Ready to travel the world? It can be complicated

Posted May 3, 2021 6:15 p.m. EDT

After a year of rolling lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, countries are slowly opening their doors to travelers from the United States. Are you ready to take an international trip?

Many people see getting a vaccine as a ticket to travel. But travel experts just back from recent international trips told 5 On Your Side’s Monica Laliberte that it is not that easy. Before you book, take a deep dive into details.

"Traveling right now is kind of a different experience, if you’re ready to go," said Jeanne Polocheck.

She’s a travel agent and tourist, just back from an adventure in Kenya.

"You need to know before you go as to what the destination expects of you as a traveler, in terms of the pre-COVID testing that’s required. Or are you going to have to quarantine on arrival? And what type of tests do you have to take?" said Polocheck.

Requirements and restrictions vary by country.

For example:

  • Immunized travelers to Bermuda must pay $75, be tested on arrival, quarantine while awaiting results, then test again on days four, eight and 14 of any visit.
  • The British Virgin Islands require a $175 fee, a negative COVID test plus a four-day quarantine.
  • To go to Turks and Caicos, you must have health insurance to cover Covid-19 illnesses.
  • Puerto Rico just started $300 fines if you arrive without a negative COVID test.
  • Mexico and Costa Rica have no COVID testing requirements to enter.
  • And everyone ages two or older flying to the U.S. must have a negative test taken within three days of the flight. That includes vaccinated U.S. citizens.

Polocheck told us about a travel agency client who learned she could not board a commercial flight after a positive test.

"The kids and the husband tested negative, but the wife tested positive. And so she had to stay in Turks and Caicos at the hotel property until she could produce a negative test," said Polocheck. "And you have to quarantine at the hotel. So you may be in the hotel, but you’re not going to be able to go down to the pool or down to the beach, because they don’t want you outside of your room."

Ellen Dalbo is just back from the Dominican Republic.

"It really was an amazing experience," she said.

Her biggest surprise while traveling was the airport.

"That was the only place I felt a little like, 'Whoa. We need to back off, stay away from each other,'" said Dalbo.

At the resort, she was impressed with rooms sealed after cleaning, as well as provided wipes, sanitizer and masks.

Covid-safe travel amenities

"They even handed out masks when you walked up to the bar to get a drink, or if you were sitting there without a mask, they would bring one over to you," she said.

Dalbo also saw how serious the island and many other countries are about COVID-19 violations.

She described what happened at a nearby public beach that had gotten crowded.

"I found out that someone had called the government and reported a COVID violation," said Dalbo. "So the government had come in with trucks and arrested people for being, you know, being maskless and closer than six feet apart."

On Polocheck’s trip to Kenya, along with constant hand washing, suitcases were sanitized.

And while both were able to move around, some countries, while open to Americans, are still under lockdown and curfew.

That’s why Polocheck and Dalbo both recommend travelers constantly research their trip and its requirements, because COVID rules change daily!

"The devil is in the details right now when you travel," said Polocheck.

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