With coronavirus vaccines becoming more widely available and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently clearing fully vaccinated people for travel, many of us are eager to start planning our first post-pandemic trips. Countries are once again welcoming international visitors, too—some, with unique rules for vaccinated travelers—but there’s still a lot to consider before deciding to travel to another part of the world.
For one, vaccine distribution continues to be uneven, with poorer countries receiving and administering fewer COVID-19 vaccines than wealthier countries. And though fully vaccinated travelers are largely protected from the virus themselves, it’s still not clear the extent to which they can spread the virus to others.
“Once an individual or group gets vaccinated, there’s this great sense of relief that they’re protected and wanting immediately to get back to normal, but we have to recognize that other people are still vulnerable,” says Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System. “Even though you’re protected, by traveling, you could still be a vector for spreading the virus to others. We really have a global obligation to protect each other and work together.”
For those who decide to travel, health officials recommend waiting at least two weeks after becoming fully vaccinated and diligently following COVID-19 precautions like wearing masks, social distancing, hand-washing, and avoiding crowds. Fully vaccinated people do not need to self-quarantine after returning to the U.S. (unless it’s required by state or local rules), but all travelers still need a negative COVID-19 test to board flights to the U.S. The CDC also recommends vaccinated travelers getting tested three to five days after international trips.
With the health and safety of local communities in mind, for now, avoid traveling to countries with high infection rates, low vaccination rates, and overwhelmed medical infrastructure—all factors that can fluctuate rapidly. The CDC regularly updates its list of travel recommendations by destination, which categorizes countries by their local COVID-19 risk level: low, moderate, high, and very high.
“It’s really important to think about the burden on the health system,” says Maragakis. “While countries may welcome the income from tourism, additional cases can tip over a fragile health system.”
Those considerations in mind, we’ve rounded up a few destinations that we’re looking to for post-vaccination trips. Travel guidelines continue to change, so travelers should check their destination country’s official government websites—and the CDC website—regularly before and during any trip. You may also want to consider purchasing travel insurance. In addition to rules about COVID-19 vaccination and testing, all of the below countries require travelers to follow local public health guidelines. Read on for the places to travel after your COVID vaccine.
Countries that are open to vaccinated travelers
Seychelles, the small Indian Ocean nation made up of more than 100 islands off the east coast of Africa, is now open to all travelers, vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. (One exception: visitors from South Africa are still barred from entry due to the variant.) Sylvestre Radegonde, Seychelles’ tourism minister, says the country is reopening because it has successfully implemented an aggressive vaccination campaign among residents.