Travel is finally opening up again – with a few caveats. Before you start packing your suitcases, it's important to do some research about your destination to make sure your trip goes smoothly.
Here are seven things worth looking up about your chosen destination:
Travellers should find out how high the risk of infection is in the country where they are heading. This information can usually be found fairly easily online, usually on government websites or through the local media. The infection situation could determine if you'll have to enter quarantine or take special precautions when heading home.
Even if you're travelling from one European country to another, it's important to check the entry requirements for your destination, as each country has its own rules regarding who is allowed to enter.
Embassy websites or the destination country's tourism or foreign ministry pages will usually lay out the requirements. Travellers can see what conditions apply to people who are fully vaccinated, anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 and those who have tested negative.
You can also check what kind of testing is required so you know whether a rapid antigen test is enough or if you need a PCR test, in which case you'll need a bit of preparation in advance.
It's not uncommon for travellers to also have to register before entering. "Many people forget this," according to Anke Budde, vice president of the Alliance of Independent Travel Companies.
It's a relatively quick process in countries like Portugal, for example, where you can fill out the form at the airport you're departing from. But in Greece, you have to make sure all this is done up to 24 hours before you start your trip – or you could face a fine.
Families should also find out whether their children need to test negative for the virus in addition to the adults, Budde adds.
In many countries, if you are fully vaccinated, you won't need to take tests or prove you have recovered from the coronavirus, making it easier to travel as you face far fewer restrictions and hurdles.
In some countries, like Italy, however, a test remains compulsory.
Also important: "Fully vaccinated" applies starting 14 days after your second jab – or in the case of Johnson & Johnson, just the one.
In many cases, for now, showing the paper documenting your COVID-19 shot record is enough. However, there are efforts underway to digitize this proof through an app, a kind of digital vaccine pass.
The European Union is rolling out its own "green pass" digital vaccine passport to ease travel within the bloc, and airlines, technology companies and other bodies are working on versions too.
Each country has its own set of coronavirus safety rules that often change, so it's best to get up to date shortly before you travel on how things stand so there are no surprises when you finally arrive.
For example, some countries, such as Germany, stipulate what types of masks are allowed where, says Budde. People are working hard to make sure the rules are followed, and even if some hotels seem to take things a bit far, "it's all for people's own safety," she says.
For travel within the EU, reopen.europa.eu provides comprehensive information about test requirements and measures in each country.
Being a citizen or resident isn't enough to simply be allowed back into your home country after travelling abroad: Some countries require all returning travellers to present a negative rapid antigen test during the boarding process at the departure airport.
Vaccinated travellers and those who have recovered from the coronavirus are usually exempt from these testing requirements.
Vacationers should check if their health insurance will work abroad and consider travel health insurance in case they fall ill with COVID-19. Read the fine print, as pandemics aren't always covered.
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