Travel

Trapped in Paradise: Realize the Risks If You Are Traveling Outside the US

If you are planning a trip outside the U.S., you should be aware of a variety of risks that could keep you stuck in another country due to COVID-19 restrictions

NBC Universal, Inc.

So many of us are vaccinated and anxious to get away after a year of pandemic lockdowns.

Travel options outside the U.S. are still limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, but if you are planning to leave the country, realize the risks. Another country's rules could leave you trapped in paradise.

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"My husband and I are both fully vaccinated and we planned this wonderful week in Bermuda," said NBC10 Boston producer Mimi Segel.

She and her husband arrived in Bermuda April 3, but ended up staying a lot longer than they planned to.

"We chose Bermuda because they do have such serious protocols in place to deal with COVID, we felt safe coming here," said Segel. "But I never imagined that as someone who was fully vaccinated with two plus weeks after that last shot, that I would ever test positive for COVID."

Many people apparently dodged Massachusetts' coronavirus protocols by not filling out travel forms, according to records reviewed by the NBC10 Boston Investigators.

Bermuda requires that visitors are tested for coronavirus before they arrive, the day of arrival and again on Day 4 of their visit. Segel's Day 4 test came back positive, her husband's negative, and that landed them in a mandated 14-day quarantine in their hotel room.

"The general manager of our hotel went to the grocery store for us … and we have Cheerios and Special K and bananas," said Segel. "And we are eating that for breakfast and lunch and getting food from the hotel for dinner."

The Segels, who did not become sick or symptomatic, say they were lucky they had a balcony view and that they could work remotely from the hotel, but they weren't prepared for an extended stay.

"We ended up having to have some prescriptions Federal-Expressed to us, and that has to clear customs, and there are a lot of logistics that we're doing during a global pandemic in a foreign country," said Segel.

According to CDC requirements, you can't board a flight back to the U.S. from any international destination without testing negative for COVID-19 in the days before your departure, and a positive test means you're stuck.

"Most of the hotels have a separate area for the COVID-positive people," said Suzanne Bowering of Holiday Travel in Wakefield, Massachusetts. "And then you're in your room for the duration, for the 10 to 14 days. You're not out on the golf course, you're not out at the pool, you're in your room."

If your destination offers it, Bowering recommends purchasing COVID insurance, which covers quarantine costs. If not, you should have travel insurance.

"Check your policy see what's covered, what would be out of pocket," said Bowering. "And prepare for the worst case scenario. Bring something to do, bring a book, bring a laptop, pack your medications, just make sure everything is taken care of at home."

Segel bought trip insurance, which covered part of their expenses. She thinks purchasing COVID insurance would be an investment worth making.

"The hotel is being lovely and generous and cutting us a COVID break," she said. "But it is still not how we would have planned to spend this money."

Some other things to consider – would you be able to miss work for another two weeks if you can't make it home? What about your kids and pets at home? And in addition to medications, you might want to pack your work laptop and some laundry detergent in case you end up washing your clothes in the hotel sink.

Officials believe Steamship Authority ridership to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket will rebound this summer. Most weekends are already booked. In 2019, 2.1 million people visited the Vineyard, and indicators suggest plenty more will arrive on the island this summer.
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