As COVID-19 cases plummet in the U.S., the desire to travel has taken off, and in many places, Kansans and Missourians will not face any restrictions due to the pandemic.

Last year, as the virus moved across the country, counties and states enacted a dizzying patchwork of restrictions based on case rates and quarantining.

Now, most states, including Missouri, have lifted COVID-19 rules.

A handful still have recommendations. However a few states, including Kansas, continue to have some restrictions.

Kansans who are not vaccinated and take a cruise or attend a mass gathering with 500 or more people where social distancing and masks are not utilized must home quarantine upon their return to the state.

Travelers to Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, India or Argentina also must quarantine when they return to Kansas.

A full list of countries can be found here. A seven-day quarantine with a negative test or 10 days without a test is required to complete quarantine.

Travelers who have been vaccinated or have documentation showing they tested positive for COVID-19 in the past six months are exempt from quarantine requirements, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The quarantine list is updated regularly, so continue to check before traveling.

CDC guidance and destinations reopen

Mask rules vary by locale, and still must be worn on airplanes and on public transportation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Internationally, Mexico and the Dominican Republic are open to Americans with no restrictions.

Europe is also open, although to get into the United Kingdom requires a 10 day quarantine and a negative test on day 2 and day 8 of arrival. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most parts of Asia also remain closed off.

“Two months ago, they were giving things away — airline seats were cheap, hotels were cheap,” said Mark Ebbitts, president of Shelton Travel Service, a Kansas City travel agency. “And it seems like about May 1st, the whole world awoke and said ‘I want to go someplace.’”

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To get back into the U.S., travelers must show a negative test taken 72 hours prior to returning, according to CDC guidance. Ebbitts said resorts are offering free tests.

Other popular travel destinations

While traveling is easier as cases drop, availability may be a different story.

Popular domestic destinations like Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Aspen and Vail, Colorado; Nantucket, Massachusetts; and Destin, Florida, are booked through the summer, Ebbitts said.

“People are feeling more comfortable and also I think there’s stimulus checks in their pockets and they have extra money to spend,” he said.

According to Kansas City International Airport, passenger travel was up 1,073% in April 2021 compared to April 2020. However it was 47% less than April 2019. May’s report is not out yet, but spokesman Joe McBride said June 6 saw the highest number of passenger screenings since the pandemic began with 14,442. The average pre-pandemic was 16,000.

Beginning Tuesday, travelers to Hawaii who are fully vaccinated can skip a pre-travel test and quarantine. Travelers must upload their vaccination record to a state health website or have a hard copy. People who are not vaccinated must have a negative test 72 hours prior to flying, according to the State of Hawai’i.

Restrictions in California lifted Tuesday, except for anyone attending a convention with more than 5,000 people.

Travelers going to New York must fill out a health form.

Cruise ships are also getting back on the water. Passengers must be vaccinated, though there is an exception for travelers with religious or other objections to the vaccine. They can board, but may be restricted to certain areas of the ship. No more than 10% of the passengers may be unvaccinated, Ebbitts said.

Like other industries, the travel industry has suffered the past 15 months of the pandemic. Ebbitts said his Kansas City travel agency saw $5 million in gross bookings get canceled. While things are looking up, he said, there is still uncertainty as variants develop.

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