What if I’m not vaccinated?
Some countries do accept unvaccinated travelers, but most have testing requirements, and many have quarantine restrictions.
Several countries in Africa, including Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa, accept unvaccinated visitors from the United States as long as they show proof of negative COVID-19 tests. Some countries have long quarantine requirements. If you’re unvaccinated and visiting Tunisia, for example, you must be quarantined for 10 days.
A limited number of European countries also welcome unvaccinated travelers from the United States. Allowing unvaccinated visitors, if they get tested, are Croatia, Greece, and Portugal.
Countries within the UK, as well as Ireland, Italy, Iceland, and Austria, are among those that accept unvaccinated travelers from the US if they quarantine for several days — 14 in many locations. If you have proof of recovery from COVID-19, you can skip quarantine in many of those countries.
In South America, some countries such as Brazil allow unvaccinated travelers from the United States if they test negative for COVID-19. Colombia and Mexico have no restrictions. Mexico has been a popular travel destination for that reason, McNeill said.
If you’re not vaccinated, it’s important to respect the health and safety of other people when in public, she said.
“Wear a mask, do not put yourself at risk, and more importantly, do not put other people at risk even if you haven’t gotten sick,” McNeill said. “You don’t know, you could be a carrier. And these days, with all these new strains coming up, you could literally hurt other people. So if you are unvaccinated and you don’t have any plans to be vaccinated, have the courtesy of traveling smartly, and wear a mask, it’s the least you can do. But I think you can have a good experience as long as you are respectful of those health and safety protocols that are in place set by the receiving country or the receiving location.”
What requirements should I expect?
Tourists should research their destinations’ requirements, which could range from getting tested for COVID-19, quarantine, travel health insurance, or other documentation.
“Certain borders and certain countries are closed, and there’s protocols in the countries that are open, and the protocols are very different in each country, in each destination, and you just have to be aware of what they are so you’re prepared, “Swain said.
Some basic information applies in many places, however.
“Most countries are accepting vaccination travelers, and they need to have a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure flight from the US to the first port of call. There are some countries in Europe and Africa that require you to have a COVID test, which could be a PCR test or an antigen test on arrival. And there are other countries that allow you to travel throughout the country provided you’ve had no COVID and got the vaccination before you arrive. Then you need to have a test before you leave within 72 hours to return back to the USA, [then] you get entry into the States,” Swain said.
“If you’re traveling internationally and you’re traveling between countries, for example, let’s take an African trip and you’re traveling to South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia, you need to have COVID tests at each time you cross the border . But the travel companies will help arrange that. In Africa, especially in East Africa and South Africa, they will arrange for the testing to be done in the lodging that you’re staying at. And there are some countries that have the testing available right at the airport before you go and have instant tests, 15, 20 minutes wait, and then you’re cleared to go.”
Travelers should also research what they’ll be able to do once they arrive.
“In the past before COVID, you could go to a country and you had carte blanche, you could go anywhere you wanted, you could do things, eat anything you want. But now, as a result of COVID, the travel experience has changed,” McNeill said.
“New York, where you need to have a vaccine in order to go to a restaurant or to a hotel, go to a Broadway show, and those are things that people are going to be doing on vacation. But a lot of places have requirements where they want you to wear a mask. I think everybody knows right now that cruises, if you want to go on a cruise, you have to be vaccinated. There is no exception to that. But then what about places where you’re unvaccinated? Do you need just a COVID test? Do you need to quarantine?”
“But then on the flip side, you can have an extraordinary experience because there’s nobody at the Colosseum,” she added with a laugh. “You might be able to see the Mona Lisa without all of the cameras and tripods and selfie sticks.”
Expect protocols to change, McNeill said.
“Turks and Caicos, all you needed was a negative COVID test to enter. But now, you have to be vaccinated, and that changed. So if you had been to Turks back in May and you’re thinking you’re coming back for Christmas or something, well, guess what, you’re going to need a vaccine in order to get in,” she said. “So that’s what I mean when I say things change, and they change fairly quickly.”
It’s important to check restrictions within the United States too.
“I’m currently booking a trip to New York. It’s a last-minute trip for Christmas, and my clients didn’t know that in order to go to New York and have a good time, to go to restaurants and hotels, shows, anything of that nature that is public, they have to be vaccinated. People don’t know that, and they think New York is playing, and they’re not,” she said.
McNeill warned that inquire a destination’s restrictions is difficult because the language can be very technical and cities might have separate restrictions from the state or country in which they’re located.
But if you don’t do your research, it can be risky.
“It’s terrifying, because honestly you could have had all this money on your and your hotel and you get to the airport and you don’t have the documentation that you need, you haven’t had a COVID test, for example. Let’s say the location requires you to have a negative COVID test. Well, the airline is aware of this, and they will not let you board your flight. So then what happens? Everything after that falls apart. It’s like a domino effect,” McNeill said.
“And if you don’t have travel insurance, I hate to say it, but you are going to lose your travel investment. And for some people, that can be devastating because they saved all this money in the last year, and now they’re trying to spend it, and if you lose that, it’s gone.”
She recommends that travelers also try to ensure their destinations won’t be overly crowded, and that there will be plenty of activities to do in open spaces. And if you want to travel during the holidays in 2022, book now, McNeill said.
“If you’re trying to travel during the holidays this year, you’re about a year too late. Festive … that’s what we call Christmas and New Year .. festive has been sold out since around March,” she said.