With the focus on staycations and naycations, there’s little reporting on important nuts-and-bolts issues affecting thousands still on the road. Expect to hear about these only when they start causing major snarls for casual tourists unaware of the changes.
- Flying to the United States this year? As of January 12, 2009, all travelers to the U.S. from Visa Waiver countries (that’s Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom [and in the near future, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Poland and Romania too]) will be required to submit their travel plans online 72 hours prior to travel. Failure to complete ESTA authorization before travel may result in denial of boarding or entry. Read the details about this change in the post U.S. to Require Online Registration for Visa-Free Travelers.
- After January 16, 2009, you’ve got to use Euros when traveling in Slovakia. They’re the 16th EU country to switch to the currency since its introduction a decade ago. Later this year, expect the Czech Republic to finalize a date for their switch (expected early 2010).
- Travelers transiting or changing planes within Mexico will now be subject to customs inspection before continuing to their next flight. International travelers to the United States will be familiar with the drill: claim checked baggage and proceed through customs, then drop off baggage again before heading to the connecting gate. Flights from the Caribbean, Central and South America have already begun the procedure; February 1 is the date for flights from Canada, Asia and Europe; flights from the U.S. have until September 1 to comply. Be aware and avoid tight connections. And don’t forget to lock that luggage!
- Starting June 1, 2009, it will no longer be possible to travel by air, land or sea without a passport to destinations in the Western Hemisphere, such as Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. Children under 16 may use a birth certificate in lieu of passport. This requirement also applies to Americans attempting to reenter the United States. Details here.