Travel is back! With more countries opening their borders and welcoming international travelers you may be ready to book your summer trip abroad. But before you press that book button on that long awaited vacation, here are 10 tips for international travel in 2022.
Let’s face it, it’s has been a long 2 years and you just want to book that international trip that was canceled in 2020. I get it. But travel looks a lot different than it did in 2019. There are now travel restrictions that you need to consider, each country has their own entry requirements and new documentation is required prior to your arrival to your destination. It can be overwhelming but with the right guidance you can feel confident on your next trip abroad in 2022.
To help you feel more comfortable with international travel in 2022, here are my top 10 things that I have learned over that last year that I think you need to consider before traveling internationally in 2022.
1. Is your passport up to date?
It's time to dust off that passport and you couldn't be happier! But before you decide to book that international trip, check to make sure your passport is not expired and up to date. I know that this may seem like common sense, but if you haven't used your passport in 2 years or longer your passport may be expired or expiring. In most cases, the majority of countries require your U.S. passport to be valid for at least 6 months after your return date. So looking at that expiration date is important.
If it is time to renew your passport, the renewal process can take up to 10 to 12 weeks, so it is important to make sure you send it in with plenty of time before your trip. You wouldn't want to be looking forward to that long awaited trip abroad only to find out your passport has been expired and you won't get your new passport in time for your flight.
If you need to renew your passport the U.S. Department of State's website can give you step by step instructions on how to renew. The process is fairly easy and is done by mail. The cost of the passport renewal is now $130, which is an increase of $20 as of December 2021.
So what do you do if you need your passport expedited? If you need your passport to be renewed quicker than the current processing times you have the option to get your passport expedited. For an extra cost of $60 your passport can be expedited and processed in 5 to 7 weeks. Please be aware that processing times begin the day your passport is received at the passport agency or center and not the day you mail your application in.
2. Does your destination require a visa?
Holding a U.S. passport allows you to travel short-term to 180 countries without a visa. But with that being said, you still need to do your research to make sure your destination does not require a visa. To find out if your destination requires a visa, I highly recommend the Travel.State.Gov website which provides safety and security information to every country in the world so you can assess the risk of travel and what is needed to travel to your destination.
For all of my U.S. passport holders who are looking to travel to Europe, you will shortly need to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) visa waiver. This new travel authorization to Europe's Schengen Zone will go into effect by the end of 2022. This new visa requirement is similar to the ESTA visa for those entering the United States. To stay up to date on visa requirements to Europe for U.S. passport holders, the ETIAS visa website provides all information that you need, including an area to leave your name, e-mail address and your country of residence to be notified when the ETIAS visa will be required.
3. Check for travel restrictions and advisories for your destination
Your passport is valid and the destination you are traveling to doesn't require a visa, now it's time to see if the destination is open to U.S. travelers. As countries begin to open up to tourism, we are now faced with travel restrictions, requirements and advisories. Some travel restrictions and advisories that you need to ask yourself include:
Is my destination open to U.S. passport holders?
Do I need to quarantine upon arrival?
Do I need to provide a negative COVID-19 test for entry?
If I do, am I required to show a PCR or antigen test
The first travel restriction that you need to consider is, Is my destination open to U.S. passport holders? If that answer is no, you need to go back to the drawing board and find a destination that is. To find out which countries are open, I highly recommend checking out The Points Guy, who has a post that is frequently updated with a country-by-country guide to coronavirus reopenings. Another useful website that I use to check travel restrictions is Kayak. They provide an interactive map where you can see which countries are open, which countries are open with restrictions in place and those who are closed.
Once you have chosen a destination that is open to U.S. passport holders, you now need to consider the entry requirements into the country. A lot of countries are requiring you to provide a negative COVID-19 test result upon arrival. If this is a requirement, you need to determine if you are required to show a PCR or rapid antigen test. This is important! Some countries will not accept a rapid antigen test.
The next thing to consider is, Am I required to quarantine upon arrival? Some countries are still requiring a quarantine period upon arrival despite proof of negative COVID-19 test results and vaccination status. Each country that is requiring a quarantine period, the length of quarantine differs and the length may be determined by COVID-19 vaccination status, which leads me to the next thing you need to consider before international travel in 2022.
4. Do you need the COVID vaccine to travel?
This next topic is a controversial one but one that needs to be discussed because it's a reality of travel in 2022. Do you need the COVID vaccine to travel? The answer to this question will differ depending on the destination that you are traveling to. There are several countries that are requiring proof of vaccination as an entry requirement.
Some countries will allow you to enter their country without a proof of vaccination if you can provide a negative COVID-19 test result, others will allow you to enter without proof of a negative COVID-19 test result if you are fully vaccinated and others require you to provide proof of both a negative COVID-19 test result and to be fully vaccinated. With that being said, several countries are also requiring you to show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants and tourist sites. So a "vaccine passport" may be a requirement.
I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding this topic and I am not here to give you my stance on it, I am just here to provide information on what may or may not be required for international travel in 2022.
5. Fill out all necessary documents prior to departure
Next topic of discussion that you need to consider before international travel in 2022 is, Are there any necessary documents that I need to fill out prior to my departure?
Once your book an international trip, you may need to fill out required necessary documents. Airlines have been great about making sure you follow all necessary steps prior to departure with creating check lists. I regularly fly with Delta Airlines and they have created the Delta FlyReady, which is a digital dashboard to help you verify all of your final destination's entry requirements prior to departure.
One of the necessary documents that may need to be filled out prior to departure is a passenger locator form or a digital passenger declaration. The names can be used interchangeably and most depend on the destination that you are traveling to. This is an online form that must be completed before departure that includes your health and travel plans.
6. Consider buying travel insurance
In a post pandemic world, you may want to consider travel insurance. When traveling abroad, it is unlikely that your health insurance will cover you if you were to get sick. But in addition to seeking medical care abroad, travel insurance also cover any trip interruptions and unexpected cancellations.
Some of the companies that I recommend for travel insurance includes World Nomads and Safety Wing. The price for travel insurance will depend on how long you plan on traveling and where you are traveling to. Most travel insurances also have several different tiers of coverage to choose from.
7. Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
Another new thing to consider when traveling internationally in 2022 is enrolling into the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, also known as STEP. STEP is a free program that allows U.S. citizen traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Enrolling in STEP, you will receive important information while abroad from the Embassy in regards to safety conditions. STEP will also contact you in an emergency, such as a natural disaster, civil unrest or a family emergency.
8. Make copies of your necessary and important documents
In a pre-pandemic world, I am sure you never considered making copies of your necessary important documents. As a type A personality, I have always traveled with hard copies of my passport, itinerary and accommodations. I like to be prepared and as we navigate into a post-pandemic world, we are traveling with more necessary documents. I would suggest making copies just in case you lose a document of importance.
9. Know the requirements to enter back into the U.S.
Unfortunately every trip comes to an end, which mean you will be heading back to the United States. It is important for you to know the current entry requirements to enter back into the United Sates. Currently you are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken 24 hours prior to your flights departure regardless of vaccination status.
10. Be flexible
The last and final piece of advice I have for you traveling in 2022 is to be flexible. Travel no longer looks like it did in 2019 before the pandemic. With all of the new restrictions there are bound to be kinks that need to be worked out. We are all trying to navigate travel in a new post-pandemic world and trying to figure out what the new normal will look like. So please be flexible and understanding as we all navigate the unknown.
As you can see, travel has changed since before the pandemic. There are a lot of extra steps, documents and restrictions that can make travel a little difficult and overwhelming. But I hope you found these 10 tips for international travel in 2022 to be helpful. These tips are based on my own experience traveling internationally since the start of the pandemic that I think are important to help guide you during your international travels both before and during your trip. Please keep in mind that safety protocols and restrictions change frequently, so please do your own research prior to booking your international travels.
My hope if that you take these tips to help you feel more confident booking and navigating your international travels in this post-pandemic world. Now what are you waiting for? Book that international trip and I'll see you in an airport somewhere around the world!
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