Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Whatever passport you hold, these tools hold the answers…

Lots of people are dusting off their passports in hopes of some travel this year. It may not be what was once expected, but for many, the desire to explore is returning and in many ways the new normal can work in your favor.

Now that airlines are nail ingsafety measures and destinations are finding intelligent ways to ensure visitor safety, the big question is: where can you go and when?

The answer is about two clicks away. Maybe three, because the best resource now has a CAPTCHA to ensure you’re not a robot. In terms of up to the minute information that should get you prepared appropriately, the IATA travel tool is the best thing on the web, and there are a few other references worth checking too!

Timatic From IATA

The International Airline Transportation Association, aka IATA is a huge force in global aviation, and Timatic, a powerful tool being offerd up by IATA is the benchmark airlines use in deciding whether passengers fit into the rules required by a given destination to board a flight, like visas and any other things they may need in advance.

In the current world, knowing which countries will – and will not – have you is kind of a big deal, because who wants to buy a vacation only to be told they’re not eligible to board their flight or enter the country?

Making things more complicated, if you’re transiting through some countries, they may have their own rules, even for transit, such as testing needs.

Knee jerk moves spooked travelers as countries changed the rules overnight in the initial days of covid, throwing chaos into the movement of people, but as things begin to normalize, most of the changes are positive ones, with more people welcomed back by the day.

More countries are announcing plans to open, or are already open now, than those that are closing. It’s a very welcome change for travel starved enthusiasts around the globe. And yes, it’s round – not flat.

Using IATA’s Free Resource

When it comes to keeping up with the changes, there’s one tool, and pretty much only one tool you need to have the best information at the time. That’s IATA’s interactive travel restriction map, which allows you to click on a country – let’s hope your geography doesn’t suck – and see current restrictions.

Speaking of geography, be sure to brush up on yours before clicking on the map. It can be seriously hard to find some destinations, though it’s worth the work. I dare you to find the Maldives.

IATA briefly tried to charge for this service, before realizing the greater good was in keeping it free for you to use, so that you just might travel again! Using the tool, you’ll instantly see what’s required, and if you’re currently eligible to visit.

Let’s take… The Maldives.

Rules Change

It’s important to remember that rules are changing by the day, though less so now, fortunately. For travelers, entry restrictions are mostly being lifted now, for the better. It does make it hard to plan though.

Countries which say “all flights are suspended” today may change in days, weeks or months, so it’s important not to give up on your first search.

A perfect example? Asia, where countries are rapidly reevaluating their desire to allow foreign tourists back in. Many countries are also opening up to anyone who’s been fully vaccinated too, including Iceland, The Seychelles and more.

Basically check back regularly, and particularly to make sure you have everything you need before you fly.

To be extra sure that the information you’re presented with from the IATA resource is accurate, it never hurts to check, or Dragon Slayer, two more great entry restriction tools for travelers.

If a country were to introduce mandatory testing, a health declaration or a new visa before you’d be allowed on a flight, the IATA interactive map would be an early place to find that info and track it down. And yes, to complete the steps required before check in.

Airlines are great, but the burden of what you need to have ready before you travel isn’t on them, it’s on you. Basically, they can keep you from boarding a flight, even if they didn’t tell you about this extra thing you might need in the meantime.

If you do plan to travel this year, be sure to read up on handy tips to keep you safe while flying, and also on some of the fantastic deals going around from hotels to flights which aim to build up buzz about the return of travel.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. All the businesses are spending more money in new cleaning protocols and losing money because of capacity restrictions hence a double whammy. Go out safely and by keeping others safe, spend money as they need to survive or else their life savings will vanish and their families will have tough times and fall in poverty scales. See something say something if you have a good experience tell others to support that business. If you see something questionable tell the business owner and let him correct he is already under lot of stress. So travel safely by keeping others safe and support the local businesses first then other countries that depend on tourism. Tourism and service industries are the largest employers that common man/women depends on for earning their daily bread.

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