The apps and websites you need to travel abroad during Covid and reopening

Now that Covid-19 restrictions are easing for vaccinated tourists in Europe and elsewhere, you may have international summer travel in view. But it won’t be business as usual.

Depending on where you go, expect wildly fluctuating prices, new testing and vaccination rules, and even varying mask specs. (Sorry, Air France

will not your pretty homemade face covering.)

“You’re going to have another item on your pre-checklist. But the payoff is being able to visit some of these most iconic tourist destinations with a fraction of the summer crowds, ”said Scott Keyes, author of“ Take More Vacations ”and founder of price tracking website Scott’s Cheap Flights. He says international travel is down 60% overall from 2019, although some places are starting to see a slight increase in tourism.

To navigate pandemic era travel, here are a few apps and websites that can help streamline the process.

Consult the CDC’s Covid-19 advisory for your destination. Before flying, it’s a good idea to consider the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. country orientation for traveling. Currently, the CDC recommends international travel only for fully vaccinated people—Those for whom two weeks have passed since their last dose of vaccine.

Consult the entry conditions. Google Travel links to official government websites detailing entry requirements. (Go to google.com/voyage and search for the destination country.) The travel website Sherpa has a tool that displays entry conditions and restrictions, depending on your country of origin, connections, final destination and vaccination status. Every detail includes a link to an official source. The Delta Air Lines website has a Discover the menu which details the airline’s entry requirements for specific countries, and a Trip Planning Center listing all international destinations currently open to travel.

Delta’s Discover Card is an interactive, color-coded guide showing which countries are open to visitors and detailing entry requirements.


Photo:

Nicole Nguyen / The Wall Street Journal

Create digital scans. For many destinations, you will need a hard copy of your vaccination card as proof of vaccination to enter the area. My next flight to Germany from California, via Lufthansa,

accept it printed card or a digital copy of it. Either way, it’s a good idea to store a digital backup.

If you have an iPhone, you can use the document scanner built into the Notes app. Create a new note, tap the camera icon and select Scan documents. Name the note “Covid-19 Vaccination Card” so that it is easy to find. You can also pin the note to stay at the top of the screen by tapping the three dots in the right corner.

Microsoft Lens, free on both ios and Android, is a scanning application that can scan printed or handwritten text.

Scan your vaccination card using the document scanner built into your iPhone’s Notes app: start a new note, tap the camera icon, select Scan documents.


Photo:

Nicole Nguyen / The Wall Street Journal

Walgreens patients can access a copy of their immunization records on the company’s website. If you have been vaccinated at Walmart or Sam’s Club, you can download Health pass by Clear (free, iOS and Android) to access your digital records. You will need to agree to share your vaccination history with the app on the Walmart website. If you lose your card, contact your state’s Immunization Information System (IIS). The CDC lists links to IIS of each state on its website.

Search on Google, then book directly. “The open secret in the travel world is that there is no single search site that will offer the cheapest fares,” Keyes said. “Choose the user experience that’s right for you. “

He uses Google Flights to look for, because it is “the easiest and the fastest”. The site also gives you a pre-populated link to book directly with the airline, which is good practice, he says. If something is wrong with your flight, it is easier to deal with the airline rather than with a middleman.

Before you leave, check to see if you have an outstanding flight voucher with the airline, following delayed travel in the event of a pandemic. Many of these credits will expire this year. Mr. Keyes says many airlines will give you an extension if you call the customer service number and say you’re not comfortable with the trip yet.

Look for flexible bookings. The decision to eliminate international change fees is one of the silver liners of air travel in the era of the pandemic. Delta, United Airlines and American Airlines permanently waive fees, except with Basic Economy fares.

Travelers who search for flights using the App in the Air can filter the results based on health concerns, such as mask requirements, blocked middle seats, and free cancellation.


Photo:

Nicole Nguyen / The Wall Street Journal

Application in the air (free, iOS, and Android) has new “health filters” that let you see search results for airlines that offer flexible fares, impose face masks, or block middle seats.

Hopper (free, iOS and Android), a price tracking and booking app, may be a better option than direct booking for those who need more flexibility and are willing to pay for it. The Flexible Dates option in the app, which adds between 5% and 10% to the cost of the reservation, allows you to apply the value of your ticket, even if it is a Basic Economy ticket, to a new airport, date, time or another airline, up to 24 hours before departure. If you get stuck at customs or experience delays, the option to change your missed connection reservation (on average, $ 25 per passenger) will put you on the next plane to your destination, regardless of the airline, if you miss the original flight.

And for hotels, Google Travel hotel search and Airbnb have filters for accommodation with free cancellation. But beware: some reservations may charge more for a refundable rate.

Benefit from expedited check-in. Check if your airline has an online verification process. VeriFly is a health passport application used by American Airlines, Aer Lingus, British Airways,

Iberia and Japan Airlines.

Travelers can upload necessary documents on the app, such as negative Covid-19 test results or vaccination records. A spokeswoman for American Airlines said customers pre-approved using the app did not need to interact with an agent before boarding the plane.

United’s mobile app has a new section, called Travel-Ready Center, where leaflets can download records of vaccines or tests. Documents are verified through the app and travelers are immediately allowed to check-in.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

What travel apps do you use? Join the conversation below.

Find vaccination sites for the start of the school year. The United States currently requires that all inbound travelers on international flights, aged 2 years or older, have a negative Covid-19 test, even vaccinated. Google Maps Lists official test centers in many metropolitan areas; search for “Covid-19 Tests Near Me” to see the results. Delta sells Ellume Covid-19 home antigen tests ($ 50) on its website that can report the results to a paired smartphone and comply with US reporting requirements. A spokesperson said the kit can be purchased in advance, so flyers don’t need to locate a testing center overseas.

Write to Nicole Nguyen at [email protected]

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