The COVID-19 vaccines that are now available can be taken away from home. After all, government officials say traveling is a low-risk activity for those who are vaccinated.
But the amount of preparation you need to travel during an epidemic can convince you to stay consistent. Airlines, hotels և navigation lines discuss the use of so-called vaccine passports, which are essentially digital barcodes that prove you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 before you can sponsor their business. It is your job to discover what that is and to bring it about.
Then, in addition to the usual rigmarol, making a route, ordering a foreign SIM card, downloading maps, you will have to do even more research on your destination, for example, looking for possible quarantine restrictions, reading the level of infections. And if you booked a trip much earlier, be prepared to do all that research again just before you leave, as the situation tends to change.
“One thing you have to navigate is the fluctuating environment in terms of test or vaccine requirements, even the boundaries that can be opened very quickly and then closed again,” said Henry Harteldt, co-founder of the Atmosphere Research Group in San Francisco. “For the rest of this year, we need to be ready for a very dynamic, very fluid international travel environment.”
But some of us will be traveling this year because of work or an emergency. So here is a special edition of how to use technology to prepare for your trip.
Do your research online
Before booking a plane ticket և hotel, check the requirements of your destination. The most reliable places to find this information are on your travel and tourism sites.
Here are some examples of how difficult it is to navigate.
Domestic travel, for the most part, does not require tests or evidence of vaccines, but Hawaii is an exception. The website of the Hawaiian Islands Tourism Authority states that there is a 10-day quarantine, even for vaccinated travelers. But you can avoid quarantine if you test negative for COVID before you leave. The test result must come from one of the reliable test providers in Hawaii, which can be found in the list published online.
Broadly speaking, Americans are not yet welcomed in many countries, and vice versa. And in the rare case of being able to fly to another country, logistics will be more difficult.
If you are traveling from the United States to Turkey, you will need a COVID-19 negative entry test, according to the US Embassy in Turkey. And to return to the United States, all travelers, including US citizens և vaccinated, will have to retest the test within three days of departure.
Once you figure out what logistics to get in and out of, you will have more homework to do. Do not expect your favorite airport restaurants or lounges to function properly. Before leaving the house, check your airport website to see what is open near your terminal. If you do not have the options, pack a meal. Likewise, when you reach your destination, be sure to check out the sites for the restaurants and tourist attractions you hope to visit during their hours. Travel tourism industry is far from returning to normal.
Continue with vaccine passports
To make your travel experience smoother, airlines may require travelers to present a vaccine passport, a digital document proving their vaccination. Airlines have tested mobile health apps, including CommonPass, ICC AOKpass, VeriFLY and the International Air Transport Association’s Route Plan to ensure travelers can submit their health information in a safe, verifiable way.
Most app programs will theoretically work this way. If you are getting vaccinated at a medical facility, the application is linked to that facility’s database for your information. The application then downloads a QR code, which is a digital barcode, to verify vaccine use. You can then show that barcode at the airport check-in counter, boarding gate or immigration check.
Hartveldt says a lot of vaccine passports are still in the air. Airlines, government agencies and cruise lines are still testing programs to find out which products are more reliable and easy to use. It can be confusing if different parties require people to download different passport programs և many attempts may fail. Vaccine passports have sparked a heated political debate over the legality of claiming digital credentials for a voluntary vaccine. (The Biden administration has stated it will not tighten mandatory vaccination credentials or the federal vaccine database.)
So the best we can do with vaccine passports right now is nothing. Do not upload your data to any application yet, but when it comes time to travel, check your airline’s vaccine passport updates և Follow the instructions.
Get your phone ready
The rest of your travel technology training will be basically the same as it was before COVID. Pack a spare battery pack, charging cable, and safety pin to remove your SIM card. Then do the following.
– Unlock your phone. Your phone must be unlocked to work with foreign SIM cards. Many newer smartphones are unlocked by default, but you should call your carrier to confirm that your device will work with other wireless carriers.
– Buy a foreign SIM card. If you are traveling abroad, you can avoid paying expensive international roaming charges to your carrier by temporarily using a foreign phone plan. When you reach your destination, you can usually buy a SIM card at the airport or at a mobile phone store և insert it into your phone. You can also order a SIM card online, deliver it to your home before traveling. (Some newer smartphones work with eSIM, which is essentially a digital SIM card to add a separate phone plan. I’ve had mixed experiences, including eSIMs that failed to activate when I reached my destination, so I prefer I have physical SIMs).
– Download maps ahead of time. You never know when a mobile service will be trusted at your destination, so it is best to visit an unfamiliar place before downloading online maps. With online maps, you save data on your device. This way, if you are wandering around accepting transparent cells, your maps application will still be able to show you directions to your destination. This can be helpful if you are wandering around a mottled area.
Here is an example of downloading Maui online maps. Open Google Maps on your iPhone or Android phone. Look for a place in, say, Haleakala National Park. Click Haleakala National Park inside. Then click on the “more” button (icon with three dots) and select “download online map”. Zoom in or out to select the area of the map you want to save և click “Download”.
There is a simpler way to skip many of the above. While you wait for the world to open up to travel, go on a journey. Just do not forget to wrap the mask.