Around the World: Getting Ready to Get on the Road Again!
Now that more than 61 percent of adults over 65 have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and that percentage is increasing rapidly, many senior citizens are ready to travel again. In fact, many are champing at the bit in eager anticipation of reopening the gates to getaway travel and visits to much missed friends and family across the nation, and in other parts of the world. They are ready to book and take what are now being called ‘vaxications.’
Of course, that’s very good news for the travel industry’s wide range of businesses and employees that have been seriously impacted by the loss of revenues from nonessential travel bookings.
At present, industry sources report that air travel is on an upswing. For example, Transportation Security Administration stats show that 1.4 million travelers were processed at U.S. airports on March 18, and that’s the highest number since the pandemic began last March (although it’s still a big drop from the 2.32 million people who were processed on the same day in 2019).
Hotels and resorts report that bookings are on the rise, as well, especially among travelers over the age of 65. The boost in bookings has occurred as more and more seniors are vaccinated. Hotels do not ask whether people who are making reservations have been vaccinated, but apparently many guests do mention their vaccination status when they book. And, many also ask what recommended preventive protocols the hotel is following – such as whether masks are required, whether employees are tested for fevers or other COVID-19 symptoms when they come to work and the percentage of workers who have also been vaccinated.
If you are about to plan a vaxication, know that many countries are still closing their borders to American tourists. That includes Italy and France and most European nations. Canada, too, is closed to tourists from the U.S., and the restrictions won’t lift until April 21 at the earliest.
Also, if you are considering travel outside the U.S., be prepared to face delays upon reentry with COVID-19 tests required and the possible mandate of quarantine for a specified period of time.
So, your best bet, all things considered, is to stay within the U.S.
Not surprisingly, the most popular stateside places to go include the U.S. national parks and other outdoorsy scenic destinations where there is plenty of fresh air and close proximity to crowds of strangers is likely to be minimal. There are wonderful national parks located across the U.S., so traveling to them by car is also a good alternative to boarding an airplane. For accommodations, most of the national parks have lovely in park lodges and are also surrounded by motels. But you might also consider renting an RV and, if you do, be sure to give it a deep clean before moving into it.
Beach vacations are similarly appealing, especially where condos and other rental properties abound. Of course, rentals don’t provide the amenities and activities offered by hotels and resorts, but you do have more control over cleanliness and the number of people you come into contact with. And you have equal access to the beach. Which is the main attraction. This is also a really good way to meet up with family and friends after a long period of pandemic separation.
If you're considering international travel, check the CDC's COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination before planning your trip.
One foreign country that has been attracting a lot of U.S. vaxicationers is Mexico. And that is despite the CDC’s issuance of its highest warning level to “Avoid all travel to Mexico.” The popularity of Mexican destinations – even during the height of the pandemic – was probably because Mexico has been welcoming travelers from the U.S. with open borders. Mexico has required American visitors to fill in a health form, but not to show proof of COVID-19 testing and they impose no period of quarantine. But, if you do go to Mexico, you can expect that when you return home, you will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Many Mexican hotels and resorts are offering testing for their international visitors, so ask about this before making a reservation.
Vaxicationers are also opting to take cruises, now that the cruise lines are insisting that all passengers be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to boarding the ship, /and some cruise lines are also administering COVID-19 tests before allowing passengers to board. If you’re hankering to resume cruising, look at Royal Caribbean’s schedule of departures to the Caribbean starting in June or browse Crystal Cruises’ Bahamas cruises beginning in July. Apparently bookings are brisk, so if you’re eager to sail away, make your reservations soon.
But remember, you still have to get to the departure port – and that leg of the journey will most probably be by air. So, when considering whether you want to book a cruise at this time, factor in whether you’re comfortable with the thought of sitting in the enclosed space of an airplane for several hours while in flight.
Truth be told, there is still some skepticism about COVOD-19 and travel safety. Even if an immediate journey is desirable, it may not be wholly advisable. Lingering concerns about hours spent in an airplane, about interacting with people who are unknown to you and handling things that countless strangers have handled, and about sleeping in hotels where proper COVID-19 preventive measures may not have been followed as prescribed are legitimate concerns, and there is unfortunately no way of verifying that you are 100 percent protected.
In general, the official word from health officials is that once you’ve been fully vaccinated and have waited the requisite two weeks you are protected against a severe case of COVID-19 and that if you do contract the disease your symptoms will seem like a mild cold – one that might require staying in bed, but that won’t put you into the hospital. But this projection isn’t definitive. How could it be? The overall results of how thoroughly the widespread vaccination will eliminate the dangers of contracting the disease through travel haven’t been observed or tested.
So, to be truthful, travel is still somewhat risky. Whether you decide to book and go now on a vaxication or wait until a greater percentage of the world’s population has been inoculated and new COVID-19 mutations are of less concern is entirely up to you.