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Health and Safety Protocols: Learn More
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Smithsonian Journeys Health & Safety Protocols

Updated as of April 25, 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 is 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, COVID-19 booster shots will now be required for all guests when eligible per CDC recommendations, which can be found here.

Please note: The above requirements apply for all Smithsonian Journeys.* Additional requirements related to COVID-19 may be necessary for certain destinations and tours, depending on the policies of a specific country or the tour. We will notify you of any additional requirements prior to the departure date of the tour. Please note that these same policies will apply to Smithsonian Journeys Experts and travel directors accompanying the group throughout your Smithsonian Journeys tour.

We recommend that you 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, many countries around the world have introduced new 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 Journey’s 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 CDC guidelines and any local requirements 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 CDC and local requirements in your destination prior to your departure).
  • 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.

Your Smithsonian Journeys travel director will also outline and reinforce traveler expectations at the beginning of your tour.

* 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


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 no or reduced single supplements. In 2022, we will not be making any roommate assignments in instances where guests do not know each other prior to the departure.


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 current CDC guidelines and local regulations, unless otherwise noted. As many tourist locations, along with public transport and private motorcoach companies, are requiring that travelers wear face masks regardless of vaccination status, you should expect to wear a face mask while on the motorcoach. Please bring a supply of face masks. Our travel directors will also have a limited supply of hand sanitizers and disposable masks available.

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 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 agreed to maintain a high level of sanitation and cleanliness. We will 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.

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

These safety and health measures also apply to our ship-based tours.

Any additional health and safety protocols related to your Ocean or River cruise will be provided in your pre-trip materials.


Return to the United States from International Travel

The CDC now requires all travelers entering the United States to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day prior to their return flight. More information on this requirement can be found here. Please note that, if this CDC requirement is in effect at the time of your scheduled Smithsonian Journeys tour, we will ensure that all travelers have access to professional and expeditious on-site COVID-19 testing accompanied by proper documentation prior to their return home. Travelers will be responsible for the cost of these tests.

Travelers will be asked to inform Smithsonian Journeys at immediately if they develop COVID-19 symptoms within 48 hours following the last day of the tour. Travelers agree to be contacted by Smithsonian Journeys for COVID-19 contact tracing efforts if necessary.