You can Travel the World During the Pandemic … But It’s Complicated

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Dylan Ogline thought he had it made. Inspired by his favorite book, The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, he envisioned a life of vagabonding—months at a time spent in faraway countries, expanding his horizons through a series of epic adventures.

He actually did it. His “freedom business,” Ogline Digital, pulls seven figures in revenue against minimal expenses, while his online course, Agency 2.0, attracts students who want to follow in his footsteps and do the same. He was a digital nomad, living the laptop lifestyle.

He had a few epic adventure— backpacking through Europe and South America plus time in Southeast Asia. Then BOOM. COVID-19.

Shutdown, quarantine, borders closed, flights grounded.

Dylan cooled his heels in his hometown of Orlando, refining Agency 2.0 and making guest appearances on podcasts, quietly dying inside. To have escaped the rat race and freed himself to travel … the pandemic global shutdown seemed, among other things, like a cruel joke.

Today, though, Dylan is dusting off his passport, with his vaccination card paperclipped to it, and boarding a plane to one of the growing number of tourist hotspots reopening their doors to American visitors—Iceland, a Nordic moonscape in the north Atlantic, part of the Schengen Agreement, peppered with hot springs, and currently home of an erupting volcano.

You can still travel while the pandemic simmers in the background. Countries like Turkey and Mexico never really closed their doors to Americans, although the flights in the pre-vaccine days were quite tense.

The US required proof of a negative COVID test to re-enter—ostensibly a hurdle to step the tide. Cancun International Airport responded by opening rapid-testing clinics in the Departures terminal near ticketing, while hotels offered PCR testing for a fee.

Europe shut down hard, dashing many Americans’ hopes of a fairy-tale journey to the Old World. But there was one little-known exception—Croatia. The country shut down briefly during the winter surge, but now it’s open for business.

And despite being part of the former Yugoslavia, this coastal country is no dreary Eastern-Bloc banana republic. A global tourist hotspot, its beaches are world-famous. Hvar is like the St. Baarts of the Mediterranean, while Dubrovnik is a UNESCO-stamped world treasure—a medieval city of sea-facing castle walls with so much atmosphere that was cast as King’s Landing in Game of Thrones.

As of this writing, Germany and Norway are still closed, but Spain, France, and Italy are open to American travellers willing to present their vaccine card. Americans travelling to the UK face a ten-day quarantine requirement, but there’s a workaround.

The US is a country on the UK’s Amber list, the midpoint of their COVID danger rating. If, however, you spend ten days in a Green country—say, Iceland or Croatia—you can enter the UK with a negative COVID-19 and not face a quarantine.

Of course, all of this is subject to change. U.S. News and World Report maintains a running list of places Americans can visit, but it currently doesn’t include Iceland so it’s not completely up-to-date.

Dylan is glad to be back on the road and back on his vagabonding purpose. But with parts of the world still off-limits, travel doesn’t feel as lighthearted a pursuit as it used to. Herd immunity can’t come soon enough for his taste.

You can find him on Instagram and Facebook

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