How to Use Tech to Prepare for Travel in a Pandemic

Even as vaccines make it safer to travel, planning a trip is becoming increasingly complicated.

By Brian X. Chen

With coronavirus vaccines now readily available, you might have ambitions to venture far from home. Government officials, after all, say traveling is a low-risk activity for the inoculated.

But the sheer amount of preparation needed to travel during the pandemic might persuade you to stay put. Airlines, hotels and cruise lines are considering the use of so-called vaccine passports, which are essentially digital bar codes proving that you have been vaccinated against Covid-19, before allowing you to patronize their businesses. The onus is on you to check their requirements.

Then, in addition to the usual rigmarole — putting together an itinerary, ordering a foreign SIM card and downloading maps — you’ll have to do even more research on your destination, like looking up potential quarantine restrictions and reading about infection rates. And if you book a trip far in advance, be prepared to do all that research again right before you depart, because the situation is prone to change.

“One thing you’ll have to navigate will be a fluctuating environment in terms of tests or vaccination requirements, even borders that may open and then shut again very quickly,” said Henry Harteveldt, founder of Atmosphere Research Group, a travel analysis firm in San Francisco. “We’re going to have to be prepared for a very dynamic, very fluid international travel environment for the remainder of this year.”

Yet some of us will travel this year, whether it’s for work or for emergency reasons. So here’s a special pandemic edition of how to use tech to prepare for your trip.

Do your online research

Before you book a plane ticket and hotel, research the requirements of your destination. The most reliable places to find that information are the travel and tourism websites for your destination.

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