Tag Archives: safety

How to Protect Yourself and Have Peace of Mind When You Travel

It may feel like the pandemic is over, but if you are planning a trip, there are specific things you need to do in order to protect yourself. In this talk, experts from the fields of health, travel insurance, and emergency assistance tell you how to prepare.

The WendyPerrin.com team was joined by experts on Covid medicine, travel insurance, and travel emergency assistance:

  • Dr. Timothy Triche, Professor of Pathology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine
  • Stan Sandberg, Co-Founder of travel-insurance comparison site TravelInsurance.com
  • Sheri Howell, Vice President of air-medical-transport and crisis-response provider Medjet


(6:40) What travel insurance covers and does not cover during this stage of the pandemic

Stan Sandberg of Travelinsurance.com explains what travel insurance covers these days (Covid and otherwise), plus the ins and outs of successfully protecting your investment.

(23:14) The health tools we have for managing Covid concerns when we travel

Dr. Timothy Triche, Professor of Pathology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, lays out the tools we have to combat Covid when we travel, including why you still want to wear a mask on planes—and which type of mask.

(39:29) Getting yourself home if you run into trouble during a trip

Sheri Howell of Medjet—the membership program that provides global air medical transport, travel security, and crisis response—talks about how and when travelers who are stuck abroad can get home, how Medjet handles members who contract Covid, and how Medjet responds to a security threat or other crisis.

(52:20) Wendy and the experts take questions from the audience

The panelists field questions including how to get medical treatment overseas, whether it’s possible to obtain antivirals ahead of travel, the ideal timing for buying insurance before a trip, and whether Medjet has any age or geographic exclusions.

Read more


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How to Get a Quick Covid Test for Travel

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“Cancel For Any Reason” CFAR Travel Insurance: What It Is and How It Works

Traveler Reviews of Pandemic Trips Arranged by WOW List trip-planning experts

Wendy’s Travel Advice for 2022

New Nonstop Flights To Make Your Travels Easier in 2022

CDC Covid Tracker

Worldometer Coronavirus cases/deaths/recoveries counter

Covariants.org: An overview of Covid variants


What Vaccinated Travelers Do and Do Not Need to Worry About

If you’re vaccinated, what do and don’t you need to worry about when traveling internationally during Covid?  We interviewed Dr. Timothy Triche on this topic on May 4, 2021, during WOW Week, our series of virtual get-togethers addressing today’s most pressing travel questions.  Unlike some of the talking heads we see in the media, Dr. Triche is an experienced world traveler who is able to assess and explain Covid risk in the context of the type of international travel that our sophisticated readers do.  Fast forward the video to 6:45 if you’d like to skip the intros and get straight to the meat and potatoes of our interview.

Dr. Triche is a Professor of Pathology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. He is the Co-Director for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Center for Personalized Medicine and, before that, headed its Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine for 20 years. He has been working on coronavirus solutions since the start of the pandemic. He was responsible for developing the DNA-sequencing-based Covid-testing program at Children’s Hospital/USC Keck School of Medicine, and he is actively engaged in vaccine development efforts designed for use in places like Africa that lack ready access to health care. 

In our conversation, Dr. Triche explained—in clear and understandable language—many topics of concern to travelers, including:

•What variants are, how they spread
•How vaccines offer protection and to what degree
•How to gauge risk in various locations around the world
•Interpreting CDC and State Department warnings
•Air travel risk, including long-haul vs. short flights and airports
•Traveling with unvaccinated children
•Traveling between the first and second dose of vaccine
•The risk factor of cruises

Dr. Triche answered many additional questions, and shared his own travel plans, so be sure to watch the video.

Updates emailed to us by Dr. Triche since his talk:

  • July 28This study helps explain why the Delta variant has become so prevalent: Infected individuals produce far more virus than they would when infected with the original version, making it more transmissible. Dr. Triche points out that “99% of the cases are occurring in unvaccinated persons,” and advises that “the prudent traveler will check before departure and look for adverse trends like rapidly increasing case numbers.”
  • May 26: This study found that people who have been infected with Covid possess long-term immunity that lasts many years.  “If we are lucky, vaccinated individuals will show the same pattern,” says Dr. Triche.  He points out that people who contracted the original SARS virus—the coronavirus identified in 2003—remain immune to it today.  “I’m getting optimistic that this may be like the original SARS story, where people remain immune 18 years later,” says Dr. Triche.
  • May 21:  People in Los Angeles County who have been fully vaccinated have only a 0.03% chance of getting coronavirus.  Of those who become infected after vaccination, the vast majority have no symptoms.  “This is by no means unique to L.A.,” writes Dr. Triche.  “This is what happens in any country with widespread vaccinations.”  A vaccinated traveler’s chance of dying from Covid is about one chance in a million, he adds.
  • May 14:  People in Illinois who have been fully vaccinated have a 0.06% chance of contracting the virus.
  • May 6These numbers show that mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are highly effective against the most worrisome coronavirus variants.
  • May 5These data about long-term immunity help answer the question:  How long will I be protected after vaccination?  No one knows yet, says Dr. Triche, but likely at least the better part of a year or more.  These findings show that even if your antibody levels fall, you are still protected.

Excerpts from the video, edited for clarity and length:


Q: A lot of people are worried about traveling to a place where there is a variant.  They think, oh my gosh, there’s a new variant in that city—I’d better avoid that entire continent. Which variants do we need to worry about? 

DR. TRICHE:  People keep talking about variants. But they’re confusing two things. There’s lineage—in other words, something that spreads from Person A to Person B—and lineage is also often called a variant. That doesn’t mean nearly as much as the particular constellation of mutations in that lineage or variant. And unfortunately, the variants pick up new mutations over time, and they still call it the same variant. What matters most is the group of mutations in any variant.

The reason this happens is that mutations are like roulette. It’s like going to Las Vegas: Every time that virus makes a copy of itself, there’s a chance it will pick up one of these mutations. If [the mutation] makes it work better from the virus’s viewpoint, it’s going to become common in that population. And so, unfortunately, these mutations are going to happen around the world, over and over, as long as this pandemic goes on.  All that really matters is:  Does it make a difference for your immunity?  And the answer is:  Some mutations diminish your immunity, but they don’t make you non-immune.… Let’s just pretend that it takes 10 million viruses to infect you, even if you were not immune, with a normal strain.… With a bad mutant strain, it might take less than that. Even so, if you’re vaccinated, the chance you would encounter enough viral particles to overcome your immunity is very low, probably less than one chance in 10,000. So, unless you’re in extraordinary circumstances, you’re going to be immune to all the variants in the world right now.

Vaccines, India, Brazil, and South Africa

Q: Are there countries that we should avoid because of a variant?  How comfortable can we be that current vaccines are going to protect us against the variants out there?

DR. TRICHE:  I wouldn’t worry so much about the variants.  Remember, you’re likely immune against all the current variants if you’ve been vaccinated.  It’s just the level of your immunity: Let’s say that your immunity could be measured as five-plus, four-plus, three-plus, two-plus, one-plus. Your immunity for the original variant that the vaccine was made against is five-plus; your immunity for the nastiest variants might be three-plus. However, in this scheme, it takes one-plus to be immune. So you’re covered—it’s just that the coverage is less assured, less guaranteed for some of the nasty variants, depending on your immune system and the magnitude of your exposure. What worries me most is going into an area with a high prevalence of the nasty variants of the virus. Remember, I said earlier, there’s no such thing as an absolute guarantee of immunity for anybody at any time, because it is possible to overwhelm your immune system. I mean, if you drink a quart of viral isolates, you’re probably going to get the disease, regardless of how immune you are, because you’re going to overwhelm your immune system.  What worries me is going into an area where the virus is endemic, everywhere you turn, and you’re getting exposed to it over and over again. I fear that there’s a chance that you’re simply going to overwhelm your immunity. And so I worry less about variants than I do about the local prevalence of the disease. So, back to your first question: Personally, I would not be traveling to Brazil or to India right now. In contrast, South Africa has improved dramatically.

Q: Have they almost reached herd immunity now in South Africa?

DR. TRICHE:  That’s what it looks like, yeah, because the rate of decline in South Africa now is extraordinary and unprecedented. I would never have dreamed this would happen. And there’s really only one explanation. It’s not that suddenly everybody got vaccinated. It’s because they got vaccinated and also so many people got the virus and they are testing and social distancing. I mean, it was rampant, as you know, out in the Cape Town area, and then eventually, throughout South Africa—it just tore through the population. And now it’s in a precipitous decline, which is what you see when you reach herd immunity. So it sure looks like they are, yes.

Q:  As for India, you say that the problem in India was really caused not by the viral strains or mutations, but by human behavior. I mean, isn’t the spread of this virus really, in the end, all about human behavior?

DR. TRICHE:  Absolutely. To be fair, I would say it’s like 95% human behavior and 5% strain. The reason the strain is relevant is because if one version of the virus is more transmissible than the other, that would mean nothing until you pack them into some sort of religious festival with 100,000 people standing next to one another. Guess what happens with the more transmissible variant?  More people will get sick, and it’ll spread through the population more successfully and efficiently. But if the crowd never occurred in the first place, the virus has no place to go. So the combination of a more transmissible virus and a lot of people hanging around together is a real bad combination. And that’s what happened in India:  They had a bunch of religious festivals and political gatherings. And, of course, then it went absolutely exponential.

Air travel

Q: So you want to avoid masses of people. Do you consider airports to be masses of people?

DR. TRICHE:  Not like what we saw in India or Brazil or South Africa.  In an airport, presumably, there are so many safeguards. One of the reasons I think things are going so well in South Africa now is that now they have many, many safeguards in place: You get tested at the airport for positivity, you get tested for symptoms.  Everybody arriving gets tested, everybody leaving gets tested.  When you put those types of measures in place, you limit the possibility of spread. And, let’s be honest, most of the pandemic has been driven by so called “super-spreader events.”  So what you don’t want is the so-called Typhoid Mary—the person who doesn’t know that they are about to come down with it, and they go have dinner with 100,000 people. Guess what happens? 100,000 people now get the virus.…  An airport’s not like that. It is transient exposure, and many people have been cleared. So the probability of there being a problem in a place like an airport is minuscule, compared to a religious festival or political rally.

Q: When people worry about the airplane flight, a big factor they consider is the length of the flight.  Are they right? What are the most important things to consider about an airplane flight to minimize your risk?

DR. TRICHE:  [Worrying about the length of the flight] is like saying, The longer I live on this planet, the greater my probability of getting hit by an asteroid. We don’t spend a lot of time worried about getting hit by an asteroid, do we?  So yes, a longer airplane flight is, by definition, statistically speaking, greater risk, but if the risk is so minuscule — I mean, think about everything you do in life:  If you get in your car and you pull out of the driveway, you are taking a defined risk. If you pull out of your driveway twice, you’re doubling your risk. Do you not drive because of that? No, you drive despite it, right?  Because your perception of risk for driving your car is very low, but, statistically speaking, it’s probably worse than getting on an airplane and taking a four-hour or an eight-hour or ten-hour flight. I mean, people get killed in cars every day, but not that many people have developed COVID from air travel. Relatively speaking, it’s relatively safe.

There have been some exceptions—and that’s what worries everybody—but the exceptions are not the rule. Personally, what I worry about much more is the off-chance that the guy sitting next to me in the middle seat is a Covid carrier, doesn’t know it, and is breathing all over me for the entire flight.  In that case, the fact that I’m wearing my mask, except when I’m eating or drinking, ought to provide adequate protection.  The difference between a four-hour flight and a ten-hour flight is probably minuscule, as opposed to not wearing your face mask…. But again, I emphasize, the odds are very, very low. Because the airlines have obviously gone to extraordinary lengths to clean up the air in the airplanes. It’s far cleaner now than it was pre-COVID, by the way.

Dr. Triche’s own travel plans

Q:  A viewer wants to know when and where is your next international trip?

DR. TRICHE:  My problem right now is our planned trip included a young grandchild who’s not vaccinated. So we are in a bit of a bind right now, because I really don’t want to take her on an international trip until she gets vaccinated.  It looks like that’s going to happen anytime now, so that makes me feel a lot better. For myself, personally, I would not be averse to traveling anytime soon. Again, with all the caveats we said earlier. I’m not going to India or Brazil. And until I know a little bit more about the on-the-ground situation in South Africa—I mean, the numbers are falling precipitously, but I would certainly not want to accidentally land in a hotspot that I didn’t know about.  But, you know, from what I’m hearing and reading, even that’s fair game. And certainly once you get out of the cities—and this would be true of most of Africa—you’re in a situation where, particularly in the lodges (where, from what I understand, all the staff is being tested), that’s an extremely safe environment. So, in situations where you know your destination is being tested, and people are unlikely to be spewing virus all over your dinner plate, I would feel very comfortable. The airplane travel is, I think, far less risky than being exposed to that little minibus ride from the airport with a whole bunch of people in it and you’re wondering if everybody in this bus has been vaccinated and if anybody is a carrier. Those are the scenarios that I would worry more about. I don’t want to be in an enclosed environment that’s not controlled—as opposed to an airplane, for example—for prolonged periods of time, when I don’t know the status of the other people in the vehicle with me. Same reason we’re not eating inside in restaurants right now. Because this virus is spread from person to person. And the only efficient mode of transmission is in a closed environment. If you’re outside, it’s not going to happen. Surface contamination is extraordinarily unlikely. Stay inside in a room with a few people, one of whom is exhaling the virus, and you’ve got a potential problem.


We’re Here to Help

Right now is a remarkable opportunity for global travelers who are vaccinated. When your friends say that travel is problematic as a result of the pandemic—rental cars aren’t available, service even at 5-star hotels is shoddy—the problem is they’re not planning their trips right! Travel can be spectacular now if you choose the right destination, know the savviest local fixers, and approach them the optimal way. Check out these recent trip reviews to see the difference that Wendy’s WOW approach to trip planning makes. And if you’re looking for a similarly carefree travel experience, contact us at Ask Wendy.


Be a safer, smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. And read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip.

United States of America map. USA map with states and state names isolated

Every State’s Coronavirus and Travel Information

Even when you arm yourself with the info below—each state’s most useful resources about quarantine rules, caseloads, reopening (or re-closing) plans, and guidance for travelers—it is tough to anticipate all the potential snags of a Covid-era trip.

A smart, safe, luxury vacation within the U.S.—say, in a remote wilderness lodge in Alaska, or on a private sailboat off New England—is possible, but so much depends on your specific individual situation that we recommend you write to us directly for personalized advice. We are longtime travel journalists with a network of smart travel sources, so we’re accustomed to cutting through the noise and news to get reliable answers about travel during Covid-19 (which we’ve been collecting in our Covid-19 Travel section, which includes intel on testing, insurance, and first-hand accounts from travelers). If you are thinking about a future international trip, we can advise you on that too. Don’t miss our article tracking which countries are open to U.S. travelers and what you can do there; if you are fully vaccinated, you can check out the subset of countries where you can travel if you’re vaccinated without pre-trip testing.

Note that the CDC now requires all air passengers coming into the U.S. to have proof of a negative test or documentation of recovery from Covid-19 before they board the plane. This requirement goes for U.S. citizens too. (Masks are required on all forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.)

Once you land, the CDC recommends getting tested 3–5 days later, along with a post-trip self-quarantine of 7 days. Even if you test negative, they advise you to stay home for all 7 days. If you don’t get tested, the quarantine is 10 days. To help with that, we have info on how to get a quick-turnaround Covid test.




No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Alabama’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard

Traveler Information (Alabama Tourism)



All nonresidents over the age of 10, including those who have been vaccinated, are asked to upload health declarations and information to Alaska’s Safe Travels online portal.

Travelers must provide proof of negative molecular-based SARS-CoV-2 test taken within 72 hours of arrival or take a free COVID-19 test at the airport. If your results are pending or if you take the test at the airport, you must strictly social distance (both at your own expense) until results come back.  A second test taken 5 to 14 days after arrival is requested.

Fully vaccinated travelers do not have to test or quarantine.

Travelers who have documentation that they tested positive within the past 90 days do not have to submit to pre-trip testing or testing on arrival, but are strongly encouraged to get tested after 5 to 14 days in the state.

Beginning June 1, 2021, at participating airports, all travelers to Alaska will be eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information

Safe Travels information

Reopening Plan

Traveler information, restrictions, and advisories (Travel Alaska)



No travel restrictions for visitors

State Coronavirus Updates

Department of Health Services and Reopening Guidance

Traveler information, restrictions, and advisories (Visit Arizona)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Arkansas COVID-19 Information Hub

Arkansas COVID-19 Data Dashboard

Traveler information (Arkansas Tourism)



The state strongly discourags travel, asking people to delay until they’re fully vaccinated. For those who must travel, the advice is to follow CDC guidelines, i.e. get tested 1-3 days before travel, and 3-5 days after travel, and when you get home, self-quarantine for 7 days, no matter what your test results were. If you didn’t get tested, self-quarantine for 10 days.

All restrictions except those for conventions of more than 5,000 attendees are scheduled to lift statewide on June 15.

California COVID-19 Information Hub

Business and activity restrictions by county

COVID-19 Data Dashboard

Traveler Information for the State (Visit California)

Traveler information by region (Visit California)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

Colorado COVID-19 Information Hub

Colorado COVID-19 Data Dashboard

Information on what’s open (state parks, campsites, retail, etc.)

Traveler guidance (Colorado Tourism)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but the state recommends following CDC guidelines for safe travel. Masks are required in public (indoors and outdoors) when six feet of social distancing is not possible

Connecticut COVID-19 Information Hub

Latest guidance on masks, social distancing, and what businesses are open

Traveler Advice and Regulations (Visit CT)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Delaware’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Traveler Advisory (Visit Delaware)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Florida’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Florida’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard

Florida’s Reopening Plan

Traveler Advisory Updates (Florida Health Department)

Traveler Advice (Visit Florida)

Walt Disney World parks information (including mask requirement)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Georgia’s COVID-19 Hub

Department of Health Daily Status Report

Traveler Advice and what’s open (Explore Georgia)



Hawaii has strict requirements for travelers:

•All travelers to Hawaii (including to Kau’ai) must have a negative Covid test prior to boarding the last leg of their flight to Hawaii and must upload the results to the state’s Safe Travels website before arrival. Anyone without a test or proof of the results must quarantine for 10 days. Travelers without a test or who cannot show sufficient proof of a negative test, must quarantine for 10 days or until they can show proof of negative results (testing and quarantine are at travelers’ own expense). All travelers, regardless of testing, will undergo temperature checks on arrival and must fill out a travel and health form. Some airlines are offer pre-flight virus testing to Hawaii-bound passengers.

Effective July 8: Travelers who have been fully vaccinated in the U.S. can bypass Hawaii’s pre-trip Covid test and quarantine requirement. Travelers must upload their CDC card to the state’s Safe Travels Program and bring the card with them to Hawaii.

•Only certain tests are accepted by the state of Hawaii: FDA-approved NAAT nasal swab test from a CLIA-certified approved partner laboratory.

•Covid tests and quarantine are no longer required for travel between islands.

Hawaii COVID-19 Information Hub

Hawaii Travel info: Safe Travels Hub and test results upload information

Travel FAQs

COVID-19 Data Dashboard



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

Idaho’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Idaho’s Reopening Plan

Traveler Advice (Visit Idaho)



The state has no restrictions for travelers, but Chicago does. The city’s testing and quarantine requirements are based on outbreak data for each state or territory. Travelers coming from a state or territory designated as Orange must quarantine for 10 days (or the length of their stay, if it’s less than 10 days), have proof of a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of arrival to Chicago, or be fully vaccinated no less than two weeks prior to arrival. Travelers from yellow states do not have to test or quarantine. Everyone has to wear masks and abide by social distancing.

Illinois COVID-19 Information Hub

Chicago COVID-19 Information Hub

Restore Illinois reopening plan

Chicago reopening information

Chicago Emergency Travel Order and yellow/orange state designations



No travel restrictions for visitors

Indiana’s COVID-19 Information Hub and Data Dashboard

Traveler Resources (Visit Indiana)

Traveler Resources for Indianapolis (Visit Indy/Indianapolis Tourism)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

Iowa’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Current Case Status Dashboard

Traveler Advice (Travel Iowa)



Quarantine is required for visitors who have been on a cruise, been to a mass event outside the state, and from certain states and countries. The length of the quarantine varies with each situation, and the list of states and countries is reviewed every two weeks. The length of quarantine may be shortened depending on whether you’ve been tested.

Kansas’s COVID-19 Resource Center

COVID-19 Cases Dashboard

Traveler Guidance (Travel KS)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

Kentucky’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Latest updates and openings

Travel Advisory (Kentucky state government)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Louisiana’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Traveler Information (Louisiana Travel)

Traveler info for New Orleans (New Orleans Tourism)


As of May 1, visitors from all states are exempt from Maine’s previous quarantine and testing requirements. However, if a state has a spike, the Maine CDC will re-apply requirements for visitors to and from that state.

Maine’s Coronavirus Hub

Division of Disease Surveillance and current data

Travel Protocols, FAQs, and Openings (Visit Maine Tourism)


No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Covid Data Dashboard

Reopening Plan

Traveler Guidance (Visit Maryland) 


Visitors and returning residents are advised to follow a 10-day quarantine.  If a traveler can show a negative test result administered up to 72 hours before arrival, or if they are two weeks out from their final dose of a vaccine, they may bypass quarantine (but quarantine must be observed until the test results are received). Visitors staying in Massachusetts for less than 24 hours can also bypass quarantine

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening Plan

Covid-19 Travel Advisory (state government)

Tourism information and Traveler FAQ (Visit MA) 


No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening Plan

Guidelines for Traveles (Michigan tourism)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening plan and phases

Travel information (Minnesota Department of Health)

Travelers Guidance (Explore Minnesota)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Mississippi Case and Data Dashboard

Traveler Guidance (Visit Mississippi)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Missouri Recovery Plan

Traveler Guidance (Visit Missouri)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Traveler Guidance and Resources (Visit MT)

Contact Info for Montana’s Tribal Nations and Reservations



Visitors to Nebraska from domestic locations have no travel restrictions, but anyone arriving from an international destination must follow CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Nebraska Case and Data Dashboard

Traveler Recommendations (Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services)

Traveler Guidance (Visit Nebraska)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening and phases plan

State-wide Traveler Information (Visit Nevada)

Traveler Information for Las Vegas (Visit Las Vegas)


New Hampshire

Travelers from domestic locations have no travel restrictions, but are advised to follow CDC guidelines, including getting a PCR test 3-5 days after travel.

Travelers returning from cruises or international travel must quarantine for 10 days. They may test out of quarantine if they take a PCR test on day 6 or 7 (antigen/rapid tests are unacceptable), results come back negative, and they are asymptomatic. But the state advises these travelers to self-monitor for symptoms for all 10 days and strictly adhere to mitigation measures.

Travelers do not need to quarantine for 10 days or get tested for COVID-19 if either of the following apply: They have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccination and more then 14 days have passed since receiving the second dose, OR they tested positive for active COVID-19 infection (by PCR or antigen testing) in the last 90 days (if the infection was more than 90 days ago, then the traveler must follow the quarantine rules).

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

Reopening Plan

Traveler information and quarantine rules (state)

Tourism resources (Visit NH)


New Jersey

Non-essential travel is strongly discouraged, but if you do travel it is recommended that you follow CDC guidelines and get tested 1–3 days before the trip and 3–5 days after. Even if you test negative, you should still quarantine for 7 days. If testing is not available or results are delayed, you should quarantine for 10 days.

Fully vaccinated travelers and those who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past three months are exempt.

All travelers from from New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Delaware (even if unvaccinated) are also exempt.

NJ’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Live Data Dashboard

Traveler Quarantine Information and Health Form (Visit NJ)

Reopening Plan


New Mexico

Travelers arriving from high-risk states (with a 5% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day average) are advised to self-quarantine for at least 10 days and to seek out a Covid test. Testing locations and availabilities are available at togethernm.org.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions & Recommendations (New Mexico Department of Health)

Traveler information (New Mexico Tourism)


New York

There are no quarantine or testing requirements for asymptomatic domestic or asymptomatic international travelers arriving in New York, but the state still recommends testing and quarantine for the following groups:

•Fully vaccinated individuals who have not recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3
months are recommended to get tested 3-5 days after arrival in New York from
international travel.
•All unvaccinated domestic and international travelers who have not recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months are recommended to get tested 3-5 days after arrival in New York, consider non-mandated self-quarantine (7 days if tested on day 3-5, otherwise
10 days), and avoid contact with people at higher risk for severe disease for 14 days,
regardless of test result.

All travelers must still complete the Traveler Health Form unless the traveler had left New York for less than 24 hours or is coming to New York from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.

New York State’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Phased Regional Reopening Information

Cases and Data Dashboard

NY State Covid-19 Travel Advisory (state government)

NY State Traveler Information (NY State tourism)

New York City Traveler Information (NYCGo)


North Carolina

No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Data Dashboard

Reopening Plan with information on local restrictions and what’s open

Traveler Guidance (Visit NC)


North Dakota

No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening Updates

Traveler Guidance (State Health Department)

Traveler Guidance (ND Tourism)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Data Dashboard

Ohio Reopening Plan

 State Travel Advisory (Ohio Department of Health)



Travelers are requested to wear face masks and limit participation in indoor gatherings for 10 to 14 days, in accordance with CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Traveler Guidance (Oklahoma Department of Health)

Traveler Guidance (Oklahoma City)



Travelers are requested to self-quarantine for 14 days. Travelers are exempt if they are 14 days past their final vaccine dose and have no COVID-19 symptoms.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening Plan and County Status

Travel Alerts (Travel Oregon)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Hospital Data

Traveler information (Pennsylvania Department of Health)


Rhode Island

Domestic travelers from hot spots (the list is updated regularly) must provide proof of a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of arrival  or quarantine for 10 days.

International travelers must quarantine for 10 days, but If you have a negative result from a test taken at least 5 days after you arrived, you may shorten quarantine to 7 days.

Fully vaccinated travelers do not have to quarantine but are still encouraged to get a COVID-19 test between 5 and 10 days after out-of-state travel.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening Plan

Tourism information (Visit Rhode Island)

Traveler Guidance and FAQs, including testing sites for visitors (RI Department of Health)


South Carolina

No travel restrictions for visitors, but anyone who has traveled is advised to stay home as much as possible and to wear a mask in public.

COVID-19 Information Hub

State Parks Information

Traveler Guidance (State government)


South Dakota

No state travel restrictions for visitors, but some tribal lands are closed to anyone without a permit for providing essential or emergency services. See more information about tribal checkpoints here.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening Plan

Cases and Data Dashboard

Tourism information (Travel South Dakota)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

Traveler Guidance (Tennessee Vacation)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Texas’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

Reopening Plan

Travel updates (state government)

Traveler Guidance (Travel Texas)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Utah’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

Utah State Parks Information

Utah National Parks Information

Traveler Guidance (Visit Utah)



Domestic travelers do not have to quarantine, but unvaccinated visitors (including children and Vermont residents) must have a COVID-19 test within 3 days prior to arriving in Vermont (see rules here).

International travelers must follow CDC after-travel guidelines for testing and quarantine.

Visitors to Vermont must follow the same gathering rules as locals. See full details here.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

Traveler requirements and FAQ (Vermont state government)

Traveler Guidance (Vermont Tourism)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data

FAQs about openings, restaurants, and more 

Traveler Information (Virginia Department of Health)

Traveler Guidance (Virginia Tourism)


Washington, D.C.

A negative test (taken within 72 hours of arrival) is required for travelers from jurisdictions with more than 10 cases per 100,000 people.  Any traveler staying in Washington, D.C. for more than 3 days must take another test within 3 to 5 days of arrival.

-Those who are fully vaccinated (and do not have Covid symptoms)
-Those who have tested positive in the last 90 days and do not have symptoms.
-Visitors from Maryland, Virginia, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Guam, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon and the Virgin Islands
-Visitors coming into D.C. for less than 24 hours

COVID-19 Information Hub

Traveler Guidance (Washington D.C. Tourism)

Open/Close Information on Museums, Restaurant, Festivals, and Attractions


Washington State

No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

Reopening Plan

Traveler information (Washington state government)


West Virginia

No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Traveler Guidances (West Virginia Tourism)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but the Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommends residents cancel or postpone travel, even within the state, unless they are fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data

Traveler Guidance (Wisconsin Department of Health Services)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Travel updates (Wyoming Department of Health)

Traveler Guidance (Wyoming Tourism)


Additional Resources

CDC Guidelines for Domestic Travel (CDC)

CDC Guidelines for After International Travel (CDC)

COVID-19 cases by state (CDC)

Covid-19 Travel Recommendations by Country (CDC)

COVID-19 Risk Map for Every U.S. County (Harvard Global Health Institute)

Health departments by state (CDC)

Mask mandates and business restrictions by state (The New York Times)

Mask mandates by state (Pew Trusts)

National Park restrictions by state (National Park Service)

Restaurant restrictions by state (Open Table)

How to Get a Quick Covid Test for Travel (WendyPerrin.com)

The Countries That Have Reopened to U.S. Travelers With No 14-Day Quarantine and What You’ll Find There (WendyPerrin.com)

How to Stay Safe on a Road Trip During Covid (WendyPerrin.com)

Pandemic-Era Travel: The Trip Reviews That Matter Most Right Now (WendyPerrin.com)

We’re here to help

Right now is a remarkable opportunity for global travelers who are vaccinated. When your friends say that travel is problematic as a result of the pandemic—rental cars aren’t available, service even at 5-star hotels is shoddy—the problem is they’re not planning their trips right! Travel can be spectacular now if you choose the right destination, know the savviest local fixers, and approach them the optimal way. Check out these recent trip reviews to see the difference that Wendy’s WOW approach to trip planning makes. And if you’re looking for a similarly carefree travel experience, contact us at Ask Wendy.

Be a safer, smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. And read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip.

Concept of airplane travel to exotic destination with shadow of commercial airplane flying above beautiful tropical beach.

Need to Fly Long-Haul? How to Choose a Safe, Smart Flight During Covid

Travel isn’t just my job; it’s my favorite hobby too. After Covid forced me to cancel three trips this spring and summer, I wondered when I’d get to leave the U.S. again. One of those cancelled trips was a tenth-anniversary getaway to the Maldives, the collection of white-sand atolls dotting crystal-clear turquoise waters in the Arabian Sea. The Maldives reopened to travelers in July.  I knew it’d be easy to socially distance at our private bungalow on the water’s edge. What worried me more were the long flights to get there: about 17 hours from New York, with a layover required somewhere. I recently rescheduled my trip to visit next week; here are the strategies I used that made me comfortable doing so:

Choose a flight where everybody boarding has just had a negative Covid test.

Many destinations that have reopened require travelers to be tested prior to arrival; some won’t even allow passengers to board an incoming flight until they have uploaded their test results or presented them at the airport. When the Maldives first reopened on July 15, they didn’t require pre-trip testing. It was only last month, after the government changed its policy and started requiring visitors to show recent test results on arrival, that I decided I was comfortable enough to go. I chose to fly via Dubai because the United Arab Emirates also requires a pre-travel test—as do most of the other destinations that are currently served by Emirates, are open to U.S. travelers, and don’t have more direct flights from New York. This same strategy is what made reader Jeff Goble comfortable traveling to French Polynesia (which also requires a pre-trip test, as well as a second test four days after arrival).

Choose an aircraft where you can avoid sitting next to a stranger.

My husband and I wanted as much personal space as we could get, but we couldn’t afford to fly business class. Most long-haul jets seat three or more passengers together in economy; while some U.S. airlines are blocking middle seats, foreign carriers haven’t followed suit. Happily, the 777s that Emirates flies on the routes we’ll be taking have a tapered design, so the last few rows have two seats side-by-side. Emirates charges for seat assignments, so I spent $550 to ensure that we wouldn’t be seated beside a stranger—even though I think it’s likely that the flights will be pretty empty. (On the other hand, I might be saving a bit of money by flying Emirates: Through October, they’re giving all passengers free coverage for Covid-related medical bills and quarantine stays.) Read Wendy’s additional tips about where to sit on a plane.

If you can’t fly nonstop, make your layover long enough to have some mask-free time.

I’d have flown nonstop to the Maldives if I could. But since I had to change planes somewhere, I wanted the opportunity to take my mask off after wearing it throughout a 13-hour flight. So that I can do just that, I’ve booked a three-hour stay at a hotel inside the Dubai terminal on the way to the Maldives, and two nights at a desert lodge near Dubai on the way back.

Keep in mind that combining countries on the same trip can make testing requirements even more rigid: In order to comply with the rules of both the Maldives and the United Arab Emirates, I had to find an in-person test with results returned in less than 72 hours. Were I headed just to Dubai, I’d only need an in-person test in a 96-hour window (which is much easier to arrange); if my only destination were the Maldives, I could have used a mail-in Covid test kit that returned results in 72 hours. After several hours of research, and hoping to get tested near where I’d be staying before the trip in upstate New York, I instead found a doctor’s office in Manhattan that returns results in 24 to 48 hours. So I’ll drive an hour into New York City to be tested on a Wednesday morning, receive results by Friday morning, and head to the airport that afternoon for my 11 p.m. flight. (Postscript: Just over a week before my flight, Emirates changed its policy and stopped requiring tests from some passengers transiting through Dubai; unfortunately, it’s too late for us to order a mail-in kit and receive results in time for our flight—and given the changing regulations, I’m still happy to be following the stricter protocols.)

We’re here to help

Right now is a remarkable opportunity for global travelers who are vaccinated. When your friends say that travel is problematic as a result of the pandemic—rental cars aren’t available, service even at 5-star hotels is shoddy—the problem is they’re not planning their trips right! Travel can be spectacular now if you choose the right destination, know the savviest local fixers, and approach them the optimal way. Check out these recent trip reviews to see the difference that Wendy’s WOW approach to trip planning makes. And if you’re looking for a similarly carefree travel experience, contact us at Ask Wendy.

Be a safer, smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. And read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip.

Hotels Adapt to the Covid-19 World with New Cleanliness Campaigns

Hotels around the world are introducing myriad branded campaigns to reassure guests that they’re taking steps to protect them from the coronavirus outbreak. Some are testing out robots as housekeeping staff or creating rooms that clean themselves. Most, though, are doubling down on the basics. From international five-star boutique brands to near-ubiquitous domestic chains, many hotels and resorts are announcing inspiringly-named plans to expand their cleaning procedures and re-evaluate guest interactions.

While opening dates, guest limits, and legal regulations vary by country and state, there are many similarities among these plans, such as more frequent overhauls of public areas, wipes and sanitizer stations throughout properties, sealed plated meals, digital check-ins, and the removal of pens, remotes, and other shared items from rooms. But the most notable commonality is that hotels want them to be highly visible to guests. The hope is that if visitors can see proof of cleanliness—and understand the steps being taken by staff members in that vein—they’ll feel reassured. That’s why most have branded their protocols with a strong-sounding name, partnered with globally respected public-heath advisers, and publicly detailed their plans on their websites.

Below, we’ve compiled many of the safety and sanitization programs introduced by major accommodation brands around the world. As of yet, there is no global certification process for cleanliness; however, some countries have introduced voluntary certification programs, and we’ve listed those too.

It remains to be seen how well any of these plans will actually be carried out at each individual hotel—so please let us know in the comments what you’re finding at these properties if you stay at any of them.


Accor (which includes Banyan Tree, Delano, Fairmont, Orient-Express, Raffles, and Sofitel)

Th Accor group unveiled its newly branded ALLSAFE standard, developed in conjunction with Bureau Veritas (a 200-year-old international company that specializes in testing, inspection, and certification). A detailed description of the ALLSAFE standards are available on Accor’s website; they include measures such as providing guests with sanitizer, wipes, and masks; guest temperature checks; front-desk partitions; contactless check-ins; capacity limits in bars and restaurants when re-opened; and mandatory staff training at each property. Accor has also partnered with AXA insurance to provide telemedicine consultations and access to AXA’s network of medical professionals.

Aman Resorts

Aman has partnered with Diversey (a company that specializes in sanitation and maintenance products and services) to enhance its cleaning procedures based on guidelines from the World Health Organization, as well as from the local authorities at each location of their 37 international properties. The company promises increased staff training and thorough sanitization, although specific protocols may vary from property to property based on a country’s rules and guidelines.


Anantara resorts are one brand in the Minor Hotels company based in Thailand, where the Tourism Authority of Thailand has launched a certification process (see below). These plush properties vow to up their sanitization efforts, social distancing plans, and contactless services (including airport transfers, check-in, dining, and fitness), and are consulting with Ecolab, a U.S.-based water, energy, and hygiene technology services company, on new procedures. In keeping with the culinary experiences and cooking classes that have long been a signature part of the Anantara brand, properties are also focusing on immunity-boosting cuisine.


Avani, like Anantara above, is part of the Minor Hotels group. In addition to digital check-in and check-out, Avani is setting up sanitization processes for luggage and incoming supplies. It’s also looking into sanitization technologies, such as UV sterilization and copper anti-viral coating for keys and other high-touch items, and HEPA-grade air purifiers. After room-turnover cleaning, each room will be sealed for a 24-hour waiting period before the next guest can check in. Avani has also said it will review its third-party partners (transport, tour services, etc.) to make sure they meet the brand’s standards. The number of guests at gyms will be limited and socially distanced, and there will be a mandatory waiting period between groups. As for staff, the procedures vary by country when it comes to frequency of temperature checks; in general, masks are required. In a lighthearted twist, Avani is encouraging its workers to decorate and personalize their masks, an initiative it is calling “Smile Through the Heart.” You can download a PDF of all the new rules in this AvaniSHIELD program here.

Cleaning of Canopy Hilton Hotel, Friday, April 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo by Will Newton

Some hotels, like Hilton will provide post-housekeeping seals on doors and the ability for guests to open their rooms with their own phones. Photo: Will Newton/Hilton

Best Western

Best Western says it has been using UV sterilization wands to clean high-touch items in rooms since 2012, as part of its I Care Clean program. The COVID-19 upgrade to this plan is called We Care Clean. In addition to increasing social distancing in public areas and at check-in, the program outlines specifics such as: Removing unnecessary items like decorative pillows and bed scarves from guest rooms and instituting a waiting period of 24 to 72 hours between guests during which the room (and even its hangers) will be disinfected. Read the full plan from Best Western. Best Western is also one of several hotel brands that has agreed to follow the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s (AHLA) new initiative for best practices in the U.S. hotel industry (see USA, below).

Four Seasons

After repurposing the Four Seasons New York into accommodations for healthcare workers, the brand is implementing changes across its properties via the introduction of its Lead With Care program, with input from Johns Hopkins Medicine International. The details include a hygiene officer at each property, hourly cleaning of public areas, rooms disinfected daily, a-la-carte restaurant service with digital menus, health-focused employee training, and in-room amenities kits with masks, sanitizer, and wipes. The program is overseen by a special COVID-19 Advisory Board, made up of hotel leadership and representatives from Johns Hopkins Medicine International.

Hilton (which includes Conrad, Curio, Embassy Suites, and Waldorf Astoria)

Launching in June, Hilton’s program is called CleanStay with Lysol protection. As the name implies, the effort is in partnership with the makers of Lysol and Dettol (a company called RB). Staff from the Mayo Clinic’s Infection Prevention and Control team will serve as consultants on quality assurance, training, and new approaches. In addition to what’s becoming the standard safety upgrades (e.g. contactless check-in, guest-accessible disinfecting wipes in elevators and other high-traffic spots, more frequent cleaning of public spaces), Hilton will also introduce its CleanStay Room Seal on guest-room doors, to indicate to guests that no one has entered the room since it was cleaned. That cleaning is said to be upgraded too, with a focus on ten high-touch areas for disinfection (remote controls, handles, light switches, etc.) and the removal of amenities such as pens, paper, and guest directories. Hilton is made up of 18 brands, which have a total of more than 6,100 properties.

Hyatt (which includes Andaz and Park Hyatt)

Hyatt’s plan, called the Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment, sees the chain working with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council to earn GBAC Star accreditation. This quality mark—overseen by a branch of ISSA, the cleaning industry’s global association—denotes facilities (hotels, medical facilities, planes and trains, schools, and more) that meet high standards for cleaning, disease prevention, professional training, and public safety. By September 2020, every Hyatt property is supposed to have at least one trained Hygiene Manager onsite to enforce these new protocols, which will include enhanced and more frequent sanitization, hospital-grade cleaning supplies, protective masks worn by staff, and social-distancing guides in public areas.


The Langham Hospitality Group’s list of safety steps includes more frequent disinfecting of public areas (especially elevator buttons, door handles, and handrails) and sanitizer dispensers or bottles added to high-traffic areas. They’ll also be taking temperature readings of all staff before each shift and requiring guests to fill out a form detailing their recent travels. In restaurants and bars, chefs will wear face masks and single-use disposable gloves, tables will be disinfected between diners, and all public surfaces (e.g., door handles, reception desk, credit card machines) will be sterilized every 30 minutes. Spas and fitness centers will implement disinfection every half hour, sterilization of spa equipment after each guest and again overnight, and temperature readings for all spa guests (along with a health declaration form), and there will be no more hot or cold towels handed out.

worker using electrostatic sprayer to clean hotel escalator for coronavirus covid safety

Marriott is one of several hotel brands introducing the use of electrostatic sprayers to disinfect high-touch surfaces. Photo: Marriott

Marriott (which includes Edition, Le Meridien, Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, and Westin)

At its more than 7,300 properties around the world, Marriott says it will be using electrostatic sprayers to disperse CDC- and WHO- recommended disinfectants on high-touch surfaces and public areas, testing UV light technology to sanitize room keys, increasing social distancing by removing or rearranging furniture in lobbies, adding hand-sanitizer stations throughout properties, providing staff with gloves and masks, and offering contactless check-in and room service via guests’ phones. The initiatives will be overseen by the new Marriott Global Cleanliness Council, comprised of hotel staff and various experts, including an infectious disease specialist, a food microbiologist, a food-and-water-safety specialist, and the head of Purdue University’s School of Hospitality & Tourism Management.


After closing its domestic properties in March, MGM Resorts will begin reopening on June 4 with the Bellagio, New York-New York, and MGM Grand and the Signature. The brand’s strategy is simply called the Seven-Point Safety Plan, and it outlines employee temperature checks and health screenings (and self-screening for guests); mandatory masks and PPE for employees and a request that guests wear masks in public spaces (provided free of charge); physical distancing through floor guides, Plexiglas partitions, and signage; heightened cleaning procedures, sanitization of high-touch surfaces, and the addition of hand washing stations; reviews of heating and air conditioning systems to ensure air quality; new response protocols if a guest or staff member is sick (in addition to medical personnel on staff); and digital amenities such as contactless check-in and digital food menus for guests’ personal phones. When it comes to how to keep guests safe in MGM’s casinos, they’ll be asked to limit their drinking and completely avoid eating—in order to minimize the time when they’re not wearing masks. You can read the full details of the plan on the MGM website.

handwashing stations at MGM Resorts hotels for coronavirus safety

MGM Resorts will install hand-washing stations like these mock-ups. Photo: MGM Resorts

Montage International

Montage announced a two-pronged approach to easing any covid-related stress a hotel guest might feel. In terms of housekeeping, they say they’re increasing the frequency of sanitization and deep cleaning for high-touch areas; incorporating electrostatic sprayers and UV wands into that effort; introducing social distancing design in restaurants, bars, lounges, gyms, pool areas, and other public areas; and providing hand sanitizer and facial coverings to all guests. The other prong is virtual medical care: Montage has partnered with One Medical to provide each guest with a 30-day membership to One Medical’s digital health services via video chats, messaging, and an app. (The hotel group’s U.S.-based staff will each receive a year-long membership.)


The “Omni Safe & Clean” initiative follows CDC guidelines and American Hotel & Lodging Association recommendations (see USA, below). Those include contactless services, single-use room amenities, plated and individually sealed foods, public areas (including pools and spas) marked and re-arranged for social distancing, and housekeeping seals placed on rooms after each cleaning. Each of the brand’s properties is also supposed to adhere to local and/or federal mandates as required.


Partnering with Ecolab and Diversey, and following guidance from the CDC, WHO, and local authorities, Rosewood has rolled out its Commitment to Care Global Health and Safety Program. Lobbies, public bathrooms, elevators, and other public spots should see increased cleaning and disinfecting, and air filters and air conditioning systems should get more frequent treatment too. Rosewood is exploring new sanitization technologies such as electrostatic sprayers, foggers, and ultraviolet-UVC light. When legally allowed, guests and staff will have their temperatures screened when they enter the hotel. On the inside, guests will benefit from contactless services (check-in/check-out, in-room dining) and receive amenity kits with face masks, wipes, and sanitizer.


Sandals beach resorts have instituted Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness, an 18-point plan that starts when guests land at the airport: The usual Sandals and Beaches private arrival lounge will now have hand sanitizer and complimentary mask, and the private-vehicle transfer will be stocked with more PPE and sanitized between trips. When they get to the resort, guests will have their temperatures checked (anything 99.5 degrees or less gets you the green light). From there, they will see assurances of cleanliness such as daily replacement of all linens, post-cleaning seals on the doors, and bellmen/butlers who spray disinfectant on both sides of door handles when leaving the room. Bathrooms will be cleaned every half hour, restaurants will have hand sanitizer at entrances, pool chairs will be sanitized daily and separated by six feet or more, and guest temperatures will be checked again before they can use the spa or fitness centers. If anyone is not feeling well, there are medical personnel onsite.


Following recommendations from the CDC, Shangri-La has posted a list of the ways it is approaching COVID-19 safety. Some examples: Each guest’s laundry will be handled in individual packaging, public washrooms are cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectants, guests are asked to fill out health and travel-plan forms, incoming luggage is disinfected, temperature screenings take place at entry points, limos are disinfected between each use, special disinfectant floor mats are placed at entries to clean people’s shoes, and all pools, whirlpool baths, saunas and steam rooms are closed.


Wyndham is one of several hotel brands working with the ALHA (see USA, below) to create and follow best practices for the U.S. hotel industry. Specifically, they have drawn on the expertise of Ecolab, a US-based water, energy, and hygiene technology services company, and the CDC to launch its Count on Us program. This means that all of Wyndham’s 6,000 U.S. properties should be introducing measures such as handing out wipes with room keys at check-in, placing complimentary travel-size hand sanitizer in each room, providing more frequent cleanings, and increasing social distancing in public areas.



In April, the home-sharing service announced it would be launching two tools that hosts can use to safeguard their rentals for guests. Both are optional. One is the Airbnb Cleaning Protocol, a learning and certification process for hosts that recommends enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures. Guests will eventually be able to identify the listings enrolled in this program via a call-out on the website. Hosts who don’t opt into the Cleaning Protocol can use the Booking Buffer, which enables them to block out a 24- to 72-hour waiting period between guests. (The CDC recommends a 24-hour waiting period between guests.)


Similar to Airbnb, the vacation-home-rental service VRBO is trusting its hosts to provide safe environments for their guests. To make that easier, VRBO (which is owned by the Expedia Group) is providing hosts with info on cleaning and disinfecting based on information from the WHO and CDC and created in consultation with the Vacation Rental Management Association (a trade association) and Cristal International Standards (a quality-control company for the hotel industry). Hosts can then showcase their cleaning processes and safety measures on their listings pages (e.g. if they use disinfectant to clean or if check-in and check-out is contactless).


Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism just announced a “safe and clean certification program” for tourism businesses including hotels, malls, and more. The specifics and standards of the process have not yet been released, but hotels will be the first group to undergo certification, followed by other tourism attractions and organizations.


Although Britain isn’t ready for travelers yet (and Prime Minister Johnson recently announced a 14-day quarantine for incoming visitors), its national tourism arm, Visit Britain, has already announced it is developing a quality mark to denote hotels and other tourism sites that adhere to certain COVID-19-related safety standards. What those standards will be has not yet been decided.


The national tourism board of Portugal, Turismo de Portugal, launched a “Clean & Safe” certification for hotels and tourist sites on April 24. To earn the validation, the hotel (or other company) must sign a Declaration of Commitment to certain hygiene and cleaning processes informed by the country’s Directorate-General of Health. Participation is free and optional, and Turismo de Portugal will carry out audits of those who opt in.


The Singaporean government has created the SG Clean certification. Hotels, restaurants, hawker centers, shopping malls, and cruise terminals that adhere to a list of criteria will earn the quality mark, and many already have. You can see a full list of all certified establishments at sgclean.gov.sg.


The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced a certification plan called “Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration: SHA.” To earn the certification, establishments must adhere to COVID-19 safety standards set by the Ministry of Health and other official public-health institutions. The process and criteria are currently being established and will focus on ensuring hygiene and sanitation while also maintaining local culture and interaction between communities and tourists.


The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is the industry trade group for hotels, inns, bed-and-breakfasts, and hotel management companies. Based on input from the CDC, the hotel industry, and experts in medicine, science, and public health, the organization launched the Safe Stay initiative, a set of suggested standards aimed at making U.S. hotels safe for guests. The best practices include enhanced cleaning methods, social-distancing policies, and the use of approved sanitization supplies. Although Stay Safe is a voluntary program for now, you can check the AHLA website to see which hotels are choosing to adopt it. The ALHA’s goal is to change U.S. hotel industry norms and create an official certification process.


This article was originally published May 22.

Be a smarter, safer traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

empty beach and pier at Sandals Montego Bay

Is This Hotel Safe? Smart Things to Ask About Before Making Plans

By this point in the coronavirus lockdown, the thought of getting out of your house for longer than the time it takes to go to the socially distanced supermarket probably sounds like pure heaven. But the prospect of checking into a hotel may not be exactly the Eden you’re dreaming of. The good news is that all over the world, hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals are starting to roll out concrete plans and procedures for making their properties as safe as possible, and we expect these efforts to set a new standard for the industry…eventually.

In the meantime, if you are starting to think about a future trip, whether it’s for this summer or next year, there are questions you’ll want to ask the hotels you’re considering so that you can make an informed decision about how comfortable you’ll feel during a stay. Here are five areas to investigate before making any hotel plans:

Rooms that open to fresh air

When Wendy had to take an essential road trip from New Jersey to Georgia (as detailed in “What a Road Trip During Coronavirus Is Really Like”), she looked for hotels where fresh air could flow freely through the rooms. “Your best bet may be older hotels that have either freestanding cottages or rooms with balconies where you can leave the balcony door open, letting in fresh air throughout the night,” she wrote. “Look in areas where you might find historic inns or sprawling old-fashioned resorts with individual bungalows.”

Contactless guest services

Check-in. Room service. Requests for more towels. During any hotel stay, there are so many points of interaction between guests and staff—so make sure the hotel you’re choosing has options for avoiding or limiting these. Some, like Marriott, are going so far as to enable all of these services via your own phone. Others, like MGM Resorts and Accor hotels, are installing partitions at the front desk.

Masks, gloves, wipes, and sanitizer

Not only should you check if the hotel staff are required to wear masks and gloves (and whether they are provided with that equipment), but also check if these items are available to guests too. Four Seasons is introducing in-room amenities kits with masks, sanitizer and wipes. Wyndham hotels are handing out wipes at check-in with your key and stashing complimentary travel-size hand sanitizers in each room. Still others will make masks available for free when guests ask for them; so find out the policy and whether that equipment is actually in stock before you arrive.

Public areas

You’re likely to see more hand sanitizer and wipe-dispensing stations in hotels’ public areas (MGM Resorts properties are even adding hand-washing stations)—and that’s what you want. It not only shows that the company is making an effort and following established public-health recommendations, but it makes it easy for guests and staff to comply—and that keeps everyone healthier. You’ll also want to find out how your hotel is handling potentially crowded areas, such as the front desk (Are there partitions? Social-distancing signs and marks on the floor?), fitness centers or spas (Are they open? If so, are guests being temperature-checked before entering? What is the disinfecting process between users?), and elevators and public washrooms (How frequently are they being cleaned, and with what materials?). Don’t forget to ask about shared cars that are being set out for airport transfers and other guest chauffeur services. Shangri-La hotels disinfects limos between each use and limits the guests who can share a ride. What is your hotel (or the third-party service they use) doing in that regard?

Guest-room cleaning

Your hotel room will truly become your sanctuary in a group environment like a hotel, so find out how it’s being safeguarded for you. How often will it be cleaned? With what type of materials and technology? Hilton has started using a CleanStay Room Seal on room doors, to reassure guests that no one has entered the room since it was cleaned. In many hotels, the whole cleaning process has been upgraded too, with a focus on sanitizing high-touch areas and items (remote controls, handles, light switches etc.); the removal of amenities like pens, paper, and guest directories; full changes of linens every day; the testing of UV sterilization wands; and possibly even electrostatic sprayers to disperse disinfectant. Ask for details about what your hotel’s cleaning staff will do in your room.

Restaurants and bars

Depending on the country and state, a hotel’s restaurants and bars may or may not be open—so that’s your first question. If they are open, how is the hotel handling food safety? Four Seasons, MGM, and many other hotels now have digital menus accessible from your own phone. If a restaurant is open, it will likely have capacity limits, and you’ll want to ask how that will work and whether they’ve rearranged furniture to keep people apart. Ask about the kitchen staff too: What protective gear are they required to wear, and what new safety procedures have been implemented to keep food safe? We’ve heard of properties offering plated meals in sealed packaging, more packaged to-go options, and expanded room service menus and timing. Keep in mind that not all hotels are closing their buffets and breakfast rooms, and that while they are likely reconfiguring how those communal dining areas work, the decisions will vary by location because of local, state, and country regulations.

Pools and beaches

Pools and beaches are two of the biggest draws for a warm-weather getaway, especially if you’re traveling with kids. And the good news is that the current CDC advice says, “There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water.”

So first things first: Find out if they’re even open, because some hotels are keeping those public areas off limits. If the water areas are open to guests, inquire about the safety precautions being taken. For instance, at Sandals resorts, beach and pool chairs are being placed six feet apart and sanitized every morning, and again after guest changeovers. Will the hotel you’re considering do something similar? Ask them about their plans to handle social distancing, the sanitization of chairs, and interactions with pool/beach attendants. Are they limiting the number of guests who can use pool or beach areas at one time? And if so, how will reservations work for those slots? Keep in mind that access to public beaches, and whether you can actually sunbathe or linger on them, is dictated by state, county, and local directives, so research the latest info on state and locality websites.

Be a smarter, safer traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

red case with red cross photo by peggy marco pixabay

How to Be Prepared for an Emergency When You Travel: Simple Steps

When you prepare for a trip, it’s smart to prepare for an emergency too. The threats of political unrest, natural disasters (hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes), and terrorist attacks—both at home and abroad—are not going away any time soon. But by all means don’t focus so much on highly unlikely, spectacular risks that you ignore the mundane risks that are far more likely to do you harm. For example, when I traveled to London, I optimized my family’s safety not by doing anything so extreme as avoiding the Tube (a target of past terrorist attacks) or abstaining from a cricket match at The Oval (another potential target, what with 24,000 spectators in a stadium), but by making sure that we looked both ways when crossing the street (it’s easy to look in the wrong direction in countries where people drive on the left) and that we used a bathmat in our rental apartment so we would not slip and fall in an unfamiliar shower.

In addition to keeping risks in perspective, here’s what I do to be prepared for emergencies when I travel:

Before Your Trip

1. Enroll in STEP.
Signing up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program makes it easier for the U.S. embassy to send you important information about safety conditions, contact you in an emergency, and help family and friends get in touch with you. Enrolling is easy and quick.

2. Activate your phone for overseas use so that, at a minimum, you can send and receive text messages.
That way you can communicate with others in your traveling party via text message, receive STEP security updates and Twitter Alerts (see #14) via text message, etc.

3. Depending on how remote or risky your destination is, consider carrying a satellite phone or satellite text-messaging device.
In an emergency, you could lose your ability to communicate by cell phone. Internet access could be unavailable as well. Satellite devices do not depend on cell-phone or Internet technology and are much less expensive to rent than they used to be. In countries where satellite phones are illegal—India and China, for instance—you can rent a local mobile phone.

4. Whatever your communication device is, carry extra battery power for it.
If you’re using a smartphone, attach a Mophie or carry a charging block; if you’re using a satellite phone, have an additional battery.

5. Choose a hotel in the right neighborhood, with the right TV news channels and high-speed Internet access.
If you’ve got CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, and fast Wi-Fi, you can easily monitor the news and check local English-language websites for news and help. Pick a hotel that is not located close to a symbolic plaza where protests and traffic jams occur (e.g., Taksim Square in Istanbul, or Tahrir Square in Cairo).

6. Book your trip through the right destination specialist.
This gives you a local fixer, advocate, problem solver. The travel specialists on my WOW List know which areas of their destination are safe and which aren’t, and arrange trips based on the latest on-the-ground intel. They connect you with the savviest drivers and “guides” — more expediters and strategists than traditional tour guides — who have the background and credentials to keep you safe and have access to key people in the country who will take care of you. I know this based not only on personal experience, having traveled under their vigilance, but also based on years of feedback from travelers. For example, when Nepal specialist Toni Neubauer had WendyPerrin.com travelers in Nepal during the 2015 quake, she quickly got them on a flight out of the country. (Read the review of Toni that the travelers, Joe and Rowena Burke, posted on Toni’s reviews page.) At dicey moments, Israel specialist Joe Yudin has kept WendyPerrin.com travelers safe (read Nadika Wignarajan’s review here), Turkey specialist Earl Starkey has as well (read reports from his travelers here). WOW Listers also provide you with the physical tools to stay safe: India specialist Sanjay Saxena, for instance, gives you an in-country mobile phone pre-programmed with numbers for local staff, hotels, emergency services, etc. Of course, his in-country and U.S. staff are available 24/7 as well.

7. Pack certain medicines.
Bring a prescription antibiotic and prescription pain reliever that you know work for you, in case you end up needing to be your own doctor. Bring iodine tablets (or one of the newer technologies) to purify dirty water too, since, in an emergency, bottled water supplies quickly run out.

8. Plot on a paper map where the local embassy, consulate, and best hospitals are.
In an emergency you won’t want to rely on your smartphone or Google Maps app to get you there; you’ll want to save your battery for calls to loved ones, doctors, etc. Know where the best hospitals are—not just for the capital city, which could be hours away from where you are when a crisis strikes, but for other cities too.

9. Purchase an emergency assistance plan.
A MedjetHorizon membership can get you safely out of a crisis situation 24/7 and can also get you out of a foreign hospital and back home to a hospital you know and trust. They can come to the rescue in the event of a terrorist or political threat, violent crime, or if you need a ground ambulance, specialty hospital transfer, or cash advance.

During Your Trip

10. Program your cell phone with emergency numbers.
Remember that 911 does not work for countries outside the USA and Canada. Here’s one list of local emergency numbers, but also ask your hotel concierge for the best numbers for the police, medical emergencies, and someone at your hotel who can help.

11. Carry a mini-flashlight.
You don’t want to get caught in the dark.

12. Carry your hotel’s business card, in the local language.
You can show it to police or taxi drivers to get back to safety quickly.

13. Carry a photocopy of your passport photo page and any visas.

Keep it on your person during the trip, in case the original is back at your hotel (usually the smartest place to keep it) or gets lost in the emergency.

14. Follow relevant Twitter feeds that can provide reliable, accurate updates and potentially life-saving alerts.
Such Twitter feeds will vary by destination and type of emergency. Usually, though, you’ll want to follow the U.S. embassy feed in the country you’re visiting, as well as the U.S. State Department’s feed, @travelgov. The @RedCross and Google’s Crisis Response Team, @GoogleCR, are also worth following, as are the local airport’s feed, which may post updates about airport delays and shutdowns, and the feeds of local hotels, which usually have an emergency action plan and may be offering help or a landline. You can also turn on Twitter Alerts for the feeds relevant to the destination you’re headed to.

15. Know that Google has a person finder and Facebook has a Safety Check feature.
In natural and humanitarian disasters, Google helps track missing persons. When a crisis occurs, Facebook activates its Safety Check feature: If you’re in an affected area, use it to alert friends and family that you’re okay; if you’re at home, you can use it to search for travelers and confirm their status.

If You Have a Trip Booked to an Area Perceived as Risky

* Don’t overreact: Realize that the geographic area affected is limited.

So often, when a crisis strikes a country, U.S. travelers unnecessarily cancel trips to a huge swath of the world surrounding that country. They avoid regions that have not been affected in the least—which would be like Europeans deciding against a trip to New York because there was an earthquake in San Francisco or a terror attack in Orlando. The Italy earthquake was no reason to cancel a trip to Tuscany, the same way the Nice attack was no reason to cancel a trip to the Dordogne.

* Don’t confuse the probability of an incident with the probability of becoming the victim of that incident.
Is it virtually certain that there will be another terrorist attack in Europe this year?  Yes.  Does that translate into a high degree of risk for the individual traveler to Europe?  No.

* Understand the psychological reasons why your fear of a terrorist attack is out of proportion to the risk—and why you fear a terrorist attack more than an earthquake.
I explain it in my article 7 Keys to Traveling Without Fear Despite Terrorist Attacks.

* Know where the real dangers lie.
Remember that the single biggest cause of death for Americans traveling overseas is motor vehicle accidents.


Be a smarter traveler: Follow Wendy Perrin on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

The truth about Travel Warnings

Watch: This Is How to Interpret Travel Warnings

One of the biggest mistakes I see travelers make, over and over, is to unnecessarily cancel a trip or rule out a country because they’ve misconstrued a U.S. State Department travel advisory. A Travel Alert does not mean don’t go. And sometimes that’s true for Travel Warnings too. Right now there are Travel Warnings for 45 countries, ranging from war zones that should be avoided (e.g., Syria) to places that millions of people travel to safely every year for blissful relaxation (e.g., Mexico).

Last week, the U.S. State Department updated its Travel Warning for Mexico. According to State Department officials, this was a routine update. Still, the info that crime has increased in 2017 in areas including the states of Quintana Roo (where Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen are) and Baja California Sur (where Los Cabos is) is making the travel news rounds.

The reality is that most of the conflicts have been between rival criminal organizations and have not involved travelers. The Travel Warning acknowledges this, stating: “There is no evidence that criminal organizations have targeted U.S. citizens based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the level of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes.”

At Journey Mexico, the trip-planning company run by Zach Rabinor, the Trusted Travel Expert for Mexico on my WOW List, the staff has offered an in-depth explanation based on their first-hand, on-the-ground experience. They write, “It is important to note that, again, these conflicts and any related violence have not and are not targeting holiday travelers.  There has been no violence against tourists within hotels or resorts or traveling to or from any of the main tourist attractions in the area.” They also remind travelers that “Many areas of Mexico, such as the popular state of Yucatan and city of Merida, and throughout the Central Highlands in destinations such as San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City, have no travel warnings at all.”

Yes, you should be careful, but you should also keep these warnings in perspective.

Most countries are a lot like the one where you live: safer in some parts, unsafe in others. Just because Mexico has dangerous parts (e.g., border areas), it doesn’t mean you should avoid others that are hundreds of miles away. I took my own staff to Playa del Carmen in January of this year to host a summit with my WOW List travel specialists from all over the world, and we all felt safe the entire time. Would you avoid Beverly Hills because of terrorist shootings in San Bernardino (which is only an hour away)?

This video will help you quickly understand and act upon travel advisories. I shot it last year when I was in another country for which there is a Travel Warning but which tens of thousands of tourists visit safely each year. Can you guess where? Here’s a clue:

Wendy and a new friend in Cartagena, Colombia, last month.

Wendy and a new friend.

Transparency disclosure: Our sponsor, MedjetAssist, provided the financial support that made it possible to bring you these travel tips.

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Signage about the electronics ban at the Air Maroc check-in desk

How You Can Prepare for the Laptop Travel Ban

UPDATED 5/14/2017:

Very soon, the Department of Homeland Security is expected to expand the laptop ban to include flights coming into the U.S. from Europe. Less than two months after the first ban required that fliers arriving from several Middle East countries pack their laptops, tablets, game consoles, digital cameras, and other devices in their checked lugged, there’s now news that planes arriving from the European Union will be subject to similar rules. As Skift pointed out, this extension “would affect trans-Atlantic routes that carry as many as 65 million people a year on over 400 daily flights”—and we know that includes many of our own readers, who are planning trips to Europe right now.

Unfortunately, any ban on carrying laptops and tablets into the passenger cabin impacts not only business travelers like me, whose work productivity will be affected, but also professional photographers like my husband; families with children who use tablets, game devices, or laptops as part of their long-haul-flight toolkit; and countless other fliers who rely on their tech devices in various ways.

Apart from being inconvenient, the current ban—which affects flights from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey—is confusing, and a lot has been left undefined.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s wording is that nothing “larger than a smartphone” can be carried onboard, but the agency is vague about what that exact size is. A FAQ on its website says, “Smartphones are commonly available around the world and their size is well understood by most passengers who fly internationally. Please check with your airline if you are not sure whether your smartphone is impacted.”

So far, it seems that the ban is being implemented inconsistently in foreign airports. When my husband flew home from Morocco with our two boys, one son’s Nintendo DS game console was confiscate out of his backpack, while the other son got to keep his. As expected, though, in the weeks after the first ban was implemented, a few of the affected airlines started to test out solutions: Qatar is providing complimentary laptops to premium-class passengers, Emirates introduced a laptop-handling service, and Etihad is offering free Wi-Fi (which you can access with your phone).

So in the interest of helping all travelers prepare (not just those flying from airports or on airlines listed in the original ban, and not just those planning trips to Europe), we’ll keep updating this FAQ as we learn more about how airlines and airports will be handling the changes. In the meantime, here are some answers and solutions.

What devices have to be checked now?

While it’s safe to expect that laptops, tablets, game units, and digital cameras must be packed in checked luggage, it seems that you could easily be at the whim of an individual security officer or your airline’s interpretation of what devices are acceptable for carry-on. The DHS FAQ says only: “Generally, passengers will be instructed to place large electronic devices in their checked bags when traveling from one of the last point of departure airports. We provided guidance to the airlines who will determine how to implement and inform their passengers.” How the airlines are choosing to implement and inform is inconsistent. “The manner of a Security Directive/Emergency Amendment is to tell an airline the end result required (no electronic devices larger than a cell phone allowed in the cabin) and allow them the flexibility to implement within their business model.”

What airports does the ban affect?

If you are flying through or from any of the following airports, the current ban applies to you: Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), Cairo International Airport (CAI), Ataturk International Airport (IST), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED), King Khalid International Airport (RUH), Kuwait International Airport (KWI), Mohammed V Airport (CMN), Hamad International Airport (DOH), Dubai International Airport (DXB), and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). The specifics of a European-flight ban are still being worked out.

Am I exempt if I’m part of a trusted traveler program?

No. Membership in Global Entry, TSA Precheck, Clear, or any trusted traveler program does not exempt you from the ban. You still have to comply with the new luggage rules.

Related: The Real Things You Should Be Wary Of When Traveling Abroad (Hint: It’s Not Terrorism)

What can I do to prepare for the inconveniences of the ban?

•Turn your smartphone into a laptop.
Most of us think of portable keyboards as accessories for tablets, but they can be used with smartphones too. The screen may be smaller than you’d like, but at least it’ll let you get through some emails while you’re in the air. (If you’re accustomed to using more than one electronic device in-flight, you might consider getting a second phone. After all, airlines are not limiting the number of smartphones you can bring onboard. You could use one phone as a tablet or computer while you’re listening to music on the other. Get a cheap burner phone that you need not activate with a mobile carrier; you can just use it with Wi-Fi.)

•Read offline.
E-readers are part of the ban, so if that leaves you without something to peruse on the plane, you still have options. Add the Kindle app to your phone and do your reading there; the app will maintain your library, with bookmarks and notes, across all your devices. If you’re a periodicals reader, check out an app such as Instapaper, which lets you save any article or video from the web and read it later offline. And of course, you could always go back to old-school books. Now that there aren’t any tech devices in your carry-on, you may have room for the latest bestsellers.

•Travel with an inexpensive “travel laptop.”
If you’re like me, you cannot possibly travel without your laptop, and you’re loath to check it. After all, even with TSA locks, most checked luggage is easy to open and subject to sticky fingers. That’s why I plan to buy a cheap laptop for trips on which my flights will be affected. I’ll probably buy a ChromeBook, which costs as little as $165. I’ll copy the files I need from my “real laptop” onto USB drives and carry these in my carry-on, and I’ll relegate the ChromeBook to my checked bag when necessary, leaving my “real laptop” safely at home. Should the ChromeBook get lost or stolen, it won’t be a big deal.

Related: A Pro Photographer’s Solutions to the Airline Electronics Ban

•Insure your checked luggage.
If you’re willing to entrust your laptop to your checked luggage, know that airlines reimburse very little if your baggage is lost, stolen, or damaged; and they don’t cover valuables (such as laptops) in checked luggage. A few credit cards do provide loss and damage coverage for valuables in checked bags. The American Express Platinum Card provides up to $2,000 for checked-bag losses, although it caps electronics at $250. Travel insurance company TravelGuard reimburses up to $500 for electronic devices in lost luggage.

Related: How to Buy Travel Insurance: What It Covers, When You Need It

•Take the time to install anti-theft software and features on your devices.
In case you’re forced to check your laptop, install or activate theft-protection apps on it. Apps such as Prey or Find My Mac allow you not only to track where your laptop is, but also to lock it and erase it completely—and, depending on the software, even enable you to take a photo of the thief.

For an additional bit of tracking service, consider attaching a Tile to your various devices. These little squares use Bluetooth to keep tabs on keys, wallets, anything you can think of; use a Tile (or your phone) to set off a sounding beacon on your lost item. This isn’t so helpful if your laptop, camera, or game unit is thousands of miles away, but the app has a cool secondary feature: Activate the “Notify when found” option, and if anyone who has a Tile comes within range of your tiled item, you’ll get a notification of its location.

Stay tuned because we expect to see a burgeoning industry of travel-specific anti-theft gadgets to fill this heightened need. For example, the new PetaPixel is a remote shutter button for digital cameras that comes with the added bonus of geotagging for theft protection.

•Choose your airlines carefully.
Some of the impacted airlines are innovating to make life easier for premium-class passengers. Qatar Airways has begun offering first- and business-class passengers a complimentary laptop loan service; passengers can download their work onto a USB before stepping onboard and collecting their loaner laptop. Etihad Airways is lending premium-class passengers iPads and free Wi-Fi. Some airlines are offering a service at its gates where they say they will collect and securely pack passengers’ electronic items, for pick-up at the destination airport.


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.


This article was originally published April 3, 2017. It has been updated with new information.

northern lights photographed from airplane

A Pro Photographer’s Solutions to the Airline Electronics Ban

Travel bans of any kind never come at a good time. But this latest one is coming at a particularly bad time for me. As a photojournalist, it’s my very job description to carry my cameras with me. Sure, iPhone cameras are fine for snapshots, but I make my living using professional-grade cameras that I am now forced to place in checked luggage if I’m flying to the U.S. or U.K. from certain airports. So this ban is going to hurt. I have an assignment in Morocco next week and another in Dubai this summer, and I’ll be flying through and from airports that are on the new watch list.

I always arrive at the security gate well before scheduled departure so that my gear can be scrutinized. In fact, I fly with so much gear, electronics, and cords that I get very suspicious if the security agency doesn’t check my bag with a fine-tooth comb. But this ban will seriously change how I work.

My biggest complaint with the ban is the vagaries of it. Okay, I understand laptops won’t be allowed, or iPads, or my kids’ DS. But what about battery chargers or the cell-phone-sized hard drives I use to back up all the photos I shoot on assignment? What are you supposed to do with a key piece of equipment you thought was okay to carry onboard when a security guard says you can’t take that onboard because…well…he says so. Your checked bags are already down the chute. Now what?

My other concern is theft. You might as well put a “Steal Me” sticker on the outside of a bag with your camera in it. Security staff and luggage handlers X-ray bags well out of sight from the public, so the theft rate could increase exponentially. I remember going through Heathrow years ago when a similar ban was in effect. I had placed my underwater video camera in a checked bag (because my carry-on was already maxed out with other— more important—equipment), and they brought it to the gate where I was waiting, and I had to show the security agents what it was and prove that it was operational. That was the last time I saw it. Those little TSA-approved travel locks? Sure. Why not? But they and your ballistic-material luggage can be breached in mere seconds. Or just stolen completely, little locks and all.

So what am I going to do about it?

I live in fear of a camera getting lost or stolen on a trip, but now I will be changing how I work.

•For starters, I will leave my top-of-the-line camera bodies (the part of the camera minus the lens) at home. Instead, I will use cameras that are a few years or models old. Though not the latest and greatest, they are still usable and more expendable than my best—which I will need back at home.

•I will never put more than one camera body into each piece of checked luggage. That will give me a better chance of arriving at my destination with at least one of them.

•I will carry more media cards on which to store the photos I shoot. Let me explain: Until now I’ve always carried my laptop on my trips, downloaded each day’s photos to it each night, and backed them up on a portable hard drive (if not two). This is so as not to lose the images I’ve shot during the trip. The system allowed me to reuse media cards once I’d transferred the images to my laptop. Since I’ll now be leaving the laptop at home (since I won’t entrust my laptop to checked baggage), I’ll buy more media cards on which to store my photos. I’ll simply save the photos on the cards and wait till I’m home to download them to my laptop. SD cards are actually cheap enough now to do this, but keep in mind that they are small, notoriously slippery, and easy to lose!

•On some trips I might bring an older laptop (from which I’ve erased my personal data) to use as storage and for transferring photos to a portable, cell-phone-size hard drive. Will I be allowed to carry the hard drive into airline cabins? I don’t know.

•I will probably invest in a product such as Western Digital’s My Passport Wireless Pro. You can plug your SD cards right into it (its USB slot handles other format card readers) and copy photos or data right to a 2 or 3 TB drive.

•If you place your cameras in checked baggage, make sure to remove the media cards from the cameras. My video camera was stolen at Heathrow, but at least I had the sense to take the tape out and hand-carry it.

You will also have to remove the batteries from your camera, as most cameras use lithium batteries. However, the FAA specifically says that lithium batteries can’t be in checked bags, so we’ll just have to wait and see how that catch-22 gets solved.

•So what about chargers? I’m going to have to carry extra spare batteries in addition to what I carry now, in case my battery chargers are banned from carry-on luggage and get stolen. I’ll get a second charger too—so I can put each into two separate checked bags, again hoping that both of my bags won’t be taken or violated.

•With the camera bodies in the belly of the plane, that will leave more room in my carry-on for lenses. But this worries me too. A security agent once probed his finger into my telephoto lens and not only made it unusable but did several hundred dollars’ worth of damage to it.

On a personal level, one of my favorite things to do is to take photos while I’m flying. That’s gone now. I will miss shooting sights from a 33,000+-foot vantage point.

I’ve lived with previous bans and increases in airport security since the days of D.B. Cooper and almost daily hijackings to Cuba. And I’ve dealt with higher-speed films being ruined by third-world x-ray machines. So this ban is nothing new. I just wish it weren’t so vague. I’m looking forward to hard-and-fast rules.

Stay tuned.


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Wendy making friends at the ancient Phoenician city of Baalbek in Lebanon

The Real Things You Should Be Wary Of When Traveling Abroad (Hint: It’s Not Terrorism)

Don’t spend so much time focusing on avoiding risks that are highly unlikely—such as a terror attack—that you neglect to take sufficient steps to avoid those risks that are far more likely to ruin a trip abroad—such as a traffic accident, theft, or food poisoning. The following do’s and don’ts that I shared with U.S. News & World Report will take care of most potential problems. A reliable (and reachable) travel planner will take care of the rest.

Drive carefully on your way to the airport.
Renting a car? Remember that motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of death of Americans overseas.

traffic on a street

Traffic rules are different in other countries, and car accidents kill more tourists than terrorist attacks. Be careful crossing the street. Photo: Timothy Baker

Look both ways before crossing the street.
Motor vehicle “rules” in many countries are not what you’re used to back home.

Leave valuables at home.
Most of us have learned to leave fancy jewelry at home, but we now bring all manner of fancy electronics.  Consider leaving your larger and more expensive electronics at home.  Whatever devices you do pack, be sure that the information in them is password-protected and that you have a copy of that information somewhere safe.

Use your in-room safe.
Store your passport in it. Leave the Do Not Disturb sign on your hotel room door when you’re not in the room.

Use trustworthy Wi-Fi.
I carry my own portable Wi-Fi hotspot rather than logging into free Wi-Fi on the street.

Watch out for scam artists.
In big cities, pickpockets may prey on tourists, especially in crowded transportation hubs. Clothing with internal zippered pockets, or a neck pouch, are a good way to keep cash and credit cards safe as you walk around and sightsee. If you’ll be carrying a handbag, use a cross-body one. A few examples of scam artists:

I was walking in Buenos Aires once—in a good neighborhood, in broad daylight—when suddenly some inky, foul-smelling liquid landed on me and my husband.  Two young women sympathetically showed us an outdoor faucet where we could clean it off.  Suspicious, we opted to remain a mess and started to walk away—at which point the duo offered Kleenex.  They seemed a little too eager to help, so we quickly left the area. Back at our hotel, the concierge immediately guessed which street corner we’d been standing on and confirmed that we had nearly fallen for a common con: Had we put down our bags to clean up, they would have made off with them.

Other traditional scams in certain countries include the handbag snatch (you’re sitting at an outdoor café, you place your handbag on the ground or hang it on your chair, and somebody grabs it and runs off), the fake street fight (boys pretend to beat each other up, one approaches you in tears, pleading for money so he can get home to safety, you pull out your wallet and the kids grab it and race off), the crowded subway car (a group of women and children waltz into your subway car in a distracting whirl of colorful scarves and skirts, remove your wallet from inside your pocket, and exit before the doors close), and even the baby toss (a woman tries to hurriedly hand you an infant—some actually toss you a doll, in hopes that you will instantly drop your bags to catch it. An accomplice then swipes your belongings).

Dress smart.
I wear jackets with internal zippered pockets that nobody else’s hands can reach.  Rather than keeping my wallet in a handbag that could be stolen, I keep small bills and credit cards in various pockets, so that I never have to take out my whole wallet. If you must carry your wallet in your outside pants pocket, wrapping rubber bands around it makes it more difficult for a pickpocket to extract it. Don’t wear brand new white sneakers. They’re a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist.

Don’t pull out a map and scrutinize it in a public place.
Step inside a restaurant or shop if you want to check your map.

Think before you photograph someone.
Don’t photograph policemen or anyone who does not want his/her photo taken. Here are some more tips on photo etiquette when you travel.

Program local emergency numbers into your cell phone.
I ask my hotel concierge for those numbers.

Carry your hotel’s business card in the local language.
Have at least one of these so you can show it to non-English-speaking locals (e.g., a taxi driver) and get back to your hotel quickly in an emergency.

Carry a mini-flashlight (so you’re never caught in the dark).
I once made the mistake of not packing one and learned my lesson the hard way. You can read all about my best travel mistake here.


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

wendy perrin playing music in Jordan

Traveling in an Uncertain World: Essential Tips for Smart Travelers

Some Americans tell me they’re nervous about traveling right now. Given the recent ban blocking travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries, and whatever unpredictable new rules might suddenly get implemented tomorrow, they’re worried that if they leave the U.S., they could have trouble getting back in. Some people are concerned about possible hassles with immigration officials in foreign airports. And, given the new administration’s “America First” attitude, some people fear anti-American sentiment at their destination.

I don’t.  That’s because I’ve traveled in many countries at times when the U.S. government was disliked—and, time after time, I’ve found that, as long as you don’t behave like an “ugly American,” people don’t judge you based on your government. That’s because they don’t want you to judge them based on their government. Many people are accustomed to living under a regime that curtails their freedom and the press. If you’re sensitive and sympathetic, and as intrigued by them as they are by you, what you get is not hostility but a bonding experience.

Even in the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War, I never encountered any hostility from the locals I met. In fact, I always got a warm welcome because people were so intrigued and curious to talk to an American. In the Middle East, I’ve always found people to be astonishingly friendly, warm, and hospitable. As just one example, I remember a policeman in Damascus, Syria, approaching me with a look of concern and an outreached arm, only to pick up my suitcase like a true gentleman and carry it across the street for me.

It’s my firm belief that, right now, travel is more important than ever. That’s not just because travel is fatal to ignorance about other cultures and peoples. It’s because we frequent travelers can help rectify misperceptions that the world may have right now about the United States. It’s important that other countries see that Americans are open to different cultures. It’s important that they meet Americans who don’t necessarily subscribe to the motto “America First” but are, instead, global citizens first.

Here are a few things travelers can do to convey this message and avoid the “ugly American” stereotype. These are easy ways to blend in, avoid offense, bond with locals, and stay safe. These rules of etiquette have long been the case; they’re not new to this or any presidential administration.

Avoid logos and labels.
Don’t wear T-shirts, hats, or anything with words or symbols on them. Don’t wave a U.S. flag. Don’t wear religious jewelry (no Christian cross or Star of David.) Don’t wear a red baseball cap that says “USA” or “Make America Great Again.”

Wear simple, plain, neutral clothing.
Forgo bold colors in favor of earth tones. Wear old black or brown shoes, not shiny new white sneakers (they scream “tourist”). Instead of shopping for new clothes before a trip, leave space in your suitcase to buy clothes once you arrive. That way, you gain the experience of shopping like a local, you blend in, and you come away with great souvenirs.

Speak softly and respectfully.
“Ugly Americans” speak loudly and draw attention to themselves. Remember that, when you travel, you’re like a guest in someone else’s house. Speak to the people of your host country with respect.

Steer clear of crowds.
This is not just for your safety but because crowds usually make both travelers and locals cranky, and crowds in different countries have different etiquette. Bypass political demonstrations and rallies. When practical, avoid rush hour on public transportation. Go against the normal flow of tourist traffic.

If there’s someone you’d like to photograph, establish a rapport first.
Here’s Photo Etiquette: How to Take Pictures of People When You Travel. Remember that it’s often against the law to photograph government buildings, military installations, policemen, guards, and parts of airports and train stations.

Know the country’s rules and customs.
Here are 25 Fascinating Rules of Etiquette From Around the World.

Ask questions that show that you care and can relate.
Good conversation topics—to ask locals you meet—include: How has technology changed your life? (Has it made it better? How has it impacted your work and your family? Do you feel more connected to the world at large?)   What are your biggest stresses and challenges? (The cost of medical care? housing? schooling?) What happens when there’s a new baby in the family? If the mother works, how is this dealt with in the workplace? (Different cultures have very different maternity customs and laws.) How do you care for the oldest members of your family? (Many countries worldwide have more and more elderly people and not enough young people to care for them.) If you were to plan a trip to America, where would you go? What are the things you would most like to see?  Such questions will establish similarities, as well as interesting differences, between your life and that of the people you meet.

Hire a stellar local guide.
A private English-speaking guide, arranged via your hotel concierge or a reputable tour company, can keep you out of trouble and introduce you to receptive local people. Remember, it’s in a guide’s best interest to keep you safe and happy. When a trip is arranged by one of my Trusted Travel Experts, you automatically tap into a network of guides and insiders at your destination who will watch out for you and can arrange for you to exchange ideas with the right local people without fear. These TTEs have their ears to the ground and know how to keep you safe and solve any problem that arises.

Get a new passport if that will give you peace of mind.
If your current passport has a stamp from Iran or another country that’s named in a ban, consider getting a new one, to avoid potential hassles coming and going.

Stay calm and relaxed, knowing you have a safety net.
Being on edge won’t win you any friends. A MedjetAssist Horizon membership can take the edge off because it provides help in an emergency, should a crisis—a political threat, a terrorist attack, violent crime, or the like—strike. It gives you access to a 24/7 Crisis Response Center, a veteran security expert to advise you, and response services to come to the rescue if necessary. Even if no major security incident has been declared yet and you’re just feeling uncomfortable and want to get out of a place, MedjetAssist will help. Full disclosure: Medjet is a sponsor of this site—but they’re a sponsor specifically because I believe in and use their service. Here are 15 other simple steps you can take to be prepared for an emergency when you travel.

Do you have tips to add?  Share your thoughts below.

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Wendy making friends at the ancient Phoenician city of Baalbek in Lebanon

Why Xenophobia Makes Me Want to Travel More

Did you see that Dictionary.com named “xenophobia” its 2016 Word of the Year?  Defined as “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers,” xenophobia has been resonating deeply in the cultural consciousness lately.

How sad. As you can imagine, I’m a strong believer in the enlightenment that comes from traveling to foreign countries, meeting different peoples, and learning first-hand about their culture. I also believe xenophobia can be more harmful than the people it makes you afraid of. There’s danger in not leaving your comfort zone. To quote Paulo Coelho, “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine—it’s lethal.” And you can argue that certain risks are greater where we live: I’m more afraid of people wielding guns at home than in the places I travel to (the U.S. has more guns per capita than any other nation).

So this Word-of-the-Year news had me down…until I realized there’s a silver lining:  If xenophobia actually leads to a wider reluctance to travel, it will be the stereotypical “ugly Americans” who stay home. And that’s not so bad for us diehard travelers. It’s always been my experience that the fewer tourists in a destination, the more welcoming the locals are, the easier it is to talk to them, and the more goodwill they show you. I’m more than happy to travel without running into crowds of Americans in fanny packs and shiny white sneakers. I’m thrilled to have iconic sights to myself and not have my photos marred by busloads of cruisegoers from megaships. And the fewer Americans filling flights and hotels, the better the deals for the rest of us.

When I’m in remote locales, I don’t want to hear Americans saying how much better something is at home. I don’t want to hear, “I had to haggle with a guy to buy this” (do the math, and you’ll see that you were bargaining in increments less than a dollar). I don’t want to hear complaints that there’s not enough ice or air conditioning or whatever drink you’re used to at home. I remember once when I was in Egypt—on the terrace of the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan overlooking the Nile—my husband ordered a Coke and I ordered a Diet Coke. The waiter brought a 16-ounce Coke for my husband and an 8-ounce Coke for me. It took us a minute to understand the logic, but we’ve been laughing about it ever since. That was a beautiful travel moment.

So, my dear xenophobes, if you prefer to stay in your bubble, I’m more than happy to do your traveling for you and serve as an ambassador for our country. I’m happy to drink tea in a bedouin tent while my children play soccer with the local kids. I’m happy to travel to rural Asia armed with pencils and postcards from home. Give a child a postcard of the place where you live and, before you know it, his mom is inviting you inside the place where they live—no fear of strangers involved.

The number of truly different places to travel to in this world is shrinking. The influences of global commerce, Hollywood, and the Internet are quickly making foreign countries more similar to ours than some of us want to admit. That’s why I think it’s important to see these places soon. I’m thrilled that countries still exist where we can say—to quote John Cleese as he sat behind his Monty Python news anchor desk—“And now for something completely different.”

So that’s how I came to terms with xenophobia. Now I just need to get past “post-truth.” That’s another 2016 Word of the Year—the one chosen by Oxford English Dictionaries.  I’m a journalist who has always stood for truth (first as a columnist at Condé Nast Traveler, where “Truth in Travel” was our credo, and now at WendyPerrin.com, where I continue that mantra). So imagine how concerned I am that murky facts and fake news have grown so prevalent that a word had to be invented to describe them.  We may be living in a post-truth era, but I, for one, feel more obligated than ever to share accurate portrayals of the world we travel in and bring truth home to our fellow citizens. How about you?


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

dancing in Turkey

Why I Think Travel Is So Important Now

Since the U.S. presidential election, there’s been a lot of talk about how certain groups of voters—from the “liberal elite” on the coasts to folks in the rural heartland to the tech establishment in Silicon Valley to the media that covered the election to anyone who gets their news solely from Facebook—are living in a bubble.

But isn’t it true that everyone’s always lived in a bubble? That’s the reason why we travel—to get outside the bubbles we were born and raised in or currently inhabit, see how other people live and think, and broaden our worldview. Whatever your political leanings, I think this election reinforced how important it is to experience new places (especially within our own country), connect with people who aren’t like us, listen to different perspectives, and find common ground. As Mark Twain put it, “Travel is fatal to prejudice.”

With America’s role on the international stage unclear, though, some people are wondering how they will be treated when they go abroad now. As someone who has traveled in a number of risky countries at times when U.S. government policies were not in favor, I’m here to tell you that, in my experience, as long as you don’t behave like an “ugly American,” people don’t judge you based on your government. That’s because they don’t want you to judge them based on their government.

I can also tell you that, in countries that depend on tourist dollars and don’t see lots of U.S. travelers, people are particularly nice to Americans because, simply put, the American visitors who do travel there spend more money and tip better than other tourists.

When I went to Istanbul during the build-up to the Iraq War—a period when people were worried about anti-American sentiment and experts were advising not to fly on U.S. airlines or stay in Western hotels—everyone I met, from waiters to carpet merchants, told me that while they might disagree with U.S. policies, they love American travelers since they are more interested in learning about Turkish culture than other tourists who go straight to the seaside on cheap package holidays.

Later, during the Iraq War, I found myself in Kurdistan in southeastern Turkey and, again, nobody I met equated me with the foreign policy of the nation I live in. I was treated as a fellow human being first.

The same happened when I traveled in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. In fact, I’ve found people in the Middle East to be among the most welcoming and friendly people I’ve met anywhere in the world. As Aldous Huxley said, “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”

It’s a good thing I saw the sites of Syria when I did; today it’s off-limits, as a result of a brutal and tragic war. Lord only knows what the ancient city of Palmyra looks like now. I’m always telling people: Go while you can.

That’s why I’m taking the family to Sri Lanka this winter. Yesterday I asked my husband, Tim, if he’s having any second thoughts about that. “I was in Nicaragua during a war when Reagan was in power,” he replied. “After that, anything’s easy.”

People overseas are already wondering how they will be treated if they travel to the United States in this new era. We’re already seeing foreign governments issuing warnings to their U.S.-bound citizens to exercise greater vigilance. Will State Department travel warnings for outbound travelers change? It will be interesting to see.

In the meantime, here’s how to interpret travel warnings. And, if you’re concerned about safety in a foreign country that’s perceived as risky, here are steps you can take.


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.