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With the world opening up again, many are eager to resume their vacations, work trips, and cultural experiences, but with COVID restrictions, required testing/vaccination, and higher chance of virus exposure, many are being much more selective with their travel destinations. Domestic travel within the United States does not have many travel restrictions, as NYC lifted their quarantine and vaccination mandate, creating more tourist flow for the cities of America. However, the excitement around international travel is abundant. Many are eager to explore the history and culture of various countries after being confined to the spaces of their home. The debate between taking the risks of international travel or finding new, safer spaces to uncover opens a new chapter in the world of international travel and cultural exchange.

The lifting of travel bans in many countries have people eager to jump on a plane and escape the climate of America. Nonetheless, many do not understand the research and preparation needed to create a fluid, safe travel experience across the water. The CDC provides travel insight into various countries’ requirements and restrictions, but it is vital to look on the country’s own government website to verify the information and find the next steps. Some countries only accept certain verifications of vaccination for entry, such as the EU Digital COVID certificate, which only is offered to EU residents, confining American citizens’ international travel. However, now as summer has arrived, many countries have little to no travel requirements, as they are lifting vaccine mandates and even the requirement to test before entry.

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Re-entry into the United States has recently changed its requirements, allowing more freedom to travel internationally. The United States CDC guidelines state as of June 12th, 2022, regardless of vaccination or citizenship status, all entering the country do not need to provide a negative COVID test. With this new CDC update, international travel is reborn. However, if you are a visitor to the United States (a non-US citizen who is a non-immigrant), you still must provide proof of vaccination.

The restrictions still implemented are for the safety of travelers, both citizens and visitors, as the risk of COVID and new, upcoming variants remain a very real threat to the world. However, there is no doubt that international travel is skyrocketing this summer. Still, many find themselves worried of potential risks and requirements when going to another country. With the concern of not having the correct test, vaccine pass, or other various travel forms, is the increase of international travel truly stable?

Many of the concerns around international travel go beyond the uncertainty of tests and requirements, but of expense. International travel is already expensive and requires a substantial amount of preparation. Now, even more preparation is needed, as COVID tests, often needed 24-72 hours before, can be in the hundreds of dollars range. Furthermore, the risk of testing positive creates a haunting nightmare of paying thousands to quarantine in a beautiful country where one could not step beyond the hotel door. Even with these restrictions slowly lifting, the skyrocketing price of airlines, hotels, and rentals can deter individuals from traveling internationally.

Furthermore, the new normal of working from home, zoom groups and clubs, and online classes has created a bubble in which many do not have to travel internationally anymore, either. While many are itching to travel abroad but may not have the means of doing so at the moment, others who were obligated to pre-pandemic now have varying options to quit the stress and risks of international travel.

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With the lessening of potential risks and obstacles, international travel is seemingly popular, with tourism seeping through the COVID barriers. While many are choosing to remain home, or vouch for safer, closer travel, others are beaming at any opportunity to regain cultural and social growth, no matter the steps to get there. After years of zoom, facetime, and social media to fulfill our desire for travel and socialization, the doors to new cultures and experiences are necessary for support and connection amidst challenging times. The cultural exchange, language growth, and historic beauty is valued, and many travelers will go the extra mile to see it, once again… IRL.

How long we can expect COVID restrictions for international travel is unforeseen, as new variants and concerns arise frequently. However, many countries, including the United States, are beginning to open their doors wider to travelers and lessen some of the restrictions. Whether these decisions will be beneficial for the safety of travelers and COVID rates is uncertain, but it will allow for travelers to see the world with slightly more ease. Nonetheless, international travel will remain a large obstacle as COVID still looms over the world.  For now, we can hold tight to the ability to travel internationally, while still following regulations to protect people’s safety to the best of our ability.

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