As summer 2021 draws near, more and more people are looking toward travel – especially after more than a year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are also looking beyond road trips and are ready to once again see the world.
As of May 9, 2021 the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports 1,707,805 people have passed through their security checkpoints vs the same date in 2020, which was only 200,815 individuals. A far cry from the early days of the pandemic. And although countries around the world are beginning to open up, such as the more than 75 as recently noted by U.S. News & World Report, mandated precautions are in place to keep everyone safe. So, below is a reminder of everything you need to remember when traveling in the near future.
Whether traveling domestically or overseas, having proper identification is not only required, but will also make your trip go a lot smoother. Identification credentials come in all shapes and sizes depending on who you are and where you are going. From a passport to Merchant Marine credentials to a driver’s license, the TSA allows a variety of options.
In terms of a passport, don’t wait until the last minute to submit an application for a new or renewed passport. Due to COVID protocols, there are a limited number of in-person processing appointments available each day across the country. Currently* the State Department is suggesting expedited service (for an additional fee) if you are in need of your passport in less than 10-12 weeks for international travel. Don’t forget – Beginning May 3, 2023, state issued driver’s license will need to be REAL ID compliant, otherwise it will not be considered an acceptable form of ID. If you are fully vaccinated, be sure to keep your vaccination card safe, as it provides proof of your vaccination and may soon be an additional required form of required identification for travel.
Restrictions on what you can bring through airport security checkpoints still exist, but have changed most likely since the last time you traveled. It’s important you know what they are at the time of your travels. If you are taking more than one trip over the summer, be sure to check the TSA guidelines each time as they do sometimes change. Per the TSA website, “the final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”
Planes, Trains, and Cruises
With the implementation of TSA enhanced health and safety guidelines due to COVID-19, air travelers are required to keep six feet apart within the airport, must wear a mask at all times (and aboard the plane due to federal law), and are asked to wash their hands frequently. The TSA has also increased their cleaning efforts over the high-touch surfaces at security checkpoints, in an effort to keep travelers and their employees safe. At the current time, travelers are also allowed to carry up to 12 oz. of hand sanitizer in their carry-on bags. If you are concerned about which airport to travel through, TSA offers a real-time update on COVID-19 airport identified cases throughout the country. And, according to the CDC, it is recommended you postpone travel until you are fully vaccinated, so as not to spread COVID-19 any further.
If traveling by train, Amtrak also requires social-distancing, federally-mandated mask-wearing, and requires passengers not travel aboard their trains if experiencing COVID-like symptoms. The good news is that as of May 23, 2021, Amtrak is waiving any and all change fees for trips booked through September 6, 2021 – so get those trips planned!
If you are looking to once again board a cruise ship, there are some cruise lines that are ready to push off and set sail mid-summer. Whether you prefer Princess, Carnival, Viking, Holland America, Norwegian, or one of the many other cruise lines, there are some great deals out there right now through the fall. There is an active conditional sailing order in place, whereby “With the issuance of these documents, cruise ship operators now have all the necessary requirements and recommendations they need to start simulated voyages before resuming restricted passenger voyages,” said the CDC in a released statement.
Also, important to note, if you are traveling outside of the United States, there are different COVID-19 restrictions depending on your final destination. From the need to present a negative COVID test prior to your departure, as well as one while on site in some cases (including quarantine upon arrival) and before your return flight back to the states.
Whether you are ready to travel by ground, air, or even sea – summer travel is right around the corner, so don’t delay. Plus, don’t forget to book your ground transportation with Dav El|BostonCoach who will get you there safely, professionally, and reliably.