Stop Making Yourselves Crazy!
Adapting too early to changing Covid protocols is like walking in shifting sand
You've chosen to travel. You've booked your spot, gotten your insurance* (hopefully thru Ama with their great coverage and Worry Free Waiver), and now you have 6 months or more to wait. Yet, despite the trip still being a good ways off you can't help reading all the Covid protocols and wanting to prepare. Can you fly thru a certain airport without a test? Do you need an antigen test or a PCR test to enter country A, will it be accepted in country B? What do you need to fly home from country C? Where do you find the country entry forms? What to do? What to do?
Well, here is what you do... STOP! Stop right now. You are making yourselves nuts trying to plan for the future with the protocols and conditions of today. While it is natural to want to plan and prepare, there are things you should and shouldn't do while anticipating your future travel.
Unless you are traveling in the next 30 days, STOP READING COVID COUNTRY PROTOCOLS EVERY DAY! Stop inundating the airlines, embassies, travel professionals, or your travel provider with emails about travel that is 3-6 months to a year away. Not only is it impossible to give you an answer today that will still hold true in 3 months time, but it would be irresponsible to offer one beyond, "wait and see."
Clearly, it makes sense to keep an eye on the overall situation in places you are visiting, but if you remember how quickly things turned around in various countries from April to May, then turned again from June to July, and then again in August, it is entirely possible that things will once again be rosy in another month or so, and if it is not, it is still possible to make adjustments and changes closer in to your travel date.
So what SHOULD you do and WHEN?
First and foremost, MAKE SURE YOU ARE VACCINATED! Every rule, regardless of country, hinges on two things: whether or not you have an approved vaccine and whether or not you come from a variant country (meaning a country classified at the highest risk level because a variant version of Covid has become the dominant strain and the numbers have exceeded a certain threshold) or whether you are from a high risk, medium risk or low risk country of origin (which is where most countries fall).
Making sure that your vaccine is old enough to be effective is the one thing you can to during this time.
Once you approach 30 days from your date of travel is an appropriate time to get a feel for the current rules and regulations of the place you are traveling to. Understand that even at 30 days out, some things can adjust, so basically familiarize yourself with the current status.
Look at the date of the last posted Protocol decision from the EU, RKI, WHO, and/or the CDC and look to see when the next official date is for a new decision. I find the schengenvisainfonews.com to be an excellent source. The EU is currently making adjustments every 2 weeks and countries get listed and taken off the list with lightening speed: based on that country's current numbers.
Pay attention to the difference between a VARIANT country and a high risk one. While high risk countries have more stringent measures for those who are not vaccinated (and no Ama guests may board without one), it is only the countries listed as VARIANTS that are truly problematic. Even vaccinated travelers coming from a variant country (if allowed) will have to quarantine, yet vaccinated guests from merely high risk places will not. This is the key difference.
UNDERSTAND THAT JUST BECAUSE A COUNTRY IS ON THE EU LIST DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE COUNTRY YOU ARE TRAVELING TO WILL FOLLOW THE EU RECOMMENDATION!!!
The EU list is a recommendation, not a mandate. So when it comes to the final decision of whether or not you can actually go to a place, refer to that country's entry requirements (use Ama's Travel Advisory country list / link below).
The best recommendations is as follows (at least in my opinion):
Start at the website for your airline, along with Ama's Travel Advisory page. The airlines are responsible to advise their guests of the most up to date entry requirements for the destinations they fly to and to check the paperwork before boarding, so thats' Step 1. They will always have the most current information for those traveling within the next 14 days.
If your country of entry requires a registration form, like Spain or France or Germany, do the first step registry which is like opening an account (understanding that they will all want you to come back and complete the health portion of the form (if required) anywhere from 72 to 48 hours before your actual date and time of travel. DO NOT SEND IN ANY FORMS OUTSIDE THE DATES THAT THE COUNTRY ADVISES... it merely gums up the system and will get your application put aside and maybe even lost.
Today is a perfect example. Two to three weeks ago no one could have predicted that the US might be put on the Variant List and some EU borders possibly closed to US travelers. Even now as I type this, we are waiting to find out tomorrow if Americans will once again be suggested to be shut out of the EU because certain areas inside the States refuse to take responsible and active steps to fight Covid, resulting in a huge surge in numbers. Will this ban be for everyone? Will it just be for unvaccinated travelers as we all hope? Will the countries that Ama cruises thru follow the EU recommendation? We just have to wait and see.
Nothing we did 3 weeks ago would have prepared us for tomorrow's announcement, however, all of my currently booked guests for September are protected, prepared, and waiting to see how (and if) they can proceed. Those traveling in October or beyond have been counselled not to panic or make a knee-jerk reaction.
The best case scenarios will see them traveling as planned. Worst case, we move their trip to a new date or activate their Worry Free waiver. The key factor is that Ama and I keep ourselves informed and have our fingers on the pulse of the possible. We look at what is in front of us for the immediate travel dates and remain confident that the future will continue to develop in a positive fashion.
That is all we can do. Anything else would be needless worry because we can't control the future. We are not even trying.
* All of my advice is geared towards guests who have made sure to responsibly insure their trips. I highly, highly recommend Ama's Travel Guard insurance which has Covid coverage and a Worry Free cancellation waiver attached. Ask me for details if you have not yet protected yourselves and your trip.