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The Biggest COVID-Related Travel Mistakes People Are Making Right Now

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As vaccination numbers rise in the U.S., so does interest in travel. The Transportation Security Administration screened 1,707,805 passengers on May 9, the highest number since our pandemic began in March 2020. But as people navigate this era of travel, there are several new questions and opportunities for missteps. This is especially true for international trips.

We asked travel experts to share the mistakes they see people making as they plan and go on trips now. Read on for their “don’ts.”

Flouting Local Rules

“I think the biggest mistake people are making when traveling right now is not being respectful of the rules in the place they are traveling to. Since the pandemic began, I’ve been living in Mexico, and I’ve seen firsthand how much tourists are disrespecting the rules. It’s a tricky one, I know. But often, people look around and see others not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing rules, and they follow suit. But the truth is: When you are a guest in another country, you should research the rules before you go and respect them. If you aren’t prepared to follow the rules of the place you are traveling to, then you should probably stay home or travel to somewhere with fewer rules and regulations.” ― Claire Summers, travel blogger at Claire’s Itchy Feet.

“Some travelers think that with the vaccination, they’re totally immune to contracting the virus. Hence, they are traveling more, but they also don’t respect the local practice, such as wearing masks in public places. Where I’m based now in Mexico, I’ve seen such occurrences in Oaxaca City, Playa Del Carmen, and Cancun, where locals wear masks. Still, it’s more often than not the tourists that don’t.” ― Isabel Leong, travel blogger at Bel Around The World.

Failing To Plan Ahead

“Travelers are making the mistake of not planning ahead. The rules are different state-by-state regarding capacity guidelines at hotels and restaurants, even state and national parks. We’re seeing this play out with the run on rental cars. Gone are the days of the last-minute vacation. Plan ahead, even if it’s for a trip you plan to take in 2022.” ― Erika Richter, senior director of communications at the American Society of Travel Advisors.

“What I see happening a lot right now is a sudden rush to travel. With vaccinations rolling out and outside opening up, people are itching to take their first big trip of the year, but they aren’t doing it with the same level of care or research they did pre-pandemic. My suggestion is to not jump the gun: Use research tools like Google Flights price tracker, and still book accommodations a few weeks or a month before your trip.” ― Gabby Beckford, travel expert and digital storyteller at Packs Light.

Missing Entry Requirements

“A common mistake when traveling internationally right now is to not properly research the destination’s rules for entry. A COVID test is often just one requirement. You may also be required to submit a health form or register online before departure ― and different countries use entirely different systems for this. Not knowing this can lead to sore disappointments! Last summer, a friend of mine had to cancel her trip to Greece, as she hadn’t filled out a pre-departure form that generates a personal QR code (it needs to be filled out at least a day in advance, so you can’t do it at the airport). So, be sure to check the official information, and pay extra attention to any instructions you may receive from the airline.” ― Marek Bron, travel blogger at Indie Traveller. Make sure to figure out whether you need to fill out any forms or collect specific paperwork before heading on your trip.

Not Being Cautious

“People are so keen to return to ‘normality’ that after almost a year of adhering to lockdown rules, social distancing, and mask mandates, they are in danger of rushing back too quickly to what was considered normal tourist behavior pre-pandemic. This is understandable, bearing in mind the past year’s events. Still, a certain degree of caution is recommended to enjoy the reopening of borders and travel to our favorite destinations. Too many false starts have occurred over the past year, with second and then third waves hitting many regions and countries to the detriment of tourism. Just because you may be fully vaccinated does not mean everyone else is. Still, as long as travelers respect the local COVID rules and behave sensibly, then summer 2021 should be there to enjoy … cautiously.” ― Alan Fyall, interim chair for the tourism, events, and attractions department at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

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