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Passport, COVID vaccination card, and boarding pass on a wooden background
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Do You Need to Bring Your Vaccine Card When You Travel?

SmarterTravel

We answer this question and ones on vacation rentals, COVID-19 tests for flying, and more in this month’s edition of our travel advice column.

Q. “Do you need to bring your vaccine card with you when you travel?” – RS

A. It depends on your destination. Some countries will require the physical vaccine card as proof, whereas others will want you to upload a photo of your card into their app or system before traveling. Others will accept a photo or copy of the card shown in-person. 

Check with your destination to find out the exact requirements before traveling, and always keep a photo of your card saved on your phone so you can access a copy of it easily.

Remember, you’re likely to need to show proof of vaccination (or a negative COVID-19 test) at more places than just border control these days. Many destinations are implementing vaccination (or testing requirements) for things like concerts or indoor dining.  

Q. “I’m traveling to France soon and need to know, what type of vaccine passes do you need to carry? Is there some sort of app or will I need my physical card?” – EM

A. France has their own digital health passport that you will need in order to access major attractions like the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower. To get the pass, you’ll have to either upload your vaccine card, get a negative COVID-19 test (taken within 48 hours to visit an attraction/go to an event or within 72 hours for travel) or show proof of recovery from COVID-19 within the last six months. 

Q. “Do you go to Zillow, Expedia, Maui Resort Rentals, etc. to find a decent vacation rental? There are so many websites with various descriptions. I’m wondering is there a ‘best’ or at least a better way to search. Or do you just have to do all of them including VRBO, etc.?” – DM

A. There are so many vacation rental sites out there to sift through in order to find the perfect place. I like to condense my search by using Tripping, a search engine that looks at a number of vacation rental sites, including VRBO, Booking.com, Vacasa, and more. Not to add more sites to your list, but you might also find our list of the best vacation rental sites to be helpful.

Q. “What type of rest results can you use to board a plane? Is there a physical result you need to carry around, or can you show an email on your phone?” – EM

A. The CDC allows either a paper or electronic copy of a COVID-19 test to be shown to enter the United States. However, some destinations may require a paper copy or an electronic copy to be uploaded in advance of boarding a flight.

Q. “Is the best travel toothbrush still just buying a toothbrush and toothpaste at your destination?” – AC

A. The drugstore toothbrush is always a good standby, but if you’re accustomed to an electric toothbrush at home and can’t go back to manual on vacation, I recommend the Philips One travel toothbrush. It’s small and portable and has a thoughtfully designed case that keeps it sanitary while traveling―plus the battery will last for 30 days so you don’t have to worry about packing a charger.

Q. “How do I find travel insurance that will cover me in case I book a trip and we go back to lockdown?” – SS

A. Head over to SquareMouth, where you can search specifically for travel insurance that covers COVID-19 related cancellations. Make sure that you choose a policy that allows cancellation at any time before the trip―many cancel-for-any-reason policies only cover you if you cancel at least three days before your trip, which won’t help you if you have to cancel due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Q. “Any fun recommendations for ways to kill 12 hours on a plane? The movie/podcast/games combo gets old quickly.” – KM

A. The best way to get through 12 hours on a plane is by sleeping through most of it, in my opinion. If you’re stuck awake though, here are a few fun things to help pass the time:

  • Download Duolingo and pick up a few phrases to learn in the language of your destination.
  • On your way home, go through and edit/organize all the photos you took during your trip.
  • Unwind with an adult coloring book.
  • Treat yourself to an elaborate snack/drink. Food can definitely be entertainment on a plane, so why not pack something fun to eat (like a deluxe cheese plate) and order a drink to go with it, for an in-flight happy hour. If you want to get really fancy, bring an in-flight cocktail kit that you can use to play mixologist with whatever liquor you can buy onboard. 

Q. “What’s your favorite translation app for travel?” – EM

A. Google Translate is my favorite by far. You can download 59 languages in advance, so you can translate offline when you don’t have WiFi or cell service. Translate by typing, speaking, or using your camera to scan text. (I haven’t had the best luck with the “scan text” feature, which usually struggles at identifying words on labels and signs, but the “conversation” feature, which listens to people talking is fantastic.)

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