May is usually the last chance of the spring travel season to cut travel costs and avoid the summer vacation crowds. While the omicron BA.2 sub-variant remains a threat, many international destinations have eased restrictions to attract foreign visitors.
United States Travel Restrictions
There have been no significant changes to US domestic travel guidelines since April 2022. No states have mandatory quarantines or proof of vaccine requirements.
Additionally, many cities and counties have ended their indoor mask mandates. For example, Philadelphia briefly reinstated its mandate in late April but suspended it a week later.
While there won’t be sweeping masking requirements from states and cities like there were in early 2022, individual businesses and tourist attractions can still require patrons to wear masks. .
TSA Mask Mandate
The most significant travel requirement facing domestic travelers is the suspension of the TSA’s mask mandate. Travelers should always keep a mask near their boarding pass and photo ID. Commercial travel providers and transportation hubs may still require travelers age two and older to also wear masks.
For example, of the four airports in New York, JFK, La Guardia and Stewart still require masks. However, masks are optional at Newark International Airport in New Jersey.
Masks are also optional at almost all major US airports. However, some airlines may require the wearing of a mask for international flights. The optional masking also applies to commercial travel by train, bus and boat in most cases.
While most commercial travel providers made masks optional starting April 19, 2022, the CDC is asking the Justice Department to appeal the court’s decision. A successful appeal may reinstate the federal mask requirement.
Only fully immunized travelers can visit Canada by air, land or sea. A pre-arrival test is no longer necessary. The only unvaccinated travelers who can enter without quarantine are eligible children under 12 accompanying vaccinated parents or guardians.
Latin American entry requirements remain a patchwork of strict and lenient guidelines. Mexico remains the most lenient as the country has no mandatory testing or vaccination certification. Costa Rica has similar guidelines to Mexico.
Argentina also has no testing or vaccination requirements. However, travelers must have travel insurance for their stay.
Countries with mandatory testing for the unvaccinated
These countries have no restrictions for fully vaccinated people but require a negative test for unvaccinated:
Other notable destinations like Brazil and Colombia are closed to the unvaccinated.
The Caribbean remains a favorite location for international travel. After all, these island nations are easily accessible from the United States and have pristine beaches.
Here are the entry requirements for some of the most visited islands.
Entry requirements to the Bahamas are average for the region. They are not too restrictive but remain cautious to protect travelers and locals.
To begin with, both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers must have a negative pre-arrival test. However, vaccinated adults and children (vaccinated and unvaccinated) have more testing options.
Beyond pre-arrival testing requirements, visitors must obtain a Bahamas travel visa. The visa application fee also provides mandatory travel insurance for travel dates.
The Dominican Republic has minimum entry requirements. No pre-arrival testing or proof of vaccination is required, but airport authorities may conduct random entry testing.
Jamaica also has more lenient travel requirements than a few months ago. Travelers no longer need a pre-arrival test or a travel authorization form.
US citizens may consider traveling to Puerto Rico for a Caribbean getaway. First of all, it’s a domestic flight. Second, the territory no longer requires a mandatory pre-arrival test or proof of vaccination to enter.
US Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands requires domestic travelers to show proof of vaccination or test negative prior to arrival to enter. This requirement is similar to the now defunct Hawaii Safe Travels program.
Two popular European destinations make it easy for international visitors to visit.
As of May 1, 2022, Greece no longer requires proof of vaccination, negative pre-arrival test or proof of recent recovery to visit. However, a mask is still required on flights and at airports.
A growing number of Western European countries are applying similar travel guidelines that are still closest to pre-pandemic travel standards.
Some of the other countries that already have flexible entry requirements include:
- Czech Republic
Italy’s entry requirements are stricter than Greece’s, but a major barrier is being removed. Tourists no longer need to complete the EU Passenger Locator Form, which can be cumbersome.
Additionally, a national health pass (i.e. proof of vaccination) is now optional for restaurants and some indoor businesses that rely on tourism money. However, masks remain mandatory on commercial transport, such as public buses.
Despite these relaxed travel guidelines, unvaccinated travelers must test negative before arrival.
Other European countries
Some of the remaining most popular European destinations maintain their existing requirements. Here are the highlights for some countries:
- France: Fully vaccinated visitors can enter without testing. Unvaccinated travelers must test negative prior to arrival.
- Spain: Only fully vaccinated travelers are permitted entry and do not require a pre-arrival test.
- Germany: Fully vaccinated visitors can enter without testing. Unvaccinated travelers must test negative prior to arrival.
- Portugal: Fully vaccinated visitors can enter without testing. Unvaccinated travelers must test negative prior to arrival.
Of these four countries, Spain is the only one that does not accept unvaccinated or partially vaccinated visitors. An exception is travel to Spain for “compelling reasons”.
Traveling to Asia remains the most difficult region for tourism, as countries maintain strict entry requirements.
Thailand is probably the most accessible Asian country to visit as it ended two entry programs on May 1, 2022. Fully vaccinated visitors no longer need to participate in the “Test and Go” program, which requires a negative test before arrival.
Additionally, the country no longer enforces the Sandbox program which required travelers to quarantine at approved resorts. This abolition facilitates travel within the country for tourists.
The new non-quarantine program, in effect since May 1, 2022, applies to vaccinated travellers. These visitors only need to acquire a Thailand Pass and Covid-19 travel insurance for their travel dates.
Unvaccinated visitors will need to quarantine for five days, but may be able to waive this period with a negative test before arrival.
Australia is also open to tourism, and it’s now a little easier to visit without a potential quarantine. As of April 18, 2022, fully vaccinated travelers no longer need to test negative before arrival when coming by plane or cruise ship.
Regional travel guidelines may also apply but vary by state.
Unvaccinated travelers still cannot visit the Land Down Under.
Coming from a visa-exempt country, vaccinated workers and students can potentially visit New Zealand from May 1, 2022. The United States is currently on this travel list, but visitors must apply for a visa. Travel visa applications remain pending for general tourists until October 2022.
Although there are still restrictions on international travel, the mood remains optimistic as countries are eager to welcome summer travelers. New coronavirus cases and hospitalizations remain relatively low. Now may be a good time to take advantage of small crowds and milder temperatures.