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Mastering the New CDC Rules: What to Know Before You Travel

If the CDC’s new travel requirements are throwing you for a loop, read on to find out how to plan ahead and take that much-needed vacation without worry.

The key to passing any test is being prepared. And in the case of travel, that means brushing up on the negative COVID-19 test requirement put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for anyone flying into the U.S. from abroad.

Pouring over FAQs can be time-consuming and confusing, and scrolling Facebook for accurate answers frustrating. But with this “study guide” to break it all down, you can rest at ease knowing that when you arrive on a beautiful beach somewhere tropical, you won’t worry for a second about getting back home.

Like any guide worth its salt, we’ve broken ours up into sections, detailing what to do before you leave; once you’ve arrived; and after you’re home for a safe, peaceful vacation.

1. Check Your Documents … Then Check Them Again

A 101 rule for any vacation, once you receive your ALG Vacations™ eDocs, check them over carefully. Be sure names are spelled correctly and that the dates, hotel, transfers, and add-ons are what you booked.

If you purchased travel protection, read the full terms and conditions so you know exactly what is and isn’t covered. You’ll also want to read provided details on your destination or travel in general, like the latest CDC requirements.

Pro-tip: If anything is incorrect or raises a red flag, reach out to your travel agent immediately—not the day you leave.

2. Have All Results In Hand

While most destinations currently require a negative COVID-19 test, prerequisites for arrival will depend on where you’re headed. Bear in mind that even if a test isn’t required, the CDC still recommends getting tested 1 – 3 days before traveling. So don’t wait to schedule that appointment!

If your trip is for less than 3 days, you’ll have an added benefit: taking a viral test before you leave fulfills the new CDC testing requirement as long as you return home before the 72-hour window has passed.

But what if you’ve already had COVID-19? If you were diagnosed within the last three months, are symptom-free, and have finished quarantining, you’ll need:

  • Your positive test result.
  • A written “document of recovery” from your doctor or a public health official clearing you to end isolation. It does NOT need to specifically mention travel.

If it’s been longer than three months, normal testing policies would apply. Same for anyone who has been vaccinated.

Pro-tip: Make your results accessible! If you have a printout, keep several copies, including in your carry-on and with your passport. If you have a digital version, download it to your phone so that you can pull it up even if there’s no WiFi. 

3. Know the Rules

It’s just as important to be aware of the rules you’ll be coming back to as the ones you’re going into. In order to avoid unexpected snags, familiarize yourself with your state’s health and safety guidelines, which you can find at usa.gov/state-health.

Remember, with so many factors in the mix these days, regulations can change quickly; check your state site regularly to stay in the know.

Pro-tip: Nervous about guideline changes—or anything else—affecting your trip? Opt for ALG Vacations’ Travel Protection Plus coverage when booking. Cancel for any reason, change without brand fees, and get up to $3,000 per person in trip delay coverage in case you need to quarantine at your hotel.

4. Don’t Forget the Safety Supplies

Masks and hand sanitizer will be your constant companions on your getaway. Most hotels will have an abundance of the latter, but when it comes to the former, pack plenty of extra.

Masks shouldn’t be worn for more than a day at most, and doing laundry or making a mad dash to the hotel store isn’t how you want to be spending your precious vacation. By having a full stock, you can change masks as frequently as needed. Plus, with Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases Dr. Fauci’s recent suggestion, doubling up each time you mask up means going through your supply more quickly.

Pro-tip: If you pack reusable masks, bring a separate bag where you can store them after wearing. This will prevent germs from getting on other items in your suitcase.

5. Talk to Your Advisor

There’s a reason (or a hundred) you booked with a travel advisor. Your agent is connected to all the latest information from ALG Vacations: resort updates, destination news, federal guidelines. If at any time you’re unsure about something related to your trip, don’t hesitate and don’t wait; reach out!

Pro-tip: One week before you leave for your getaway, reach out to your advisor with any final questions or concerns.

With that, you’re now vacation-ready, and this section of your travel study guide is complete. So go ahead and focus on what awaits: relaxing on a picture-perfect beach, care-free.

Up next, we’ll cover the five things you need to do in-destination before heading home!

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