To Stay or Go? Even With Vaccines, Travel Planning Remains Complicated

Kristin Botuchis booked the tickets last month, almost on impulse. Two round-trip seats to London from Seattle for $1,200 in July; the perfect start to a dreamy European vacation that would include France, Italy and Greece. She found herself clicking through the Icelandic Air website and entering her information, “just to see what would happen.”“My husband was definitely caught off guard. He would never pick this time to travel,” she said, admitting she hadn’t done much research beforehand. “It was a little impulsive on my part.”Ms. Botuchis lives in Everett, Wash., with her husband and two children. She is turning 50 this year and celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary. She is also one of millions of Americans who, after a 2020 full of lockdowns and anxiety, are eager to get back to normal and back out into the world. But since that initial flush of possibility, of those daydreams of the French Riviera, Ms. Botuchis now worries that the pandemic realities of closed borders, quarantine requirements, uncertain vaccine access and her husband’s uneasiness will derail the trip from happening at all.“I was trying to make this leap, and make this dream trip happen,” she said. “But I started to realize that this may not be the trip I envisioned.”
Welcome to the next phase of travel in a pandemic world: the post-vaccine era. Or maybe the mid-vaccine era is more accurate.Vaccine rollouts are bringing hope to travelers antsy to explore, as are scattered liftings of pandemic lockdowns nationally and around the world. But travel planning remains far from simple. Vaccine supply remains limited almost everywhere, distribution is confusing and questions remain regarding their efficacy in preventing transmission. Family members and friends may have different timelines for receiving a vaccine. On top of all that, news about the spread of variants is worrisome and international travel remains head-scratchingly confusing with restrictions and testing requirements (If Ms. Botuchis left tomorrow, she would not be able to enter France or Italy without proving an essential reason for her visit. Even if she opted to fly only to London, she would be required to undergo, and pay for, a mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine). And don’t forget that your favorite travel partner may have a different level of comfort regarding travel than you.

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