(CNN) — New year, new perspectives, new travel plans.
This is when many people tend to plan their getaways for the year based on school calendars, family events, good weather, major festivals, exhibitions and concerts. And, again, covid-19 received no notice.
As we enter the third year of the global pandemic as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads across the globe, there are still many variables to consider.
Can we make travel plans right now?
Yes, definitely, says CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
The easiest way to travel hassle-free
In fact, those with extra immunity to covid could be in a great position to see the world.
“Those who are vaccinated and recently infected with omicron are unlikely to be re-infected so soon. It would be entirely reasonable for someone in this situation to plan a trip,” Wen said, recalling being careful when returning and self. -Quarantine and get tested before seeing a medically vulnerable person.
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Fortunately, those who are vaccinated and strengthened are also fit to travel, said Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long advised people to delay travel until they are fully immunized. Although the agency hasn’t added the booster to its definition of “fully vaccinated,” it recommends doing so if you’re eligible.
Travel consultant Dave Hershberger also recommends it, for another reason. More and more destinations are including vaccination reminders in their travel regulations.
In Austria, for example, visitors need a booster test or a negative PCR test in addition to proof of vaccination. The Czech Republic allows vaccinated travelers not to have to be tested on arrival.
Getting vaccinated is “the first box to check if you’re going to travel right now,” says Hershberger, owner of Prestige Travel in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Despite the ongoing travel disruptions and complications right now, the landscape is completely different than a year ago when vaccines were just rolling out.
“Travel now, if you’re vaccinated it probably won’t get you to the hospital,” Hershberger said.
The essentials: research and testing
Travel restrictions change, change and change again. And there have been significant air travel disruptions, which you can read more about here.
According to Hershberger, it takes travel advisors two to three times longer than before the pandemic to organize the same trips.
Getting professional help can save you a lot of time. Whether you hire an advisor or do it yourself, patience is key.
“It’s not a 2019 trip. It’s different, and probably will be for a while, and so you have to be flexible, you have to do your research.”
You need to know exactly what the destinations you plan to visit require. CNN Travel has compiled a list of resources to help travelers find out. We also have a number of guides specific to the Unlocking the World destination.
“And if you check it a month in advance, you have to check it again two weeks before your trip, and you have to check it again a week in advance,” says Hershberger.
Even before the omicron variant, Ashley Les, travel consultant for Protravel International, directed cautious travelers to direct flights to places that required pre-trip testing.
In this way, almost all passengers on the flight had tested negative for covid-19, as explained to CNN Travel ahead of the holiday. That certainty is not achieved by flying to the United States, he said.
Now he suggests that further tests be carried out.
“Even if your destination doesn’t require testing, do it!” Les said this week via email. “This way you will know that you are traveling without covid”.
Les also suggests minimizing interactions with other people a week before travel.
Packing a few quick tests to “calm down” if you start to feel unwell is also a good idea, Hershberger said.
The other safeguard: insurance
For travelers to the United States and many other countries, testing to return home after international travel has become commonplace. And it got pretty easy in a lot of places, Hershberger said.
“It’s not a very difficult thing to do. If you’re in a tourist area, it’s very easy to do. If you’re on a cruise ship, they’ll do it for you,” he said. declared. Here are all the details from the CDC on what tests are acceptable to enter the United States.
The real challenge comes if you test positive, which is not uncommon with the omicron variant in vaccinated people.
You will then have to extend your trip and self-quarantine for a period of time, often at your own expense, unless you have travel insurance.
“I wouldn’t dream of traveling without some sort of travel insurance to help me with something like this,” Hershberger said, particularly of international travel.
Hershberger was recently in Argentina, where visitors who test positive are required to quarantine for seven to 10 days at a state-approved hotel “for $400 a day, in addition to paying a visit from a doctor”.
Thus, travelers could spend an additional $4,000 or more to extend their trip. The appropriate insurance policy from a provider such as Travel Guard, Allianz or Travel Insured International would cover this.
SquareMouth.com allows users to compare travel insurance quotes from different providers.
Les agrees that “travel insurance is always essential”.
How to choose a destination
With more than 100 destinations currently listed as “very high” risk for covid-19 by the CDC, it would appear that much of the world is on lockdown.
But we do know that people regularly travel to and from countries that constantly increase and decrease the level of risk based on their number of COVID cases. Wen calls the CDC classifications “a useful tool.”
“Transmission rates are a benchmark,” Wen said. “Another is what precautions are needed and followed where you are going, and the third is what you plan to do once you get there.”
“Are you planning on visiting a lot of attractions and going to closed bars? It’s very different from going to a place where you plan to lay on the beach all day and not interact with anyone else. It’s very different. It’s very different levels. of risk.”
And the precautions of where you go are also important. A location that requires proof of vaccination for restaurants or sports venues makes those types of activities safer for you.
Of course, standard safety precautions still apply: wear a high-quality N95, KN95, or KF94 mask when traveling by air and when indoors with large crowds, and follow the rules stipulated at destination.
Dealing with the unexpected is the pandemic way of life, and travel is no exception.
“If you’re the type of person who can’t stand change, last minute changes, I would suggest staying home for a while,” Hershberger said. “You have to know how to go with the flow.”