Tips for Managing Travel Plans During the Pandemic
The arrival of the Omicron COVID-19 variant is a sobering reminder that as far as we've come since the start of the pandemic, we still have a way to go. However, vaccinations and other preventative measures have returned some normalcy to travel, including cross-country and international flights. Whether you're preparing to visit family for the holidays or wrapping up some business before the end of the year, these tips will help to minimize frustrations and expenses.
- Check the latest travel recommendations and mandates.
Travelling by car is still your safest and, potentially, simplest option. If you're planning to cross state lines, check what the local rules are regarding masks, occupancy, and social distancing. Also don't forget to bring a copy of your vaccination card, which, depending on the state or city, could be required by law for entry in some indoor spaces.
Vaccination and COVID testing are not required for domestic air travel, although wearing a mask is. Hawaii is currently the only U.S. state with its own entry rules: to avoid a 10-day quarantine, travelers must either show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from within 72 hours of departing on the last leg of their trip.
As for international flights, the CDC requires travelers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, regardless of vaccination status. You can also visit the CDC's Travel Recommendations page to check the COVID-19 situation in your destination.
- Make contingency plans.
International travelers need to allow time for COVID-19 testing when they're booking flights and hotel stays. You should also have a plan in place in the event that you have to quarantine at either end of your trip.
Domestic travelers who aren't just driving to grandma's house for the day should also plan ahead. Between rising inflation, staffing issues, and pent-up demand after a year of missed holidays, prices for airfare, rental cars, and hotels are high in many parts of the country. You might also want to locate the nearest COVID-19 testing facilities so that you know where to go if you or someone in your party starts to feel ill.
- Consider travel insurance.
One way to build some extra flexibility into your plans is to stick with reservations that you can cancel or change. Some companies might still charge you service fees on altered reservations, so make sure that you read the fine print.
Another option is travel insurance. These plans probably aren't necessary for a quick domestic flight. But given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic right now, insurance could be worth the cost for longer stays or international travel. While traditional travel insurance plans cover things like lost luggage and medical emergencies, some companies have started offering coverage against issues related to COVID-19, such as having to change travel plans due to illness or quarantine.
- Work with a professional.
Clicking and swiping through travel sites and apps has become the standard way that most of us book travel. But a travel agent can help you sort out some of the logistical challenges of the pandemic, including making contingency plans and picking the appropriate level of insurance. And if your schedule changes at the last second, calling your travel agent might be more effective than calling an airline's customer service number.
We're also happy to assist with your travel plans. If you need some help working out a budget for an upcoming trip or if you want to make travel a bigger part of your financial plan in the year ahead, let’s add that to the agenda for your 2022 planning session and plot some exciting trips on your $Lifeline.