So, you’re ready to start traveling again but not sure where to start or nervous about how much things have changed since pre-COVID days? Wondering what recommended tips and tricks, you can glean from this article? Not to worry, we have you more than covered!
Here, we go over what type of information you should look out for in planning, booking, and traveling during your curated journey. The world is slowly but surely opening up to international travel again. So, we are now officially starting to meet each other on the other side.
Have a safe trip with all the protocols in place
If one thing has become apparent during this pandemic, it’s that the world is changing, but we can and will roll with the punches! Destinations around the globe have been working around the clock to make sure they continue to conjure wonderful memories for travelers in the decades to come while also making sure local residents stay safe and are protected from this novel coronavirus.
So, a crucial part of learning how to travel in the “new normal” is making sure you review the current sanitary protocols in place according to your included destinations with your travel designer. Governments create and update these protocols according to the most up-to-date WHO and CDC recommendations and often indicate proper mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social distancing.
Check all the restrictions during the planning process
Start thinking about these protocols and restrictions during the planning process for your luxury travel experience, even if you are planning for 2022. We can’t emphasize this enough. Most South American countries are still in the middle phases of vaccination rollouts. So, they are just now building some herd immunity but still have quite a way to go.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about traveling in the coming months or into 2022, though, because your trip also means a lot for local South American economies still struggling due to having little to no visitors for the better part of a year.
If you can travel fully vaccinated, this is even more appreciated because you will be less likely to catch and spread new variants of COVID-19 during your travels. You will also demonstrate your consideration for each host country, and this consideration is indispensable right now.
COVID-19 Terms & Conditions – Read before booking
Another item to keep in mind before booking is whether you have access to COVID-19 Terms & Conditions. You want to make sure you book your private tour with an agency that has you covered when it comes to flexible travel and postponements as long as this pandemic continues. For instance, we have made a commitment to keeping our flexible booking policies until the WHO declares the pandemic officially over.
In addition to being covered by a COVID-19 Terms & Conditions supplement, we recommend simultaneously looking into a “Cancel for Any Reason” travel insurance plan. As we have seen, government restrictions can shift at any time, and you may not be able to postpone for many reasons. In which case, this type of travel insurance coverage will refund the majority, if not your entire, deposit.
Visas, certificates, & other requirements
As a U.S. citizen, you will be able to travel to almost all of South America on a tourist Visa (no application or fee required), as long as you show your return ticket at immigration when you arrive and make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after your departure date. The one exception is Bolivia, the only country requiring a Visa for tourists coming from the United States.
The good news is that this application is pretty simple, in addition to a USD 160.00 per person fee. And we will gladly help you with this process because our signature itineraries to Bolivia offer some of the most incredible travel experiences within South America, including, but not limited to, the world’s largest salt flat: Salar de Uyuni!
When we talk about certificates, we refer to your travel agency’s certifications and accreditations supported and maintained. We recommend booking with an agency that cares about their continuing education and allying with recognized global travel specialists, like the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA). You can take a look at all of our accreditations here.
Lastly, what do we mean by requirements? In addition to sanitary protocols on the ground, many countries have additional requirements to cross the border. For instance, Peru requires each traveler to fill out an online Affidavit of Health (Declaración jurada de Salud in Spanish) that you must present in PDF form (either on a device or printed) at the airport, in addition to a negative PCR test result issued no more than 72 hours before checking into your flight.
Keep these travel tips in mind for the “new normal”
This brings us to considerations and recommendations for when you are actually traveling in the “new normal.” Some of our travel experts have personal experience with the following, so we share these tips with the utmost confidence and care!
– Download your virtual boarding pass
Having access to a virtual boarding pass was just becoming commonplace pre-COVID-19 and has now become synonymous with safe travel. LATAM, in particular, has made it very accessible and we recommend not skipping this easy step before even arriving at the airport to reduce the amount of paper and shared devices.
– Time your COVID-19 test just right – to the best of your ability
At least in the case of Peru, timing your PCR test can be tricky, but not if you know what to expect! We recommend getting your test performed within 72 hours of your flight time to ensure the perfect vacation and minimize bumps at the airport. The Peruvian government also requires the exact timestamp from when you receive your result, not only when you got the test. So, ask for this timestamp ahead of time before performing your test.
– Have your vaccination card on hand
We’ve already touched a bit upon this, but we recommend having your original vaccination card on hand when you travel. Attendants at local airports, museums, and other public spaces may or may not ask you to show your vaccination card; however, if you do have issues with your PCR test for whatever reason, your vaccination card provides added assurance and backup.
– Bring plenty of clean masks
Considering certain destinations like Peru require double-masking in all public areas (both indoor and outdoor), especially when it comes to community-based tours, it’s a good idea to have a Ziploc bag of clean masks at the ready. In addition, we suggest a combo of surgical and cloth masks, in lieu of two surgical masks, to make sure your waste is also at a minimum while traveling.
– Get to the airport with plenty of time to spare
Both checking into flights and security lines are taking longer than usual, and understandably so, with careful revision of COVID-19 travel requirements at check-in. But this doesn’t have to be a point of stress if you anticipate it and arrive at the airport three hours ahead of time for domestic check-ins and four hours ahead of international check-ins!
Kuoda cares about your safety
The safety and wellbeing of our clients have always been one of our top priorities and have only become more critical in the global climate we all find ourselves in. Taking care of each other comes first. This is why we have doubled down on our safety protocols. All of our staff keep up with regular training and webinars related to the most current COVID-19 precautions.
What are our travel protocols now?
Our current protocols related to COVID-19 are regularly updated as part of a living document per WHO and CDC guidelines, as well as the Peruvian government’s mandates. Therefore, every team member, from our drivers to guides, to hosts, is regularly updated regarding these protocols and adheres to them.
Avoiding crowds, mask-wearing, and letting us know the moment any symptoms occur is a given. And all of our office staff, including our dedicated travel designers, reservations, and finance teams, are still staying quite productive from their homes. In addition, all of the hotels we work with have switched to contactless check-ins and check-outs in addition to table-service breakfasts. Our guides are also well-versed in first-aid.
When it comes to your COVID-19 test to return home, we help with all of the necessary logistics, scheduling your test at the appropriate time to coincide with your international departure, as well as your customized itinerary. Of course, these tests still need to be paid in person. However, you will have peace of mind knowing we are taking care of these details for you ahead of time.
We can’t know what else lies ahead of us in the future of travel, but one thing is for sure, travel isn’t going anywhere, and we are more resilient and prepared in light of these circumstances. Learn more about our recommended travel tips for the “new normal” of travel in South America, and contact us today to get the planning started!
Main Photo Source: Freepik