Travel In the Time of Corona

Stay at home

Me “exploring” from my couch. Can’t you see my enthusiasm?

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post. Needless to say, I’ve not done any traveling since late January. I had high hopes for this year, but the ‘rona chewed us up and spit us out. I’d planned to go to Grenada with my husband (no longer fiancé as of November!) for some much needed R & R. Since this entire situation is unprecedented and so by the minute, I thought there was a glimmer of hope that things would improve by late May, when we were scheduled to leave. That didn’t happened.

I was cautiously optimistic that by late fall/early winter there would be opportunities to travel. That seems more and more like wishful thinking with each passing day. I live in New York City, which has gotten (somewhat) of a handle on COVID-19, so restaurants and stores have opened to some extent. Still, whether there’ll be indoor dining in the city come winter is anybody’s guess. Governor Cuomo says that New York City will begin indoor seating at restaurants on September 30th at 25% capacity and with strict regulations, such as temperate checks and no bar service. Businesses here are hurting a lot and many have not hung on. Neighboring Westchester County to the north has enjoyed limited indoor seating for nearly months now.

Because the virus has increased rapidly in other states, New York State has implemented a travel advisory. Travelers visiting the Tristate area (NY/NJ/CT) must fill out a mandatory form and quarantine for 14 days if arriving from the list of twenty-something restricted states and US territories (ones with high incidences of the virus.) Anyone entering New York without first filling out said form faces up to $2,000 in fines, though how heavily it’s being enforced remains to be seen. In New York City less than 1% of those tested for the virus turn out positive, which is, quite frankly, a victory from where we were in late spring; let’s hope it stays that way.

Where Can You Run To?

United States as a whole remains barred from travel abroad, with few exceptions. Traveling outside the US is daunting, as the countries that Americans are allowed to travel to and the entry requirements (almost all of which require a negative COVID test) are constantly in flux. Some countries, primarily Caribbean nations, have opened to Americans and quickly closed due to rising virus rates. Costa Rica, a unique case, will allow tourists only from states with low or controlled virus rates, most of which are in the Northeastern part of the United States. Despite testing now being widely available, rapid tests are still few and far between, and their accuracy questionable.

Should you decide to trek to one of the countries that sallow American visitors, finding a test center with a fast turnaround will be a challenge. As of this writing, I have friends and acquaintances whose results took anywhere from under 24 hours to over two months (!), as well as at least one who received a false positive (she was retested for both the virus and antibodies at another test site, both of which came back negative.) Some countries will issue a COVID test upon entry, but who wants to go through that and risk possibly being turned away or having to quarantine?

If you’re lucky enough to still be employed, the silver lining is that now is the time to save money, accrue vacation time, and regroup. Really desperate to get away? Here’s a list curated by The Points Guy with every country Americans may currently travel to.

If you can’t travel, how are spending your free time?