themselves may require masks and have other measures in place. Be prepared and make sure to pack a few extra masks and know when and where you should be wearing them.
What Will be Open?
Restaurants, bars, museums, and sports and event centers are why many people love to travel. But they’ll also be among the slowest to reopen in many countries.
Check to see what will be open and plan accordingly. That may mean staying in an Airbnb so you can cook more often – or at least enjoy takeout at a table instead of on your hotel room bed.
If the main tourist sites, attractions, and museums are still closed, maybe a trip to a large city doesn’t make sense. Instead head for a destination with outdoor attractions and activities. Hiking, biking, boating, and countryside road trips will keep you entertained and allow for easy social distancing.
Will There be Restrictions Imposed When You Get Home?
Most states have lifted their most onerous stay-at-home orders, but each state and city is different.
Check with local guidelines to see whether you might face quarantine when you return. And if quarantining for two weeks is out of the question, that could derail your international trip.
Of course, your employer may have its own rules, too. If you’re not still working from home, check with your boss to see what may be in store when it’s time to return to work.
International travel is slowly reopening, but it won’t be as easy as it once was any time soon. There will be restrictions and hoops to jump through, and complications at home and abroad.
Do your research to know exactly what’s in store for that next international trip on your mind.