Between flight delays and cancellations worldwide and rapidly changing travel restrictions, it’s an ominous start to 2022 for the travel community.
Navigating lengthy lists of requirements to travel, like I did to enter the Cayman Islands (including a 2.5-hour wait for a COVID-19 test in Fort Lauderdale), can require a lot of research and patience.
It would be nice to see more international coordination on entry requirements to make travel less unpredictable right now. But since that's unlikely to happen and neither COVID-19 nor its mitigation measures like masks and COVID-19 tests are going away, here is our New Year’s resolution for you:
Each Friday, we're going to round up travel news from the previous week you might have missed. We'll highlight the latest countries changing their travel requirements as well as best practices for planning your trip. I'll also throw in some non-COVID travel news because we all need a periodic reminder that in light of all that's going on, this world is still pretty fantastic.
My hope is that whether you choose to travel or decide to postpone your plans for a bit, you’ll find it a great weekly resource to keep up on travel-related news to make the best decision for you.
So without further ado, here’s a look at what happened around the world this week:
Travel restriction changes for the week ending January 7
Hong Kong banned flights from the US, UK and six other countries in an effort to get ahead of an outbreak of the Omicron variant. Hong Kong has imposed some of the strictest border measures in the world as it pursues a "Zero COVID" strategy to fight the virus.
The United States Department of State warned Americans traveling abroad to make contingency plans while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added Aruba to the list of countries it urges Americans to avoid. Also, in case you missed it over the holidays, travel by cruise ship also received the CDC’s strongest warning.
Meanwhile, several other countries rolled back pre-arrival testing requirements that were put in place in response to the discovery of the Omicron variant.
England scrapped its pre-arrival testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the requirement “meaningless” since the Omicron variant has spread so widely in the country. Post-arrival testing remains but starting January 9, visitors can choose the less expensive lateral flow test instead of a PCR test.
Hawaii is making it easier to travel. The Aloha state no longer requires visitors to fill out a health questionnaire 24 hours in advance. However, you still need to register with the Safe Travels Program in order to upload vaccination information to skip quarantine. Travelers then receive their QR code when their flight details are confirmed with the program. The state also cut its mandatory quarantine to 5 days to align with CDC recommendations.
For more information on COVID-19 and travel, check out Lonely Planet's Health Hub.
In other (non-COVID) travel news
National Park calendar alert: If you’re planning to visit the US National Parks this year, there are a few dates to add to your calendar. The National Parks Service released its list of “fee free days” for 2022. Also, here’s a helpful cheat sheet to enter the lottery to hike places like Angels Landing that require a permit.
Thailand's Maya Bay reopens: Well before the pandemic hit, Thailand abruptly closed the famous Maya Bay in 2018 due to the impact of overtourism on the natural environment. Now the bay, made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio movie “The Beach,” has reopened with new sustainability efforts designed to protect it from overuse.
Sleeper trains like it's 1999: My inner backpacker is thrilled to see sustainability driving sleeper trains to make a comeback. A sustainable and affordable way to see Europe, we saw yet another train line announce a new night train route this week. This one links Amsterdam, Berlin and Prague. Tickets go on sale in April for departures during summer 2022.
As we move forward in the new year, I'd love to hear what you'd like to see in this weekly roundup. If you have questions or topics you’d like our experts to address, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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