International Travel in 2021

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Hi Taylor: Feels like things are FINALLY starting to move in the right direction (I even got my first dose of the vaccine!), and I’m wondering about travel. Any thoughts on when people might be able to vacation out of the country again? - Julian

Hey Julian: Hey, congrats! I’m trying to stay cautiously optimistic, but the light at the end of the tunnel does seem to be getting a little brighter. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if unrestricted travel is part of that light. Not to be a wet blanket, but here are the things I consider when thinking about international travel.

1. Each country has its own approach. As we’ve seen over the last year, some regions chose to lock down while others tried to ride this thing out, all with varying degrees of success. I expect that will continue with travel, even as different countries return to other forms of normalcy. As of this writing, there are a whole lot of places that won’t allow travelers from the United States. Even as the numbers look better here, those governments may choose to stay extra vigilant, especially if they’re having a slower rollout with vaccines. It’ll be a bummer if we can’t go to Australia for another year, but that might just be the case.

2. International travel is complicated. As Americans, we’re so used to going where we want to go, when we want to go there. However, with places still requiring quarantine between flights and upon arrival, travel isn’t simple even if you’re flying somewhere that will accept you. Add to that the fact that new coronavirus variants keep flaring up and we’ve got a sticky situation when it comes to who can go where. It’s hard to imagine restrictions will ease too much until we have a larger percentage of the world vaccinated. As well as things might be going here, we have to consider the health and vulnerability of other nations.

3. Closed quarters still scare people. I think this will change in a hurry if the numbers keep falling, but people who don’t want to be indoors with strangers definitely don’t want to be in a metal tube with strangers for upwards of seven hours. It seems like flying can be done safely, but those long flights will give people pause for many months to come. I’ve flown during the pandemic and felt fine about it, but there’s a big difference between keeping your guard up for two hours versus doing it for twelve.

I’d love to be wrong about this, but it seems like the safest predictions with COVID have always been to keep expectations low while praying for the best. Don’t book your flight to Thailand just yet, but here’s hoping you can do so sooner than later!