Better Business Bytes: Vaccinated and ready to travel?

By Keylen Villagrana
For The Cordova Times

As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be distributed and everything starts to open back up, more people are comfortable enough to start planning summer vacations. Or have already started traveling for Spring Break. But the pandemic isn’t over yet, and there are still multiple risks associated with traveling – both to your health and your wallet.

Furthermore, expect even more strict complications if you are traveling internationally. Certain countries have temporarily banned American travelers and “vaccine passports” are currently being explored by the private and non-profit sector.

If you are planning a getaway this spring or summer, Better Business Bureau recommends the following tips to minimize the risk:

Research travel restrictions. Travel restrictions vary by state and country and are constantly changing. Visit the U.S. State Department’s “Know Before You Go” page and the CDC Travel Planner to get up-to-date information on COVID-19 related travel restrictions as you plan your trip and as your travel dates approach.

Understand the risk of purchasing discounted tickets. There are plenty of deals on flights. Unfortunately, discounted tickets rarely provide refunds and will likely charge you if you cancel or reschedule your flight. Be willing to pay extra for fully refundable flights, car rentals, and accommodations.

Understand what travel insurance covers. CNBC reminds travelers that purchasing travel insurance is wise, but it may not cover every situation. You have the option to add insurance directly with the airline when you purchase your ticket or purchase travel insurance from a third party. They are not one and the same and the level of coverage varies, so choose the plan that you are most comfortable with. Read the fine print to understand how your policy works. You may also hire a travel agent to help you navigate the process.

Make flexible travel plans. Flexibility is key during the pandemic. Your plans may change last-minute due to an unexpected lockdown or infection. Try to avoid a tight schedule if you can and be prepared in case you are unexpectedly stranded.

Take precautions before and after your trip. During the 14 days leading up to your trip, avoid situations that could put you at risk for infection, such as attending large group events or using public transportation, recommends the CDC. Then, get tested with a viral test one-three days before you travel and keep a copy of your negative test results with you. After your trip, get tested again three-five days after arriving home and make plans to self-quarantine for seven days after travel, regardless of your test results.

Always do your research. Before doing business or making a purchase, always research the company at bbb.org. Look for things like any possible complaints, and customer reviews.

Keylen Villagrana writes for Better Business Bureau Great West + Pacific.