If you are traveling, either for work or pleasure, this post includes updated tips for traveling today. Many countries are beginning to open-up for tourism, especially for those visitors who have had their Covid19 series of vaccinations or, at a minimum, are tested before departing for their country of choice.
Testing Travelers For Wellness
The two most common proof of wellness tests for American citizens
- PCR test (or similar NAAT test) – 72 hours before boarding
- Rapid Antigen Test – 48 hours before boarding
Watch out for the timing of these tests.
The 72 hours before boarding is 3 days before you head overseas. You may have a problem if the flight is delayed, or you miss your flight and can’t fly out for another day. Once the 72 -hour limit is exceeded another test will be required. It has been recommended to me that it is best to wait until 2 days before you leave to take the test but here’s a problem also: lots of places offer the test but few will guarantee you’ll have the results in time.
One national pharmacy employee I spoke with told me to get the test somewhere else and no one I spoke to providing a free test would guarantee my having the results when needed. Some companies will do the test and promise 1 to 2 hours for results, but those services are not free. In some cases, the cost is as much as $250. Bad enough but remember you may have to go through this process more than once, getting there, getting around, and getting home.
Check Country By Country Requirements
It is necessary to check well in advance with the various consulates to make sure you know what specific requirements each country has. Also, things change, so it is wise to double-check several days before you depart just to make sure.
Tips For Heading Back Home
Coming back to the United States these days requires proof that you are not infected. Typically, a PCR or Rapid Antigen Test would suffice using the same time before departure rules.
- It is probably not a good idea to wait and have your test done at the airport in case your result is a bad one. You might find yourself put up in a government-selected location at your own expense.
- I would seek out a resource where you’re staying to take the test a couple of days before your return flight. Anticipate needing an appointment.
- Unless you speak the language, find a source that can speak to you in English.
Check With Your Airline
The international airlines have information on these matters that can help you figure out what to do and referrals to places to get tested. Checkout their websites for information and for forms you’ll be required to have before boarding the flight.
Pay close attention to your flights. Airlines are making changes that could affect departure times or even dates.
Though other countries have been using vaccination passes or credentials of one kind or another (EU’s Digital Covid Certificate), I wouldn’t rely on a US vaccination card as enough proof. That said, I would be certain to bring the card with me because you might be required to show proof of vaccination at various venues in the country you’re visiting.
Stadiums, restaurants, museums, concerts are several venues where showing your vaccine card might make attending possible. I’m hoping at some point vaccine passports (like the EU’s) will be available to American citizens to enhance travel.
Vaccines or not, it is good practice to maintain social distance, wash hands, and wear a mask while traveling. Many countries have strict policies on mask-wearing and failure to follow the rules could be very, very expensive.
Make sure you wear your mask on the flight over and back. The airlines, the FAA, and Homeland Security and even the Department of Transportation are getting very strict on people who do not wear a mask and (worse) argue with a flight attendant about it. Heavy fines (I mean heavy) are being levied on people who disrupt flight or are violent.
Life is a journey, find someplace to go and have fun!