New requirements to enter the US from November 1:22
The announcement that vaccinated foreign nationals will be able to travel to the U.S. in November after an 18-month ban was good news for families struggling with cross-border separations, airlines eager to relaunch routes. long-haul, tourists and industry insiders eager.
Travel planning is also in the works: According to recently released data from the travel booking platform Hopper, user searches for all international flights to the US increased by 27% on September 20, the announcement date, from the day before, while searches for flights from Europe to the US increased by 68%.
But as excited as travelers heading to the U.S. are to meet loved ones, attend a business conference, or take selfies in front of iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, they should be equally prepared for an experience of journey that is very different these days and that keeps changing constantly.
What vaccines are valid to enter the US?
First, there are new entry restrictions.
All foreign nationals must show proof of vaccination and a negative test taken within three days prior to travel (unvaccinated U.S. citizens, meanwhile, will need to undergo more rigorous testing), as well as comply with enhanced follow-up measures of the contract.
On the ground, safety and health regulations that vary wildly from sea to sea (strongly anti-mask states like Florida versus state mask-wearing mandates and vaccination requirements for indoor dining and other activities in New York). York, for example) almost guaranteed to cause confusion.
A mosaic of security measures
"As Europeans, when we think of the US, we think of a large country," said Catherine Chaulet, a Boston-based Franco-American citizen who is president and CEO of Global DMC Partners, a network of destination management companies. independently owned.
"And the reality is that there are many different states with many different personalities, and that will show up in health and sanitation protocols more than ever."
Complicating the picture further are the critical entry guidelines not yet announced by the US government and health officials - that is, how vaccination status will be assessed and verified.
For example, digital certificates, also known as vaccine passports, which are popular in many countries around the world, have yet to be established in the United States.
Thinking of flying to the United States?
These are the new travel requirements to enter the country
Incoming travelers must be "fully vaccinated," which according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes those who have received vaccines approved for use in the US, as well as those listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization that have not yet received such approval in the US, such as the AstraZeneca vaccine.
While the lifting of the ban is "good news, it is still a very stressful and uncomfortable time to travel," says Robert Cottey, London-based analyst at A2 Global Risk, an international security risk management firm.
"Travelers shouldn't anticipate anything like pre-pandemic travel, not at this stage."
Here's what travelers heading to the US for the first time in a long time should anticipate, plus insider tips for making travel as safe and easy as possible (hint: make sure you have extra patience).
More people in popular destinations
Hungry for a bite to eat from the Big Apple or to see celebrities in Los Angeles?
Join the crowd: Domestic tourism to popular U.S. destinations is already on the rebound (remember the governor of Hawaii advised tourists to stop coming in August?), Even before foreign travelers return to the favorite places that have been lost.
Here's what to know before traveling to New York during the pandemic
Smaller metropolitan destinations, sometimes known as "second-tier" cities, can offer an attractive alternative with a uniquely "American" flavor and fewer crowds, says Mario Tricoci, founder and CEO of Chicago-based Aparium Hotel Group.
"Now is the time to stay in Pittsburgh or Minneapolis or Kansas City and visit some place you wouldn't normally think of going," Tricoci tells CNN.
"They have a different culture. They have that entrepreneurial base. And the culinary scenes in many of these cities are world class, they are as good as the restaurants in New York, Chicago and San Francisco."
Prepare your wallet
Industry insiders say increased demand from international travelers could drive up prices for hotel rooms and vacation rentals this season, when domestic vacation bookings are already strong in many US markets.
According to the latest data from rental management software company Guesty, the volume of vacation rentals reservations in November and December is 377% higher compared to 2020, and 91% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Meanwhile, the nightly rental rate on Thanksgiving is $ 415, a 58% increase from 2019, and the average Christmas rates in 2021 are $ 599, which is an increase. considerable from its average of US $ 332 / night in 2019.
All of which means that the long-awaited Thanksgiving family reunion at a luxurious vacation rental, valuable as it may be, could seriously affect your vacation budget.
Tourists are finally coming back, but the US hotel and tourism industry is still struggling to fill millions of jobs for cashiers, front desk staff, housekeepers and other employees who left the industry to work elsewhere.
As a result, customers may notice longer check-in lines and reduced amenities like daily housekeeping.
In light of that widespread labor shortage, Tricoci encouraged travelers accustomed to the high level of customer service that the U.S. hospitality industry has traditionally been known for to manage their expectations, a sentiment from the echoed by many of his peers.
At the same time, he noted that the imminent arrival of foreign guests offers another incentive for the industry to adjust to the staff shortage.
"At the end of the day, they are traveling, spending money and it is up to us to solve the problem," he tells CNN.
It can be difficult to find rental vehicles for visitors to Florida and other popular destinations.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images
Rental cars are also in short supply
Visitors yearning for a quintessential American road trip (or just an extra layer of protection against coronavirus exposure) may have to slow down those plans, because of a car shortage that experts warn could be problematic again this winter. especially in hot weather destinations like Florida and Hawaii.
Michael Meyer, President of Rate-Highway, which provides real-time rate management intelligence for car rentals, advises anyone who needs a rental car to book as early as possible and, if possible, pay in advance, noting that the ongoing supply shortage is likely to continue.
increased demand from international customers.
"Prepaid is not a 100% guarantee, but most carriers will prioritize these types of rentals over pay-on-arrival rentals," Meyer told CNN by email.
Latin America joins the trend of "vaccine tourism"
Navigating different (and confusing) health standards and protocols
A key resource for anyone planning to travel to the US: the county-level coronavirus data tracker from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which provides useful data on case numbers in specific counties , as well as local mandates and hospitalizations.
More difficult to understand, however, are the different state regulations for vaccination and mask requirements.
And the mandates are common at the city level, too: Places like New York City, San Francisco, and New Orleans have their own vaccination requirements for certain interior spaces, including restaurants.
Restaurants in New Orleans and other cities in the US require proof of vaccination.
Mario Tama / Getty Images
In federally regulated spaces such as airports and airplanes, masks are mandatory, as well as in regional and local transportation such as trains and subways.
But the actual application in places like hotels is difficult to assess from afar, which is where a travel advisor or agent can be invaluable.
"As a travel consultant, my job is to be able to measure my client's comfort level and get to know not only the destination, but the properties themselves," said Maria Diego, co-founder of Miami-based luxury travel agency Diego Travel. .
"Who has taken this downtime to renovate and innovate versus who has let things deteriorate? I can keep up with what hotels are actually enforcing, because I have access to agencies that are constantly doing site inspections. One one thing is that they put their policies on their website and another thing is to put them into practice ".
Limited options to get tested for covid-19
Many Europeans are used to quick, inexpensive (or free) COVID-19 testing, with multiple testing centers in major cities.
And while testing capacity is expanding in the US, including at-home options, it's not nearly as convenient, especially in rural areas, as some foreign visitors may be used to.
Planning ahead is imperative to get the necessary test results in the right time before a return trip.
Covid-19 cases reported daily
Additionally, foreign visitors should remember that all passengers, including children two years of age and older, entering the US must also submit a negative test.
That's a marked difference from many countries in Europe and elsewhere, which generally exempt children under 12 years of age.
Also, don't forget that with the rise of the delta variant, the EU in early September removed the US from its list of safe countries, with some countries imposing a ban on non-essential travel from there.
As a result, travelers returning to their home countries from the US may be subject to quarantines, additional testing, or other potential complications.
What are the restrictions on US travelers imposed by the European Union?
Flexibility is still key
As celebrated as the news of the relaxation of U.S. entry restrictions has been for the travel industry, its related complexities underscore a point that industry experts continue to emphasize: No matter where they go, travelers must stay as flexible as possible (booking refundable airfare, accommodation, and other expenses) and informed (abiding by the rules).
"Changes can happen in the blink of an eye," Michelle Couch-Friedman, executive director of the nonprofit consumer advocacy organization Elliott Advocacy, tells CNN.
"Even if the US intends, at least from now on, to allow the entry of vaccinated international travelers from November, there is no guarantee that it will actually materialize or for how long. If the covid taught us anything , is to be prepared for the unexpected. "