Only a handful of countries are allowing Americans in without restrictions, and the U.S. State Department is urging all Americans to avoid international travel due to COVID-19. For those who still want to go abroad, things will likely look very different.
Carol Bryant, a travel advisor, just returned from a trip to Mexico.
“I went for a few reasons. One, because I love it down there. I've been going there for years,” Bryant said. “I also wanted to see what it was like, so I could tell people what my experience was.”
Mexico is one of the few countries currently allowing Americans in without restrictions.
“I felt safer there than I feel here," Bryant said. "I think it was a much more consistent enforcement. My feeling is this isn't going away anytime soon and we need to find a way to live with it.”
Each country is responding differently to American visitors.
“There is a ban on Americans traveling to any of the countries in the Schengen area so that does leave Ireland and Britain open as far as European countries go,” Hannah Oreskovich, a travel influencer and marketing consultant, said.
Since COVID-19 started spreading, she hasn’t traveled outside the U.S.
“There’s definitely some countries who are taking advantage of those opportunities right now who probably need the tourism,” Oreskovich explained.
The airline Emirates is a prime example, recently announcing passengers will receive free COVID-19 insurance. This could include medical expenses and quarantine costs. But countries change their rules about who is allowed in, and who must quarantine upon arrival, depending on case numbers.
“Their numbers look good so they loosen things. Their numbers start to go up, they tighten it down,” Bryant said.
“Lots of what I’m seeing, you have to test before you go and test when you get there and you're still quarantining maybe,” Sherry Ott, a travel blogger, said. ”They have to have a way to be able to check people in quarantine.”
Ott is talking about Ireland, a country allowing Americans in with restrictions. One of those restrictions includes being in self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
“They haven't been checking it very much, so it hasn't been really as effective as they would've liked it to be,” said Ott, who has been a travel blogger since 2006.
“There is a wide range," said Bryant of international restrictions. "Bahamas recently was going to start letting people in, and then they said, 'We will let you in, but you have to stay in a government-run facility at your own expense. Different countries are doing different things, but it changes all the time.”
So, how do you plan a trip if rules change daily?
“Get travel insurance that lets you cancel for any reason. Any reason,” Bryant suggested. “This is not the time to shop deals.”
Ott said international travel will look different moving forward.
“It’s going to be a lot less, a lot more self-guided tours. Maybe less time in big cities, more time in nature. Kind of those same trends that are happening in the U.S.,” Ott said.