We’re all itching to travel these days, but as of early February, a record-breaking 133 countries have the CDC’s "Level 4: Very high level of COVID-19" status, with the recommendation to avoid travel. On this list are some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
COVID-19 travel risks — flight cancellations, quarantine costs, not receiving adequate medical care, or potentially passing the virus onto someone else — are all legitimate concerns. In one FinanceBuzz survey, 55% of respondents said they had canceled or changed travel plans because of COVID-19. In another related survey, 41% of respondents said their biggest concern about travel during the COVID-19 pandemic was contracting the virus either en route or while abroad and then having to quarantine in a foreign country, which could be expensive, time-consuming, or both.
If you’re thinking of traveling soon, but calculating your risks, read on for 10 popular international destinations that are better to avoid — for now — but keep on your list for future safe travel.
Skiing in the Dolomites or taking part in the fanciful Venice Carnival may have to wait until next winter. As of mid-December, Italy has been under a Level 4 travel warning due to its high levels of coronavirus cases. Furthermore, the State Department warns that Italy’s “public hospitals may not maintain the same standards as hospitals in the United States” and that “private hospitals require you to pay for all services upfront and get reimbursed later from your insurance company.”
Although the Cayman Islands border is now open to vaccinated travelers, on November 8, the Department of State issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for the popular scuba and deep-sea fishing destination.
When it’s safe to visit, you can look forward to exploring dramatic seawalls, sunken Russian warships, and the multi-award-winning Seven Mile Beach.
If you were thinking of heading to Norway to view those famous Northern Lights, you might want to reconsider. In addition to being under the “Avoid Travel” COVID-19 travel advisory, the State Department notes that outside major urban areas, there are limits to emergency medical services: “The remote and sparse populations in northern Norway and the dependence on ferries to cross fjords of western Norway may affect transportation and ready access to medical facilities.”
The Department of State has issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for the United Kingdom, also noting that tourists “will be charged 150 percent of the cost of any medical treatment they receive from the National Health Services (NHS)” and that “unpaid balances of £1,000 or more can result in being barred from return to the United Kingdom.”
When the U.K.’s COVID-19 case numbers come down, we can’t wait to take a romantic train journey through the Scottish Highlands or dine at one of Edinburgh’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
The CDC issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice to avoid travel to this small but mighty Caribbean island at the beginning of October, and there are still high levels of COVID-19 within its borders.
Things to look forward to when it’s safe to travel? The UNESCO World Heritage site of historic Bridgetown, West Indian curries and rotis, and 80 white-sand beaches.
The State Department issued an advisory in late January, instructing U.S. citizens not to travel to Costa Rica due to the number of coronavirus cases. The memo also noted that “ambulance services are widely available, but training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards.”
The best time of year to visit this land of lush jungles, sea turtles, and fantastic surf breaks is mid-December to April, and we’re looking forward to doing just that — when it’s safe to do so.
The CDC has also categorized France as a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” country, with very high levels of COVID-19. Department of State officials also advised that flights to and from the country may be limited due to the pandemic. Additionally, although France’s healthcare is comparable to the U.S., medical providers can legally refuse to treat you if you can’t afford to pay.
What’s in store for travelers who decide to visit when it’s safe? Biking on the Alsatian wine trail, exploring châteaus and gardens in the Loire Valley, and taking in the cancan dancers at Moulin Rouge in Paris.
Not only has the State Department issued a memo advising against travel to Maldives, their website also notes that “Maldives has no trauma units and a small number of ICU beds. Persons needing treatments not offered in Maldives require evacuation to the nearest adequate medical facility.”
Don’t worry. Once the number of coronavirus cases has dropped, those famous sleep-over-the-water luxury accommodations, with pristine beaches, freshly caught fish, and warm shallow waters will still be there.
The CDC has designated Portugal an “Avoid Travel” destination. If you absolutely must travel here, officials advise making sure your Covid vaccinations are up to date. According to the Department of State website, Medicare and most private U.S. health insurance plans are not accepted in foreign countries.
Portugal is at the top of our when-it’s-safe-to-travel dream list, with its dramatic, rustic beaches in the Algarve region, traditional mountain villages, and Lisbon — the hip city with trams, mural art, and Fado music.
At the end of January, the State Department issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for Anguilla. Officials also note that “medical facilities in Anguilla do not meet U.S. standards.”
For your future, post-pandemic travel notes, Anguilla is known as one of the more authentic and intimate Caribbean islands. In addition to hanging out on one of its 33 white sand public beaches, visitors can also explore ceremonial sites and caves of the island’s original inhabitants, the Arawak people.
If you’ve decided to hold off on travel for now, you’re not alone. Airports are trying to recover from the pandemic and overall passenger numbers — and flights — are down.
In the meantime, you can hold onto your wishlist, sign up to receive State Department travel alerts, and start to prepare for travel after COVID-19.
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