Vacation Travel To Tropical Destinations: Is It Safe?

Are you planning a hot weather getaway for the holidays? Here’s what to consider about the COVID-19 risk before booking your trip.

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Some tropical destinations may pose a lower COVID-19 risk to travelers than others this holiday season. Posnov / Getty Images

As the temperatures drop and we head resolutely into winter, you may be thinking about visiting a tropical destination for the vacation.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to complicate travel and no destination is safe, there are some destinations where you can find refuge in hot weather with lower transmission rates and safety protocols that can help put you at ease.

Healthline spoke with health and travel experts about what you should consider before booking a trip to a tropical location, why you might want to choose one destination over another, and how to stay so safe. as possible throughout your visit.

When asked where you might consider traveling for a tropical vacation this year, Lonely Planet Senior Editor Alex butler told Healthline that you should keep in mind the reality that “traveling anywhere during the pandemic carries some risk.”

That being said, choosing a tropical destination might be safer, given that you can be outdoors, which mitigates some of the risk of transmission indoors.

“While there are many tropical destinations with lower COVID-19 rates than the United States, you also need to consider the local vaccination rate,” Butler pointed out.

“You don’t want to take the risk of spreading the disease in the local community, so make sure not only that you are vaccinated, but that the majority of people who live in your vacation destination are as well,” he said. she declared.

Dr Abinash Virk, a consultant for the Mayo Clinic’s division of infectious diseases, echoed Butler, saying you should be vaccinated and “continue to mask yourself indoors and during flights or airports” when traveling to a tropical location .

Additionally, you should practice physical distancing when traveling to countries that may have less stringent COVID-19 rules.

Virk told Healthline that you should assess the risk criteria that a given destination might fall into.

She pointed out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 travel recommendations by destination map, which can help you avoid destinations that might be considered “high risk” at this time.

“If someone has to travel to high risk countries where COVID-19 is more prevalent (present and in circulation) then I would limit activities that increase people’s exposure, especially in crowded places like indoor markets , concerts, etc. She said. .

Virk added that it would be safer to rent a house than to stay in a hotel, and safer to cook your own meals than to eat out.

Virk also pointed out that if you have risk factors for severe COVID-19, you should not consider traveling at this time, especially abroad.

“If travel is necessary for such a person, then they should think about how they would handle the situation if they contracted COVID-19 abroad,” Virk explained.

She advised people to consider the status of a destination’s hospitals, the availability of COVID-19 treatments there, air evacuation possibilities (which may be limited), and the need for testing and of a possible quarantine on return.

“If you are staying in a hotel, what are the hotel’s COVID-19 mitigation measures? Are the staff masked and vaccinated? she added.

In addition, Virk suggested that you develop a sense of pre-trip awareness of the situation in a given tropical destination.

If COVID-19 rates have worsened since you originally booked your ticket, you may consider canceling your trip.

While COVID-19 rates and recommendations are continually changing, some tropical destinations may be at lower risk than others at this time.

Still, keep in mind that traveling to any destination during the pandemic will come with a certain level of risk.

Additionally, in addition to the number of COVID-19 cases, vaccination rates and safety protocols are other important factors to consider before booking travel.

If you are going on vacation to a tropical location, here are a few destinations you may want to consider and why.

Aruba

While the CDC classifies Aruba, in the Dutch Caribbean, as having “very high” levels of COVID-19, Butler said a deeper dive also shows the country has vaccinated around 75.3% of its population, according to Reuters.

Aruba requires fully vaccinated visitors aged 12 and over to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of departure, or they could have to spend $ 75 to receive a PCR test at the airport upon their arrival.

For unvaccinated visitors, a negative PCR test should be performed within one day of travel.

You must complete a personal health check, purchase mandatory $ 15 insurance, and wear a mask on the plane, at the airport, and until you get to your hotel room.

For those doing a PCR test on arrival, they should remain in quarantine in their hotel room or other accommodation for up to 24 hours until the results are processed and published.

Masks are also mandatory in all indoor public spaces, such as retail stores, casinos and museums, among other popular destinations, according to the the government’s COVID-19 website.

Bahamas

Currently, the Bahamas is classified as “very high” risk by the CDC. While its COVID-19 vaccination rate is only 33.9% of the total population at the time of publication, its transmission rates have declined significantly, according to Reuters.

Fully vaccinated travelers to the Bahamas should still get a negative COVID-19 test that was taken no more than 5 days prior to arrival.

Those who are not vaccinated should get a negative COVID-19 PCR test no more than 5 days before their arrival date.

All children between the ages of 2 and 11 must get a negative COVID-19 test (rapid antigen or PCR) no later than 5 days before arrival, according to the Bahamas. government site.

Fiji

Butler highlighted Fiji as another good vacation travel option.

Why?

Fiji will reopen non-quarantine travel to fully vaccinated adults from Dec. 1 “after more than 80% of its population has been fully vaccinated,” Butler said, citing an announcement from the Fijian government earlier this fall on rates of fully immunized adults.

Those who are fully vaccinated will be required to provide the results of a negative PCR test which was performed within 72 hours of leaving for the islands.

Then, these visitors will have to take another test once they arrive at their accommodation.

Quarantine will not be required, depending on the government site.

Seychelles

Butler also highlighted Seychelles, which Reuters reports has fully immunized 87 percent of its population as of the publication date.

Visitors traveling do not need to show proof of vaccination, but will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of departure.

You will also need to purchase health insurance that can cover some of these testing costs.

Vaccines are also offered to visitors.

Masks are mandatory in public transport, depending on the American embassy in Mauritius and Seychelles.

Turks and Caicos Islands

At the time of publication, Turks and Caicos, a British territory, has vaccinated approximately 73.8% of its population.

All tourists aged 16 and over must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter.

Tourists must also present a negative COVID-19 test which is administered 3 days before entering the islands.

Children 10 and under are not required to comply.

You will also need to purchase insurance to cover medical costs related to COVID-19 and complete an online health exam before you arrive.

Once you enter the islands’ borders, no additional COVID-19 testing is required and visitors are allowed to stay for 90 days.

All visitors over 2 years old must wear masks in public spaces, a mandate in place until November 30.

People not wearing masks in public spaces could be fined $ 550, according to the government site.

Virk stressed the importance of getting vaccinated and the protection it can provide against COVID-19.

“Vaccines could mean a difference in life or death,” she said. “Vaccines work wonders in reducing the risk of severe COVID-19. “

Some of his other recommendations include assessing the potential risks to you or your family and double-checking your destination’s entry conditions, and whether you can meet those conditions on time.

Further emphasizing the very real risks of any travel at this time, Virk highlighted another concern: “How and who will transport your body if you die abroad? “

This point above is not meant to be a scary tactic, but a reminder that we are still living in a deadly pandemic, and all travel involves risk for yourself and others.

Butler added that you need to be mindful of the people who live in these tropical vacation destinations.

“If you are traveling to an area with a low rate of COVID-19, the most important thing is that you are not the one spreading it. This means getting vaccinated before traveling and following all local rules and regulations, ”Butler explained.

“Being a responsible traveler can also mean going beyond what is required by law. Just because a destination doesn’t require a negative COVID-19 test doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one – before and during your trip, ”she added.

“A PCR test is reliable but can be expensive. You can also purchase antigen or lateral flow tests that can be self-administered⁠ for peace of mind at a lower price, ”said Butler.


We understand that you are concerned for your health and safety away from home and for the safety of the communities you visit around the world. As travel regulations and requirements evolve, we’re here to help you navigate this complex and often confusing landscape. Whether you are driving to a natural wonder in your state or flying around the world, we can help protect yourself and protect others.

Check back often for tips on how to protect yourself and loved ones on your next trip.


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