With the world slowly opening up after a year of lockdown and vaccine rollout underway, many travel-enthusiasts are looking to book that first trip in 2021. If the hills of San Francisco, the beaches of Miami, or the museums in New York are on your list of must-see attractions, you're probably wondering, "Can I travel to and within the United States right now" And the answer is: maybe. And also: Depends on where you're coming from.
We’ve tried to break it down here, with everything you need to know about booking a holiday in the United States, inlluding updated information on flights, rental cars, Airbnb and hotel stays, train services and more. Specific rules vary from state to state, but it's always a good idea to stick to the basics at the very least: wear a mask, wash your hands, and adhere to six-feet social distancing.
Can I travel to the United States?
Depends where you're coming from. Travel from the following countries is currently prohibited: China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and the majority of Europe—Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland. There are some exceptions, which you can find here.
Do I need to take a Covid test?
Anyone entering the United States (including U.S. citizens and those who have been vaccinated) will need to show a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three days of departure or documentation of recovery from a COVID-19 infection within the last 90 days.
Can I travel to different states within the U.S.?
The 50 states that make up the USA are all in various stages of reopening and many states (including the most popular vacation destinations) are requiring travelers to self quarantine or present a negative COVID-19 test when visiting. Do you research before you head across state lines and consult this list of states that are requiring travelers to self quarantine for 14 days or present a negative COVID-19 test when visiting.
Accomodations in the U.S.
Can I book an Airbnb?
Big time. The company announced an optional protocol earlier this year which includes a 40-page manual on proper cleaning practices and at least 24 hours between rentals.
Can I stay in a hotel?
Yup, as many are indeed open. Iinitiatives such as electrostatic sprayers for cleaning, contactless check-ins and shutterings of communal areas like buffets are in effect at many hotels. Be sure to call the hotel to learn about their cleaning and check-in policies.
If you're wondering if it's safe to stay in a hotel, we asked an expert.
Transportation in the U.S.
Can I use Uber, Lyft or other ride-hailing apps?
Absolutely. As we discussed, ride-hailing services are requiring all drivers to wear masks and passengers to sit in the back seat, with windows rolled down.
Can I rent a car?
For sure. As detailed in USA Today, many car-rental companies, including Hertz, Rival Enterprise, Avis Budget and Dollar Thrifty, have instituted new, strict cleaning guidelines for their vehicles. Be sure to consult individual companies about their processes and check those against CDC cleaning recommendations.
Can I take a train or bus?
Yes, trains and buses such as those operated by Amtrak are currently running across the United States with Covid-19 measures in place such as mask wearing and social distancing.
Can I take a cruise?
No, cruise lines have not resumed operations in the United States and most lines will remain closed until June or July 2021.
International travel from the U.S.
Can I travel to Mexico?
Technically no. Travel restrictions between the U.S. and Mexico have been extended through April 2021 and non-essential travel is currently prohibited at the land border. Only those working in essential services and citizens/residents returning home will be allowed to cross the border. Read more about it here. That said, tourists have been traveling to resort destinations such as Cancun throughout the past year. Air travel is allowed (albeit on a limited schedule) and hotels are operating at reduced capacity. There are currently no restrictions to entering Mexico via air and no mandatory quarantine upon arrival.
Can I travel to Canada?
Probably not. Travel is strictly limited to "essential travel" and only four major airports are currently accepting international flights: Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Those who do qualify for entry into Canada, will need proof of a negative PCR or RT-LAMP test conducted no more than 72 hours before their scheduled boarding, if traveling by air. Travelers may also be subjected to additional testing upon landing and all arrivals must quarantine for 14 days. If you're planning to drive to Canada, you'll still need to qualify as "essential travel" and you'll need proof of a negative Covid-19 test result taken in the United States within 72 hours arrival at the border.
Can I travel to the Caribbean?
That's a big yes. Most of the countries in the Caribbean are open to tourists who are willing to be tested before departure. Here's what each island requires from visitors who are thinking of hoping on a flight this year.