What you need to know about planning a trip right now

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(CNN) — New year, new perspectives, new travel plans.

Now is the time when many people usually plan their year’s getaways around school calendars and family events, good weather, major festivals, exhibitions and concerts. Again, Covid-19 didn’t get the memo.

Entering the third year of the global pandemic as Omicron spreads around the world, there are STILL a bunch of variables to consider.

Can we even make travel plans right now?

Yes, definitely, says CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen.

Biggest ticket for smoother journeys

In fact, those with some additional immunity to Covid could be in a very good position to see the world.

“Those who are vaccinated and have recently received Omicron are unlikely to be re-infected so soon. It would be entirely reasonable for someone in this situation to plan a trip,” Wen said, with a reminder to be careful upon returning and to quarantine and test beforehand. see any medically vulnerable person.

No, you shouldn’t try to get infected. Here’s why.

Fortunately, those who are vaccinated and strengthened are also well positioned to travel, said Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been advising people for some time to delay travel until they are fully vaccinated. Although the agency did not add the booster to its definition of “fully vaccinated”, it recommend one if you are eligible.

The same goes for travel consultant Dave Hershberger, for another reason. More and more destinations are incorporating boosters into their travel rules.

In Austria, for example, visitors need proof of recall or a negative PCR test in addition to proof of vaccination. The Czech Republic allows boosted travelers to circumvent a test requirement for vaccinated arrivals.

Getting your photos is “the first checkbox if you’re traveling right now,” said Hershberger, owner of Prestige Travel in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Despite the ongoing travel disruptions and complications at the moment, the outlook is completely different than it was a year ago when vaccines were just rolling out.

“Traveling now, if you’re vaccinated, is probably not going to put you in the hospital,” Hershberger said.

Travelers who have had booster shots can bypass testing to enter the Czech Republic, where Prague is one of the best.

Michal Cizek/AFP via Getty Images

Essentials: research and testing

Travel restrictions change, change again, then change again. Using a travel consultant can save you a lot of time.

It takes advisors two to three times longer than before the pandemic to arrange the same trips, Hershberger said.

Whether you hire an advisor or do it yourself, patience is key.

“It’s not a trip to 2019. It’s different, and it’s probably here to stay for a while, and so you have to be flexible, you have to do your research.”

“And if you check a month, you have to check again two weeks, and you have to check again a week before you go,” Hershberger said.

Even before Omicron, Ashley Les, a travel consultant at Protravel International, directed cautious travelers to direct flights to places that required pre-trip testing.

That way almost everyone on the flight had recently tested negative for Covid-19, she told CNN Travel ahead of the holiday. You won’t get that domestic flight in the United States, she noted.

Now she suggests even more testing.

“Even if your destination doesn’t require testing, TEST!” Les said this week via email. “That way you know you’re traveling Covid-free.”

Les also suggests minimizing interactions with other people a week before your trip.

Packing a few quick tests in your suitcase for “peace of mind” if you start to feel sick is also a good idea, Hershberger said.

What you do when you arrive at your destination is as important as the precautions you take during transport.

What you do when you arrive at your destination is as important as the precautions you take during transport.

Bijou Samad/AFP via Getty Images

The other safeguard: insurance

For travelers from the United States and many other countries, testing to return home after international travel has become the norm. And it got pretty easy in a lot of places, Hershberger said.

“It’s not a horribly difficult thing to do. If you’re in a resort type area, it’s very easy to do. If you’re cruising, they do it for you,” he said . Here are all CDC details on acceptable testing for entry into the United States.

The real challenge comes if you test positive, which is not uncommon with Omicron in vaccinated people.

Then you’ll need to extend your trip and quarantine for a while – often at your own expense, unless you have travel insurance.

“I wouldn’t think of traveling without some sort of third-party travel insurance that will get me through something like this,” Hershberger said, particularly of international travel.

Hershberger was recently in Argentina, where visitors who test positive must quarantine for seven to 10 days in a state-approved hotel “to the tune of $400 a day, plus you paid for a doctor come”.

Thus, travelers could spend an additional $4,000 or more to extend their trip. The right insurance policy from a provider such as Travel Guard, Allianz or Travel Insured International would cover this.

SquareMouth.com allows users to compare travel insurance quotes from different providers.

Les agrees that “travel insurance is always a must”.

Choose a destination

But we do know that people regularly travel to and from countries that constantly increase and decrease the level of risk based on their number of Covid cases. Wen calls the CDC classifications “a useful tool.”

“Transmission rates are a benchmark,” Wen said. “Another is what precautions are needed and followed where you are going, and then the third is what you plan to do once you get there.

“Are you planning on visiting a lot of attractions and going to indoor bars? It’s very different from going somewhere where you plan to lay on the beach all day and not interact with anyone outside. “other. It’s very different. It’s very different levels of risk.”

And precautions in the places you go are also important. A location that requires proof of vaccination for restaurants or sports venues makes those types of activities safer for you.

At the end of the line

Of course, standard safety precautions still apply – wear a high quality N95, KN95 or KF94 for air travel and when in crowded indoor environments and follow the rules at your destination.

Riding with the unexpected is the pandemic way of life, and travel is no exception.

“If you’re the type of person who can’t handle change, last-minute change, I would suggest you stay home for a little while,” Hershberger said. “You have to be able to go with the flow.”

Top image: General view of Mount Fitz Roy, near El Chalten, Argentina, August 29, 2021. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images)

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