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Travelers still need to plan for COVID requirements even as restrictions relax

Be prepared for unexpected changes
Posted at 9:45 AM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 09:58:23-04

BALTIMORE, Md. — The end of some COVID restrictions has many people thinking about the end of the pandemic and finally taking their long, postponed summer vacation.

The CDC and the state have eased up on a lot of restrictions as more people get vaccinated. Still, there are several things travelers need to plan for when booking their trips this summer besides rental cars, hotels, and flights but COVID tests, COVID restrictions, and flight changes.

Whether you travel by air, land or sea to get to your favorite vacation destination this summer, you might want to put together a COVID check list before you pack your bags.

AAA manager of public and government affairs, Ragina Ali said “what we're seeing that the cdc has reduced some of the restrictions as it pertains to COVID-19. We're certainly not back where we were in 2019 as far as it relates to travel.”

The CDC has an international map of COVID-19 travel recommendations and requirements for wherever people want to go. Many destinations outside the lower 48, such as the Caribbean, require a negative COVID test in order to visit. AAA also has a map of domestic travel restrictions.

It’s why Ali recommends scheduling a COVID test as part of the vacation planning process.

“It's important to note for most of those destinations, it has to be done within 72 hours of your travel, so it can't be done prior to that, it has to be within that 72 hour window, for it to be valid,” Ali said.

Ali also advise travelers to make sure it's the right test for where you're headed.

“For the test that you need to go to Puerto Rico, that's not a rapid test, so you have to wait a little bit longer. So again, it's really important to know what the requirements are for wherever it is that you're traveling. I know in Jamaica you have to fill out a questionnaire in advance, and have that ready to present at customs when you arrive,” Ali said.

It’s important to plan ahead for what requirements are needed before hopping on a plane or boarding a cruise ship.

“Some cruise lines will require that you have a COVID vaccine before you can actually board their ship, and that's obviously at their discretion,” Ali said.

AAA recommends another checklist for those who plan to hit the road in their own car.

“Make sure your battery is in good condition. Make sure your engine is in good condition, make sure your tires have the proper tread depth, and proper pressure. Again, you can go to any of our AAA car care centers in the state of Maryland to get a free inspection,” Ali said.

The pandemic brought many changes to the travel industry and travelers alike. So keep an eye on your email for any notifications.

“I’ve had two flights, upcoming flights that are scheduled that have been changed, where one is no longer a direct flight. It now has a layover. Again that is part of their capacity issue and the fact that they are getting more and more people on these planes, and sort of having to be flexible as an industry. And, unfortunately making us having to be a little bit more flexible as travelers as well,” Ali said.

Ali also said travelers should also account for any unexpected changes of their own.

“With so many restrictions in place and some things, perhaps where you might not have your COVID results back in time, or things that could possibly alter your trip. Now more than ever, if your working with a travel adviser, perhaps take an interest in purchasing that travel insurance,” Ali said.

Ali recommends travelers consider buying a travel insurance policy which allows cancellations for any reason.

“It’s the more expensive of the travel insurances but it’s the one that will insure that you get your money back . There are other travel insurances you can purchase as well where you can get a credit, a future credit. So, if you know you’re going to travel eventually, that’s certainly a great option as well, and not quite as pricey as the cancel for any reason insurance,” Ali said.