Plan your next journey with confidence. Health and Safety Protocols: Learn More

Smithsonian Journeys Health & Safety Protocols

Updated as of October 17, 2022

Since our beginnings over 50 years ago, Smithsonian Journeys has focused on providing worry- free, enriching, and enjoyable educational travel experiences. The well-being of our guests and staff members has always been our highest priority. COVID-19 has posed new challenges but our commitment to these priorities remains unchanged.

We know the decision to travel is a personal one; each of us has to determine our own comfort level with travel. To help you make your decision, we have outlined below the extra health and safety measures we are taking across all facets of our tours.

We have worked with our travel partners to develop these measures, in accordance with organizations such as U.S. Department of State (DOS) Travel Advisories, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols and travel industry guidance. As the situation continues to be fluid, we will be updating this document as we obtain any new information or guidance.


Preparing for your Journey

To help ensure a safe and enjoyable journey, all Smithsonian Journeys guests will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (with the final dose received at least 14 days prior to travel) and present proof of vaccination. Additionally, a COVID-19 booster shot is required for all guests when eligible per CDC recommendations, which can be found here.*

Please note: These same policies will apply to Smithsonian Journeys Experts and travel directors accompanying the group throughout your Smithsonian Journeys tour.

Additionally, in an effort to mitigate transmission and prevent required isolation in a foreign country, we strongly recommend you take an at-home COVID-19 antigen test within 24 hours of departing for your tour. If your test result is positive, you should refrain from travel, contact us at 877-338-8687, and consult your insurance provider with any coverage questions.

You should also consult your physician for best practices to keep you safe and healthy before, during, and after your trip with us.

Prior to departure, all guests will be required to sign a liability waiver to ensure that they understand the risk factors involved in traveling during the pandemic and the preventative measures that are expected to be followed to mitigate exposure to COVID-19. You will receive the liability waiver and other details in your pre-trip materials.

International Entry Requirements Imposed by Foreign Governments

In response to COVID-19, countries have varying entry requirements for international visitors.

Guests will be notified of any entry requirements for their specific destination(s) with their pre-tour documents and will receive an update if there are further changes prior to the tour’s departure. Current regulations by destination can be found on the U.S. State Department website for COVID-19 Country Specific Information, located here.


We strongly recommend that you purchase a travel protection plan to protect yourselves and your investment in the event of illness prior to or during the tour, and to obtain additional medical coverage while on the tour. When purchasing a policy, please consult with a travel insurance agent to review COVID-19 related coverage.

To learn more about Travel Guard insurance (Smithsonian Journeys' provider), please click here.

Smithsonian Journeys Travelers

In order to provide a safe travel experience for our guests, we also need your help. By joining a tour, you agree to make the following commitments to health and safety:

  • You will present proof of COVID-19 vaccination (with the final dose received at least 14 days prior to travel) as well as proof of a COVID-19 booster when eligible per CDC recommendations.
  • You will take reasonable measures to reduce the risk of exposure and follow all CDC guidelines five days prior to departure and throughout your tour.
  • You agree to follow local requirements and the directions of tour staff regarding wearing of face masks while on tour. This applies to both group activities and to time on your own. (Please note: We will provide you more details on local requirements in your destination prior to your departure). In some destinations, you may undergo a temperature and symptom check and be subject to random testing.
  • You will alert us prior to arrival and during the trip if you have a fever, dry cough, or other COVID-19 like symptoms.

Should you test positive for COVID-19 at any point during the tour, you will need to follow the recommended guidelines of a physician (if consulted), or a combination of CDC and local regulations for the destination. Typically, this means that you will need to isolate at a local hotel for five days. If there is still time left in the program after your required isolation period is over, you will be able to rejoin your group as long as you practice established distancing and wear a mask per CDC guidelines. A negative test may also be required to rejoin the group. Roommates and anyone who shows signs of COVID-19 will also need to be tested, and if positive, follow the same requirements.

Your Smithsonian Journeys travel director will outline and reinforce traveler expectations at the beginning of your tour. They will also have rapid tests on hand, but we encourage you to bring your own rapid test if possible so you can test immediately if you develop symptoms during the tour.


Destination Considerations: Before operating a trip in any destination, it must be open to tourism and we must be able to deliver the itinerary as planned.

Small Group Size: Our land-based tours average between 12 and 20 travelers, and not more than 24, unless otherwise noted in your itinerary. For our ship tours, we use small ships ranging from 17-passenger barges to 264-passenger ocean ships.

More Single Rooms and No or Reduced Single Supplements: To provide more privacy and space, we strive to contract as many single rooms as possible. In addition, a number of our tours offer single availability at no additional charge or at a reduced supplemental cost. Currently, we are not making any roommate assignments in instances where guests do not know each other prior to the departure.


Prior to Arrival

To help assure the health and well-being of all guests on the trip, we strongly recommend that you take an at-home COVID-19 antigen test within 24 hours of departing for your tour. 

Airline Travel

It is important to consult with your airline on regulations regarding your flight. Some airlines are implementing their own health and safety precautions, including health screenings and temperature checks prior to boarding, and mandatory face masks. You can learn more about the TSA’s requirements at We recommend consulting your airline for their individual requirements and precautions.

Please note that you are responsible for bringing your own face mask that complies with your airlines’ requirements.


Upon Arrival

The use of face masks on tour will be dictated by local regulations as well as requirements established by tour staff and our partners at the destination, such as private van or motorcoach companies. Regardless of the local regulations, for the health and well-being of all guests, we recommend the use of masks, specifically medical grade masks such as N95 or KN95 masks, in enclosed areas where it’s difficult to social distance. Please bring a supply of face masks; Our travel directors will also have a limited supply of hand sanitizers and disposable masks available.

If someone on the tour tests positive for COVID, all guests will be advised to wear masks inside public areas (except when eating or drinking) and while in transit.

Tour Staff

Your Smithsonian Journeys Experts and travel directors are required to adhere to the same health and safety protocols as outlined for guests. Tour staff will also receive additional training on health and safety measures to support you during your tour.

Ground Transportation

All transportation vehicles will be cleaned, and all surfaces sanitized prior to your arrival each day throughout the tour.

Accommodations and Meals

All hotels and lodges on our trips have implemented enhanced cleaning procedures, and maintain a high level of sanitation and cleanliness. We select restaurants that also meet our cleaning and sanitation requirements.

Guests can also expect that some hotels, restaurants, and tourist sites may conduct contactless temperature checks or other protocols prior to entry.

We would be happy to accommodate any requests for separate dining arrangements throughout the tour.

Group Activities and Independent Time

Smithsonian Journeys is dedicated to providing our travelers with high quality group travel experiences. During this unique time, the structure and style of some of your excursions and activities may be altered to ensure your safety and well-being. These can include the timing and location of lectures, group excursions, meals and receptions. Detailed information will be outlined in your pre-tour documents.

Many of our tours utilize whisper audio devices for excursions. All headsets and controls will be sanitized, and sterilized ear buds will be in sealed plastic bags. You will receive a headset at the beginning of the tour that will be in your possession and used only by you for the duration of the tour.

While on your tour, you will have time for independent exploration and meals on your own. In the interest of ensuring the health and safety of all group members, both during and outside of scheduled tour activities, guests are required to follow these Smithsonian Journeys Health & Safety Protocols and local health and hygiene regulations intended to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Traveling by Ship

For ocean and river cruises, there may be additional or different health and safety protocols which will be provided in your pre-trip materials.


Travelers will be asked to inform Smithsonian Journeys at [email protected] immediately if they develop COVID-19 symptoms within 48 hours following the last day of the tour.

Please note: These Health and Safety Protocols apply to all Smithsonian Journeys except for Private Jet and Tailor-Made Journeys. Please see details at and, respectively.

*Guests may seek a medical exemption to the COVID-19 booster by submitting a note from a physician documenting medical advice against receiving the COVID-19 booster shot. Additional testing requirements may apply. For more information, please contact us at [email protected].