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Coronavirus Travel Update: Learn More
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Smithsonian Journeys Health & Safety Protocols

Updated as of June 28, 2021

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 COVID-19 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 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 12 years of age and above 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. Guests under the age of 12 will be required to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken within three days prior to arrival. Please note: The above requirements apply for all Smithsonian Journeys unless otherwise specified in pre-trip materials. Additional entry requirements related to COVID-19 may be necessary for entry into certain destinations, depending on the country’s policies. Please note that these same policies will apply to all staff 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 the COVID-19 pandemic, most 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.


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 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.

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) if you are 12 years of age and above. Guests under the age of 12 will need to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test result taken within three days prior to arrival.
  • 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 will wear a face mask and follow all CDC travel guidelines while en route to your tour and you agree to follow CDC recommendations 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 will undergo a temperature and symptom check, as requested..
  • 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. Failure to comply with the safety and commitments during the tour will result in your being excluded from the tour.


Destination Considerations: Before operating a trip in any destination, it must be designated as a level 3 advisory or lower by the U.S. Department of State, and 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. 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. During 2021 and 2022, we will not be making any roommate assignments in instances where guests do not know each other prior to the departure.


If you utilize public transportation, including a rideshare or taxi en route to your destination, the CDC requires wearing a face mask.

Airline Travel

It’s important to consult with your airline on regulations regarding your flight. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires face masks at airports and onboard commercial aircraft. In addition, most 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 information about the TSA’s requirements here and individual airlines’ requirements and precautions at

Please note that you are responsible for bringing your own face mask that complies with the TSA’s and your airlines’ requirements. Airlines may deny boarding to any passenger without one.


Upon Arrival

Our travel directors will have a supply of hand sanitizers, wipes, and disposable masks available. It is recommended that you bring a personal supply as well. The use of face masks on tour will be dictated by current CDC guidelines and local regulations.

Tour Staff

Your Smithsonian Journeys Experts, travel directors, drivers, and local guides 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 implemented and agree 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

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

You will be provided with further details related to your Ocean or River cruise 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 3 days 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 asked to inform Smithsonian Journeys immediately if they develop COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days following the last day of the tour. Travelers agree to be contacted by Smithsonian Journeys for COVID-19 contact tracing efforts if necessary.