Smithsonian Journeys Health & Safety Protocols

Updated as of August 31, 2023

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

We have worked with our travel partners to develop these health and safety 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. This page will be periodically updated as we obtain any new information or guidance.

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


Preparing for your Journey

To help ensure a safe and enjoyable journey, for tours departing on or before December 31, 2023,  all Smithsonian Journeys guests will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. An additional dose of an updated COVID-19 vaccine (or booster shot) is not required, although highly recommended for all guests per CDC recommendations, which can be found here.

For tours departing on or after January 1, 2024, Smithsonian Journeys will no longer require COVID-19 vaccination. For added protection, we highly recommend that guests stay up to date with all recommended vaccines, including COVID-19 and influenza, in accordance with the CDC recommendations.

Please note: Requirements may differ for certain tours due to in-country requirements or other reasons; in those cases, guests will be notified of trip-specific requirements in pre-tour documents.

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.

International Entry Requirements Imposed by Foreign Governments

Countries may have varying entry requirements related to COVID-19 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. 


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. When purchasing a policy, please consult with a travel insurance agent to review COVID-19 related coverage.

To learn more about Smithsonian Journeys' provider’s policies, 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 take reasonable measures to reduce the risk of exposure and follow all CDC guidelines five days prior to departure and throughout your tour.
  • While face masks are not generally required on tour, you agree to follow local requirements and the directions of tour staff in instances where face masks are recommended or required. 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). 
  • You will alert us prior to arrival and during the trip if you have any 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. In many cases, this means that you will need to isolate at a local hotel for several 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. 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.

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.


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. 


Upon Arrival

Please bring a supply of face masks in the event they are needed (as outlined in the “Prior to Your Journey” section above). 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 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.

Group Activities and Independent Time

Smithsonian Journeys is dedicated to providing our travelers with high quality group travel experiences. 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.

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.