So you are fully vaccinated and you have been dying to travel. And you know plenty of countries in Europe and Latin America would welcome you with open arms. But all those restrictions, they turn you off, they stress you out and they confuse you. And you are not alone.
Where do you start? An email or call to Adventure Coordinators is where. We have helped plenty of travellers find their way through the maze of travel restrictions.
Take Margaret who called me the other day wanting to go to Iceland. She needed help figuring out the myriad travel restrictions. We went to work for her, methodically, precisely and found out how it can be done. And thanks to our sleuthing, Margaret will be on her way at the end of July.
This is a case study on COVID travel restrictions, what to look out for and common pitfalls.
"I am fully vaccinated"
So you had two vaccines and you feel you are ready to take on the world. But can you? First off you need to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to travel. Secondly, not every vaccine is accepted for worldwide travel. Be sure your vaccine is approved for travel in your destination.
Check your destination
We have a powerful suite of software that allows us to build possible travel routes and alerts us of any travel restriction a traveller may encounter en-route. The first thing to check is the destination. Through our software we found a like to a wonderful Icelandic tool allowing you to quickly check if you are allowed to enter. We answered a couple of questions and found out Margaret was good to go. Better yet, as of July 1st, she was allowed to enter Iceland without any requirements for testing or quarantine. But, she had to bring proof of vaccination and pre-register. Our software provided links to the relevant forms and information.
Getting to Iceland
With Iceland Air not flying from Canada to Iceland in July (they are starting up again in August), Margaret had to fly via a third country. This meant extra restrictions that could complicate her journey. The two logical routings were via the USA and via the UK.
Since via the USA is much quicker, we checked it first. An outbound connection was allowed provided Margaret carried a negative COVID-19 test result. The viral test must be taken a maximum of 3 days before connecting through the United States.
So far so good.
Coming back from Iceland
Where we hit a snag is a little known presidential decree which dates back to the Trump era and was renewed when Biden took office. The decree states that if you have a travel history in any of the 26 Schengen Area countries (which includes Iceland), along with a handful of other countries (including Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, South Africa and the United Kingdom) during the 14 days prior to your arrival, you are not allowed to transit through the United States. Transiting through the USA was out.
So we researched our fallback route, via London. Here we hit pay dirt. Flying Canada to London and connecting to Iceland is permitted both ways according to the UK Government. Margaret would have to take a COVID-19 test and complete the passenger locator form before travel in either direction. That meant one test to be taken in Canada and one in Iceland. The latter is organized by the tour operator.
Returning to Canada - no quarantine!
When flying to Canada, mandatory travel, arrival and personal information is uploaded into the ArriveCan app. With the quarantine on arrival lifted for fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents, Margaret no longer had to quarantine when she returned home. However, she would have to present the result of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. The test taken in Iceland would take care of that requirement.
On arrival there will be another test or she would be getting a home test kit (as instructed).
And while no quarantine is required, our government does expect you to follow certain requirements for 14 days, including wearing a mask in public.
Booking a tour
After all the research it was time to book a tour. Our best recommendation is to choose a tour operator which has flexible booking conditions, allowing you to cancel or make changes last minute. We can provide you with the latest on this.
Purchasing an airfare
Likewise, as local requirements can change and borders may close we recommend clients pay a little more to get an airfare that allows changes and either a refund or a credit in case of cancellation by the traveller. We are happy to research and book airfares for you.*
We offer plans with a cancel for any reason benefit. This literally means any reason. If your situation changes, if the tour company cancels but you have booked a non-refundable airfare, or If you simply no longer want to go, a cancel for any reason benefit can help you recover your losses. Ask us for details.
So now what?
Now that you see how we can help with planning a safe and hassle-free trip, where is it you would like to go? Contact us to outline your plans and we'd be happy to help!
* We do charge a CA$150 per person fee to research and book air fares (fee for air only). We reduce this to CA$100 per person if you also book a tour with us. Compared to the total cost of your trip it is a small worthwhile investment.
E&OE. The information in this article was correct at the time of publication but should be double checked against relevant government websites before booking a trip.