International travel tips for Americans: Things to do before departing

If you've got the itch to get away and you're planning an international trip, experts say that you want to have safeguards in place for any COVID-19 problems that may arise. 

The Points Guy managing editor Clint Henderson has seen a steady increase in the number of people booking trips and also a spike in what they're spending. He stressed the importance of being an educated traveler prior to takeoff.

"It's time to travel but have a Plan B and C," he said. 

Henderson said packing a few CDC-approved COVID-19 tests for your return home is a good idea.

"You can go to most places that Americans want to go now without getting a pre-departure test but you have to remember — you need a test to get back into the United States," he said. "I usually bring four or five COVID tests from Abbott BinaxNOW. Make sure they are proctored tests."

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And if you happen to test positive while abroad, booking travel insurance ahead of time will offer you peace of mind, said Pauline Frommer of Frommer's.

"I recommend CFAR insurance, which stands for cancel for any reason," she said.

Experts suggest using websites like InsureMyTrip and SquareMouth to find the best options for insurance. With each country's restrictions changing on a daily basis, reading the fine print should be a priority.

"If you test positive, you're not going to be allowed in the U.S. and all the expenses are going to be on you," Frommer said. "So you need travel insurance."

About 85% of people in the United States expect to travel this summer, according to data from the U.S. Travel Association. More than 2.2 million people passed through TSA checkpoints in the United States on Sunday — that is just slightly less than those who traveled on the same date in 2019 before the pandemic.

"Travel is still ramping up, so you're going to be able to go to some of the world's destinations without the crowds you would've seen in 2019," Frommer said.

Book sooner rather than later as prices are expected to keep going up.

To Recap: 4 Tips for International Travel

  1. Have a Plan B and Plan C.
  2. Pack some CDC-approved COVID-19 tests.
  3. Buy travel insurance, preferably CFAR (cancel for any reason).
  4. Book early; prices are rising.