"And our way is on the road again..."
~ Willie Nelson
Hallelujah! The world is starting to open up again. A few months ago, we wrote about why you should already be planning your 2022 tour. All of these points still apply, even more so now when travel is really starting to pick up. But what else should you be thinking about when you begin planning your first post-COVID trip?
1. Domestic Travel
While there are still restrictions in place for both domestic and international travel, if you choose a domestic destination, fully vaccinated travelers don’t need to get tested before or after travel (unless the city or state you’re traveling to has its own restrictions). There’s also no need to self-quarantine after a domestic trip. You can check local restrictions by clicking here or see the CDC’s Quick Reference Infographic below.
Also, keep in mind that if you choose a domestic destination, you can often opt to bus there, skipping the airport altogether. Road trips have been one ray of sunshine for families over the past year and there’s no reason they can’t be the same for your student group. Be sure to check with your tour company on their up to date COVID policies. Some companies are requiring proof of a negative PCR test prior to travel and others aren’t. It’s best to confirm and confirm again.
2. International Travel
While international travel might require you to jump through a few more hoops, it can still be an option for your group. Again, the CDC is advising against any kind of travel unless you’re fully vaccinated. If you’re choosing to take your group out of the country, there is an increased risk for getting or spreading the virus even if everyone has been vaccinated.
You’ll want to work closely with your tour company to keep up to date on both airline and destination requirements, which can change rapidly. Many countries are still on lock down (but won’t necessarily be if you’re planning a year or more out) and others are requiring a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival. This is in addition to the US still requiring all air passengers to have a negative test result no more than 3 days before your flight home.
You can check the CDC’s country by country COVID-19 situation by clicking here as see their international Quick Reference Guide below.
3. Vaccination Considerations
Yes, the world is beginning to look a little more “normal”, but there is still a pandemic happening and some countries are still in full battle mode. The CDC is advising that only those who are fully vaccinated travel at all, whether domestically or internationally. Luckily, the COVID-19 vaccine is now available to those who are 12 and older, which is a big deal for teachers and group leaders who want to plan trips for their students. Vaccine rollout is going well in the United States, but it’s been a different story abroad. As you’d imagine, some countries are doing better than others. Recovery is and will continue to be uneven, as each country controls not only vaccine administration, but also how strict their lockdown measures are and when those measures will ease. But one thing is certain. People who are vaccinated will be the first to be welcomed back both here in the US and abroad. Click here to see how each country is doing with their rollout.
4. The Importance Of Insurance
What was once an afterthought in the purchasing process, is now a must have. We’re talking about insurance. Most student travel companies have always offered cancellation insurance in one form or another. It’s always been a nice-to-have perk, mainly sold for the post-departure added value (lost baggage, medical issues on tour, trip delay, etc.). Now that “cancel for any reason” clause is a necessity, not just for a parent’s peace of mind (what if Johnny gets sick a few days before departure?!), but also in case a trip date or location is moved due to changing travel restrictions. As a group leader, it’s important to think about this happening, because it did a year ago. The industry had a tough time dealing with rapidly changing mandates and parents were not happy waiting months for refunds. Talk to your tour company about insurance options up front and be ready to answer your parents’ questions about it during your first parent meeting.