This month, we look at the latest from the United States, Anguilla, the global lost luggage crisis, and a big step forward for the cruise industry. If you are planning to travel, make sure you are up to date on what you need to bring, show, and do before you take off. If you know you're traveling soon, get a quote from us today to make sure you are protected!
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COVID-19 era rule for expired passports in the United States has come to an end as of July 1, 2022. Until then, people were able to return to the U.S if their passport had expired on or after January 1, 2020. This lenient rule was put into place initially due to the global pandemic and passport offices not being able to keep up with the demand for new and renewed passports.
Now, the State Department is urging travelers to renew expired passports as soon as they can. The current processing time for receiving a new passport is between eight and eleven weeks. Even the expedited processing option is still taking up to seven weeks. The fastest way to renew a passport is still via mail service.
Global Luggage Crisis
Airports, especially in Europe currently, are experiencing the highest volume of lost luggage that the travel industry has seen. Many families are taking their first vacations in over two years and, unfortunately, the air industry is still not able to keep up in a post-COVID travel world.
Claims to airlines for lost luggage have surged more than 30% since 2019. Some airlines have policies that cover compensation for spending on replacement items such as shoes and clothing, but many travelers are reporting having a hard time getting into contact with airline staff to submit and file a claim for this.
Dealing with lost or delayed luggage while traveling is never fun, but travel insurance plans with baggage coverage can at least help you recover financially. Safe Travels Voyager, Trawick International’s most popular travel insurance plan, provides reimbursement for lost and stolen personal items, as well as costs incurred due to baggage delay. Get a quote
Anguilla, a British overseas territory and island in the Eastern Caribbean, has announced that beginning August 8, 2022, it will no longer require vaccinated travelers to get tested for COVID-19 before entering the country. Proof of vaccination status will still need to be presented at check-in and on arrival.
Additionally, unvaccinated travelers will be able to enter the country as long as they can provide a negative pre-arrival COVID-19 test. Previously, only fully vaccinated travelers were allowed to enter the island. Anguilla is still mandating masks to be worn at all times, and social distancing protocols must be followed.
Travel medical insurance is highly recommended for Anguilla. It is always a good idea to plan and purchase a travel insurance plan that treats COVID-19 as any other illness. Learn more about our plans that cover COVID-19 here.
Good news coming out of the cruise industry this month! As of July 18, 2022, the CDC has stopped the COVID-19 program for cruise ships. The previous color-coding system in place to rate the safety of the ships will be retired for now and cruise lines will now be in charge of their own COVID-19 programs, although the CDC will still provide guidelines. This is a big step forward for the cruise industry and speaks to the effectiveness of the protocols the cruise lines have put in place to protect the health and safety of their passengers.
This list from Travel and Leisure is a good place to start learning what most of the major cruise lines currently require. Of course, it’s best to check with your specific cruise line before you depart to learn what documents are needed and what, if any, testing protocols have to be followed. These vary by cruise line, ship, and departure/arrival port.
Extreme Heat Wave
This year we are seeing more extremes in weather than we have in years past. In addition to it being an above-average hurricane season, which we recently wrote about in our last blog, July has turned out to be one of the hottest on record, with blistering heat waves affecting destinations across the globe.
In Europe, the scorching heat killed thousands of people and sparked wildfires as temperatures not only surpassed but shattered any past highs on record, especially in the U.K. where temperatures reached an unheard of 104º F (40º C). A Category 3 heat wave in Seville, Spain became the world’s first named heat wave, Zoe, with more Category 3 heat waves expected later this summer in the area. France, Italy, and Portugal are also seeing record highs in certain areas, while others remain milder for the time being. In the U.S., above-normal temperatures swept across the states in the past week, with more dangerously hot weather in the forecast.
So what does this mean for travelers? If you are heading to Europe, understand that the heat wave can mean delayed flights and train schedules, as runways and tracks are put to the test under this unusually extreme heat. In Portugal, the government could mandate restrictions on movement and limit access to certain areas. In Italy, there is an initiative in place that restricts temperature settings from being set below 80, so there will be little relief indoors, especially for American travelers who may be used to lowering their thermostats as much as they desire to stay cool. In the U.S., flight schedules can be delayed or even canceled due to the extreme heat – not the most welcome news at a time when airlines are already struggling.
Make sure to stay informed of the latest updates for extreme heat alerts in the area you are visiting. And of course, be sure to follow all the standard hot weather protocols: stay hydrated, wear light, loose-fitting clothing, apply sunscreen multiple times throughout the day, and try to limit your outdoor activity to when it’s coolest, like morning and evening hours. For more tips and information about the heat wave visit the CDC website.