Published in our biweekly newsletter on 12-2-21. For travel updates straight to your inbox, subscribe here.
We’re monitoring the situation—and cutting through the misinformation
Hi everyone, Brook here. This week we’re carefully monitoring the repercussions that the Omicron variant is having—and not having—on travel. We’re happy that the C.D.C. will likely announce that travelers boarding a flight to the U.S. must have a negative test from the previous 24 hours. (Currently, vaccinated travelers need one from the previous three days.) Since the C.D.C. accepts rapid antigen tests, and those are most accurate when an individual is contagious, every traveler is safer the closer to flying time that their fellow passengers are tested. (Such rapid tests are much easier to get overseas, or to order online and pack in your suitcase, than you may realize. See below.) What we’re not so happy about is the misinformation flying around right now. For instance, you may have seen headlines about a U.S. ban on travelers from southern Africa, but the fact is that U.S. citizens may still return home from those countries. Throughout the pandemic, the U.S. has never banned its own citizens from entering the country! If it’s the straight facts you’re seeking to determine where and how to travel safely when the time is right, we’re your source. We’re monitoring the on-the-ground situation via your trip reviews too. Your daily feedback telling us how you’ve stayed safe—and had remarkable experiences—all over the world is invaluable. Read on for three such examples from November trips. Below you’ll also find the latest border news, and Covid testing resources to help you prepare for any upcoming travel. —Brook
The Countries That Are Open to U.S. Travelers and How to Get In
We’ve got the latest updates on entry requirements around the world. Fiji, Sweden, Bolivia, Uruguay, Cambodia, Thailand, and parts of Malaysia have opened to U.S. travelers recently. New Zealand announced a reopening date of April 30, 2022. Meanwhile, Morocco and Israel have closed their borders until mid-December, as we wait to learn more from scientists studying the Omicron variant. In the U.K., where travelers were already required to test within two days of their arrival, they now must self-isolate until they receive negative results.
How to Get a Quick Covid Test for Travel
In light of the Omicron variant (and the possibility of the U.S. tightening entry rules so that all travelers will be required to test within 24 hours of boarding a flight), there’s even more reason to carry a self-administered testing kit with you on a trip. They’re easy and fast: The only things you need for these tests are a half-hour of time and a Wi-Fi connection, so that a professional can monitor the swab and certify your results. We’ve outlined your options in our updated article.
JUST BACK FROM PORTUGAL
“Because of Covid, we did not want to spend too much time indoors…”
“Goncalo organized a wonderful week in Portugal for us in November 2021. We explored the region while based in a wonderful, historic hotel in Lisbon. Because of Covid, we did not want to spend too much time indoors and so did not plan to see museums or other things we might have done pre-Covid, but rather explored the region through history and architecture. Goncalo understood our concerns about traveling whilst still in a global pandemic and assured us that the hotels were taking all precautions and that guides would all be fully vaccinated and would wear masks while in the car with us. Each morning we were picked up at our hotel by our driver (Louis) and guide (Tiago). They were both great companions for our explorations. Tiago was absolutely fluent in English (American and British as well as five other languages!). He was very well versed in Portuguese culture, history, politics, and geography and was entertaining as well as informative. Goncalo had made lunch reservations for us each day and not only chose wonderful restaurants but seemed to get the best table for us. We had spectacular views as well as delicious meals.” —Kathleen Voldstad
JUST BACK FROM MEXICO
“We went to celebrations in small indigenous villages, went to larger town celebrations, hiked waterfalls, ziplined, boated down rivers to Mayan cities…”
“After having vacations cancelled for 3 years, we wanted an authentic Day of the Dead experience and to see Mayan archeological sites. We only had 2 months lead time and Zach knocked it out of the park! In 15 days, we had so many unique experiences in Chiapas where we spent 10 days with a guide and driver who felt like family by the end. We went to celebrations in small indigenous villages, went to larger town celebrations, hiked waterfalls, ziplined, boated down rivers to Mayan cities and felt like Indiana Jones! We stayed at boutique hotels I never would have found. One was an authentic 16th-century hacienda where they were shooting a movie and we watched from our patio while I sat with the director! Travelling through this gorgeous state was incredible. We finished in Mexico City with a sunrise balloon ride in our own balloon over Teotihuacan, visited museums and went to Saturday markets. The highlight, though, was a private tour at the National Anthropology Museum after hours. Having the museum to ourselves with a guide who was incredible was truly magical! We packed so much in and it all went without a hitch! I never could have planned this on my own and would never have considered many of the options we did and loved. It was a perfect mix of learning, adventure and relaxation. Bravo and thank you SO MUCH!!” —Lynne Willett
JUST BACK FROM PARIS
“In this environment a good trip planner adds real peace of mind…”
“We had the pleasure of working with Jennifer for our trip to Paris 11/14/21 through 11/21/21. We had real trepidation going to France and navigating their COVID requirements. Jennifer was quite knowledgeable and it all worked out well. We loved her recommended hotel and got our room of choice. She arranged for a very specific day trip to two chateaux in the environs with a lovely guide/driver. We went to her suggested two-star Michelin restaurant for an excellent meal. We were in constant touch with her and her staff. They were prompt and responsive. She suggested a car service to and from the airport; both drivers were courteous and right on time. Pre-COVID we only used a trip planner on occasion, but in this environment a good trip planner adds real peace of mind.” —Nina Krauthamer and Charles Blum
We’re Here to Help
As a travel journalist and consumer advocate for the past 30 years—first as Condé Nast Traveler’s advice columnist, then as TripAdvisor’s Travel Advocate—I’m all too aware of the travel concerns that need to be addressed as a result of this pandemic. For many trips, you’d be wise to use an extremely well-connected, extremely knowledgeable, destination-specific, trip-planning specialist who can act as your local fixer. You’d be even wiser to find and contact that trip planner via The WOW List, which is the first step in my WOW approach to trip planning, created by popular demand from my longtime readers. It’s the approach used by the travelers who are submitting these trip reviews and getting benefits including priority status, VIP treatment, my advice from the start of your trip planning, and the chance to win a surprise, custom-designed WOW Moment on a third qualifying trip. It all starts when you tell us about the trip you want via the questionnaires on The WOW List. —Wendy