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The next time you travel, should you bring your vaccine card? Do you need additional travel insurance?
Here are some key travel planning and packing tips to navigate the new normal ahead of your next trip.
1. Take proof of your vaccination status
International travelers will almost certainly need proof of vaccination as more countries require it and/or a negative COVID-19 test result to enter or avoid quarantine restrictions.
But even domestic travelers may need proof depending on where they’re heading, even if it seems like government-imposed vaccine mandates are lifting. If you’re hesitant to risk losing your physical copy, some apps, like Clear’s Health Pass or New York state’s Excelsior Pass, store digital versions of your card and may work at some establishments. At the very least, save a photo of your vaccination card on your phone.
2. Consider purchasing travel insurance
Even if you’ve never purchased travel insurance in the past, 2022 might be your year.
Some travel credit cards include travel insurance as a benefit, which can come to your rescue in case of an unexpected illness, delayed or canceled flights or weather-related events. This coverage could be especially useful if a COVID-19 test comes back positive and you can no longer travel.
Be aware that disinclination to travel because of COVID-19 isn’t usually a covered reason. That’s when “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage — often offered as an upgrade on some travel insurance plans — comes in handy. When you purchase CFAR coverage, you’ll typically get 50%-75% of the nonrefundable trip purchases back, no matter the reason you cancel.
3. Double-check your passport early
Some countries require that passports be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip. And considering that passport processing times are slower than usual, you may want to renew your passport now.
According to the U.S. Department of State says you should expect to receive your new passport as late as 11 weeks after your application is received (it used to be about six weeks, pre-pandemic). While you can pay $60 for expedited service, it could still take up to seven weeks to get your new passport.
4. Apply for TSA PreCheck
Airport security lines were notoriously long pre-pandemic, but the Transportation Security Administration is bracing for especially busy travel this spring break and summer.
Luckily, you won't have to remove your shoes or arrive as early if you have TSA PreCheck, which is a security clearance program that lets you pass through airport security in a separate, expedited line.
While the application fee is $85, many travel credit cards reimburse it if you pay with the card. International travelers may consider applying for Global Entry, which will expedite you through security upon returning to the U.S. It also comes with TSA PreCheck, for a $100 fee that’s similarly reimbursable with the right card.
5. Have a plan in the event there's no housekeeping
One of the most basic hotel amenities, housekeeping, is disappearing. It's not uncommon to find yourself in a room with no restock of tiny shampoo bottles, and calling the front desk to deliver more can be a pain. You might be better off packing your own. Items like EC30 shampoo and conditioner are soft swatches that become activated with water. They won't create trash of tiny shampoo bottles everywhere, they're tiny to pack, and they aren't actually a liquid — so you can still take them in your carry-on through security.
The bottom line
Your packing list will likely include items you want readily available in your carry-on bag, like a mask, hand sanitizer and water bottle. But there are other items you can’t just purchase at the convenience store the day before your flight — you'll need to prepare for these in advance.
An up-to-date passport is imperative for international travel. Domestic and international travelers alike might consider joining expedited security programs, getting travel insurance and taking proof of vaccination to ensure smooth sailing for the trip.
This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.