Coronavirus Travel Update: Learn More
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What to Expect When We Return to Travel

Updated June 26, 2020

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

Making You More Comfortable At Every Turn

Small Group Size

Our land-based trips average between 12 and 20 travelers, and never more than 24. For our ship trips, we use small intimate ships ranging from 17-passenger barges to 264-passenger ocean ships.

Increased Spacing throughout Your Trip

We have re-planned all coach/van rides, meals, activities and excursions to accommodate physical distancing and provide more individual space throughout your Journey. Our travel directors will assess local conditions (and possible crowds) to adjust timing of visits.

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 trips offer no or reduced single supplements. During 2020 and 2021, we will not be making any roommate assignments in instances where guests do not know each other prior to the departure.

Prior To Your Journey


For the convenience of our travelers, an included on-tour insurance plan is provided by Travel Guard. Smithsonian Journeys travelers (U.S. residents traveling more than 100 miles from home) have tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), and travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance. In addition, we strongly recommend that guests purchase a travel protection plan to protect themselves in the event of illness prior to or during the trip and to obtain additional medical coverage while on the trip.

Advance Health Screening

A short health survey will be sent to each traveler seven (7) days prior to departure which will provide a confidential health assessment to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of all travelers. In addition, we highly recommend that you consult your physician for best practices to keep you safe and healthy.

En Route To Your Journey

If you utilize public transportation or a taxi en route to your destination, the CDC recommends wearing a mask and being aware of touchpoints where many other people pass frequently (credit/debit card, terminals, handrails, etc.). It’s important to consult with your airline on regulations regarding your flight.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and most airlines are implementing their own health and safety precautions, including physical distancing plans, health screenings and temperature checks prior to boarding and mandatory face coverings.

On Tour

Upon Arrival

Our travel directors will use non-contact thermometers to check all travelers’ temperatures upon arrival. If a guest demonstrates symptoms of being unwell, we will assist the guest in obtaining medical attention. The guest will not be permitted to join the tour until deemed safe to do so by a physician. Our travel directors will have a supply of hand sanitizers, wipes, and disposable masks available upon arrival. It is recommended that you bring a personal supply as well.

Tour Staff

Your Smithsonian Journeys Experts, travel directors, drivers, and local guides are required to adhere to strict health and safety protocols, temperature checks and the wearing of face coverings while inside, or outside, if physical distancing is not possible. Tour staff will also receive additional training on health and safety measures to support you during your trip.

Ground Transportation

All transportation vehicles will be cleaned, and all surfaces sanitized prior to your arrival each day throughout the Journey. We will arrange for the group traveling aboard a vehicle to be the same group traveling on that vehicle throughout the day, and for coaches and vans to accommodate adequate physical distancing, to the extent possible.

Accommodations and Meals

All hotels and lodges utilized have agreed to implement enhanced cleaning procedures, with a particular focus on guest rooms and high impact areas such as check-in desks, lobby areas, elevators, restaurants and fitness centers. While specific measures may vary by destination, we will use only establishments that have implemented and maintain a high level of sanitation and cleanliness. We will select restaurants that also meet our cleaning and sanitation requirements and provide an appropriate degree of physical distancing. We will eliminate self-serve buffet service and offer in-room dining options, where possible.

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 trips 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 trip. The audio devices are very helpful not only to aide in listening to any given speaker, but also encourage social distancing.

Smithsonian Journeys Travelers

In order to provide a safe travel experience for our guests, we need your help, as well. Hand hygiene, physical distancing, the wearing of face masks in inside areas or outside, where it’s not possible to physical distance, and monitoring your own health symptoms will go a long way toward creating a healthy environment for everyone on the trip. Your Smithsonian Journeys travel director will outline and reinforce traveler expectations at the beginning of your trip.

Traveling by Ship

The safety and health measures being implemented for our ship-based trips are very similar to those that will be in place for our land-based trips.

  • All travelers will receive a temperature check and overall health screening at the point of embarkation, prior to boarding. The same procedure will be implemented for all tour staff and crew.
  • All ship staff will be required to wear face coverings in inside areas of the ship, and all guests will be encouraged to do so.
  • Ship staff will be implementing stringent cleaning and hygiene measures in both public areas and guest cabins to ensure your health and safety.
  • Dining hours, receptions, and lectures will be adjusted to accommodate physical distancing during all of these activities. There will be no self-service buffet service. When possible, in-room dining options will be offered.
  • Ground transportation vehicles for any shore excursions will be cleaned and sanitized prior to your arrival and will accommodate physical distancing to the extent possible. Learn more about the detailed safety and health measures being implemented for our ocean cruises operated in association with Gohagan and Ponant here.