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Newsday webinar: Have fun, go travel, but stay aware about COVID

Where can you travel in the U.S. and

Where can you travel in the U.S. and internationally? What restrictions are still in place? Travel experts answer your questions. Sign up for COVID-19 text alerts at newsday.com/text.

Oh, the places you'll go?

When it comes to making vacation plans in a world still unraveling COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, you just might need the advice of two doctors — Dr. Fauci and Dr. Seuss.

That, because experts on the latest NewsdayLive webinar, "Travel & COVID-19: Where Can I Go?" agreed Wednesday, even if you and your loved ones are eager to go places where there'll be no masks on your faces, where and when might just be the least of the questions in your planning sessions.

As Anne Lischwe, travel sales manager for AAA Northeast, and fellow travel expert Nikki Theissen, vice president of Partner & Visitor Relations for Discover Long Island, explained, you not only need to stay current on the ever-changing rules and regulations for both domestic and international travel. You need to ask: Will I feel comfortable?

All of which brings to mind the words of Dr. Seuss in Oh, the Places You'll Go!: "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose . . . You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care. About some you will say, 'I don't wish to go there.'"

So, whether it's Athens or Rome, Fairbanks or Nome, as Lischwe said: "The question we get a lot is, 'Are we safe to go?' "

One way to know is to consult the Centers for Disease Control website (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus) and its travel planning guide, which includes guidance on danger levels for COVID-19.

The site also includes travel tool kits for air travel, cruise ship travel and road travel, and explains testing and port-of-entry requirements for domestic and international travel.

Lischwe said even domestic travel can be daunting right now — noting that while Hawaii is currently a popular domestic destination, the state has many restrictions and regulations for accepting negative COVID tests for travelers. And that if you jump through all the hoops needed to get there, you might find a host of logistical problems once you do.

"Rental cars," she said, "are sold out for the next 18 months in Hawaii . . . So, you have to do your research."

Rules vary from country to country around the world. With variants of the coronavirus on the rise in some places, those in place today might not be the ones in place tomorrow.

And know that if you do leave the United States you'll need to have a negative COVID test to get back in, Lischwe said.

That's whether you're vaccinated or not.

Theissen said even planning for a quick local getaway can be complicated. East End hotel space is going quick, rental properties, too. And, she said, there's the question of mask and social distancing requirements, the potential differences in cleaning protocols between big chain hotels, motels and resorts and private and independent properties, including rental homes, you might find listed on a website.

"Whether it's abroad, whether it's in the city," she said. "Nassau County and Suffolk County might be different than Manhattan or out of state . . . You need to research the specific place you want to go. You need to find your comfortability.

For local treks, Theissen said Discover Long Island — www.discoverlongisland.com — is a good resource for things to do and how to do them. For travel around the U.S. and abroad, Lischwe said the AAA — https://travel.aaa.com — can provide expert advice, as well.

So whether here or there, whether near or far, whether by plane, train or boat — or, even, by car — there's things you must know, there are rules to abide.

"Ask an expert," Lischwe said. They can help you decide.

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