By Catherine Powell
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
After being cooped up for better than a year, the good news is that the travel scene is starting to get back in gear. Bolstered by COVID vaccines and declining infection rates, recent surveys have indicated that Americans are gaining confidence in their ability to travel with each month that passes. With summer being only just around the corner, I thought I’d take the time to give all of you a glimpse at the promise and the perils of travel in 2021.
- Come fly with me. Domestic flight bookings for this summer have skyrocketed in the past two months, tripling since February 1. International flights from the US have also increased sharply during the same period. While the rate of infection both here and abroad has decreased, that doesn’t mean being cooped up on an airplane with hundreds of other strangers is 100% safe. Not to mention the fact that to board an airliner means you’re required to enter an airport where thousands of people from all parts of the globe are forced to comingle before boarding and/or changing planes. Unlike other venues, it’s impossible for airline passengers to sit 6-feet apart. Once you’re assigned a seat on an airliner, there’s no way for you to know if any of those seated nearby is infected. If you do decide to travel by air, make sure you wear a mask at all times. Also make sure you bring along a supply of sanitary wipes that you can use to disinfect the seat, armrests, tray table, and anything else you’ll touch during the duration of the flight. If you decide to use the on-board lavatory, it’s best to avoid directly touching the door, the faucet, the door locking mechanism, and the handle that’s used to flush the toilet.
- International Travel Troubles. If you plan on traveling outside the US, be aware that many international airports are going to be conducting passenger temperature checks on arriving flights. What travelers need to know is that if they test positive for COVID on foreign shores, they could wind up being quarantined for days or weeks until their test comes back negative. The other side of the coin is should you test positive for COVID before boarding a flight, you will in all likelihood be denied entry back into the US. The CDC and the US State Department recently stated that US citizens on vacation overseas would not be allowed to board a flight back into the country if they tested positive for Coronavirus. According to the Washington Post, “The State Department has also said it will not be offering medical assistance to Americans who test positive or require a coronavirus test abroad because of the department’s “limited medical resources” outside the country. That means that Americans who become sick or stranded outside of the United States should not rely on a nearby U.S. Embassy to assist them.”
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
- Who will cover the costs if your test results are positive? Unless you purchase travel insurance that covers testing, medical expenses, and up to 14-days of quarantine, the costs of an extended quarantine will most likely come out of your own pocket. If you’re forced to quarantine in a hotel, the cost of lodging will also come out of your pocket unless the hotel is willing to absorb the cost themselves. While some hotels here and abroad offer free or discounted quarantine lodging for guests, this is the exception rather than the rule. The same goes for in-house Coronavirus testing. Before you book your accommodations, it would behoove you to discuss the matter with your travel agent.
- Anybody up for a road trip? Even though most states have lifted restrictions on interstate travel, curfews, and dining restrictions, if you’re planning a road trip this summer, there are some things you need to keep in mind:
a. As of March 17, 2021, only 17 of the Lower 48 states offer unrestricted travel. More than half are reopening with mask restrictions. Both South Carolina and Missouri are open with restrictions that include wearing masks, social distancing and limiting the number of persons allowed in restaurants.
b. While it isn’t necessary to wear a hazmat suit while traveling by road, you still need to take precautions whenever you stop to shop, dine, fuel up or use the restroom. You also need to wear a mask and maintain social distancing even if you’ve already been vaccinated for COVID.
c. Be prepared for the unexpected. While making reservations in advance is always a good idea, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pack some camping gear just in case you discover your hotel is shut down due to an outbreak. It also would be prudent to bring along extra food and beverages so you won’t have to eat out so often.
d. Should you begin to exhibit symptoms while on the road, you’ll need to find a local testing station to determine if you’re infected with COVID. Your best bet is to look up the nearest department of health website to find the nearest testing location.
e. Before you head for the open road, you should have your vehicle inspected by your local mechanic, especially if it’s been sitting idle for a while. Everything from the oil and filters to belts and battery tends to perform poorly if they are underutilized.
5. Packing for a pandemic. While most people know to pack masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer, there are a few other odds and ends you should bring with you on vacation to minimize your risk of infection:
a. Plastic sandwich bags are a terrific way to keep you from coming into contact with germs that tend to linger on tough to sanitize remote controls.
b. Pillowcases brought from home are much safer to rest your head on than those provided by hotels.
c. A thermometer will let you know whether you or anyone traveling with you has hay fever or the real McCoy.
Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/