European countries such as Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, and Italy are finally reopening their doors to international travelers. Among these European nations, Spain has started accepting international passengers since June 7. Other countries open for U.S. tourists include The Bahamas, Croatia, Brazil, and Costa Rica.
For travel junkies, this is thrilling news. Finally, they can go ahead and explore a foreign land, gain new experiences, and meet new friends.
Yet, despite this positive development, traveling has forever changed and has a whole new meaning. Traveling safely and responsibly has a different context compared to what it meant before.
It’s not just about drinking in moderation while in a different country, or not driving under the influence of alcohol. It’s not just about being cautious when walking in a dark, unfamiliar street of a new place as a solo traveler. It’s also not just about using protection if you’re planning to hook up with a stranger in an exotic country.
Nowadays, traveling safely and responsibly means being aware that whenever you go to a new place, you have to be conscious that you might be a potential carrier of the coronavirus.
A traveler’s responsibility
Awareness is one of the most important factors to get you prepared for a safe and responsible trip. Being aware of safety protocols before you travel saves you from the drama that you might encounter when you reach the airport without the proper documents.
Yes. Aside from your passport, you need other documents to reach your destination. Before going to another country, the first thing you need to do is check your destination’s guidelines and restrictions. Create a checklist so you won’t forget anything.
But even before leaving the US, there is one major thing you need to do before anything else.
The Center for Disease and Control Prevention reminds everyone that before traveling internationally, you have to be vaccinated and show proof that you got the job. The New York Times mentions this as a vaccine passport.
Get vaccinated not only because it is a requirement but it makes traveling safe not just for you but for the people you are traveling with. People who have been vaccinated will also worry less about getting cramped inside an airplane with other passengers.
No, this is not about getting an HIV test, although it is important too. This is about getting covid tested before you travel. Getting a negative result from COVID-19 is an important requirement for people who have not yet received the vaccine.
But the CDC still recommends getting vaccinated before any international travel. Traveling with a negative RT-PCR test is only advisable for people who have important matters to attend to and cannot delay. Necessary travel reasons include those that are related to medical concerns, educational purposes, or emergency response, to name a few.
When in Rome
Once you have successfully passed the immigration counter and entered the plane, congratulations! Your travel adventure is ready to begin! But your responsibility as a good citizen of the world doesn’t end yet.
At the plane, follow flight protocols. That means wearing a mask and a face shield when the flight attendant tells you to. If people are not following the rules, this is not the time to apply the saying, “When in Rome, do what Romans do.”
Do not– I repeat– do not follow others toward the wrong path. Instead, encourage them to do as you do, wearing the mask and shield as necessary in an enclosed space with not much social distance.
Also, when you reach your destination, it might be tempting to fully enjoy the place and go to parties. European parties are especially great. But resist the temptation. As much as you can, avoid gathering in big groups.
Why? Because going to a party with a huge crowd only puts all your effort from the airport to the plane to waste. You might say, it’s fine, I’ve been vaccinated. But vaccination is not an absolute protection from coronavirus.
Reuters mentions that vaccine makers Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna said their vaccines’ efficacy rate is around 95% while Britain’s AstraZeneca has a 70% average efficacy rate. If you’ve ever watched FRIENDS, you’ll probably remember why Rachel got pregnant. It’s because the condom is only 97% effective. That should serve as a warning when it comes to any drugs, and it doesn’t exclude vaccines.
There is a big chance that the virus will forever be a part of our lives, just like a cold virus is. But there are ways to live with it while keeping everyone safe. As much as it is fun to travel and mingle with other people, with every privilege comes responsibility.