What does traveling in a pandemic look like?
Otherwise entitled: What can I expect on FHR Study Tours in 2021?
Each year, our research team leads small group, intimate study tours across various countries in Europe. In 2020, our Study Tour to Italy was postponed due to the pandemic, but this fall (2021), our team is playing catch-up and leading not one but TWO international travel tours.
We are heading to England late August for our previously planned 2021 Study Tour and hosting the rescheduled Italy Tour late September. Early Bird discounted registration for both trips is still available.
What can you expect if you join us? Traveling this fall, if done correctly, can provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit a new area without large crowds. Hotels, restaurants, and other services are eager to welcome you back. This can provide a unique and exclusive experience for amazing low travel prices, unsurpassed quality and service, and rare access to benefits not typically available. To make this happen, some unique safety precautions will be in place. Here's a peek at the most commonly asked questions:
Will we need our vaccines before we go?
Our Study Tours begin and end inside international borders; we do not manage your international travel or your entry into the country. We will, however, provide reminders and tips for ensuring that your documentation is in order to help you be prepared for border security.
ITALY: The European Union has stated that Americans who are fully vaccinated will be welcomed for travel "this summer." Participants who are fully vaccinated will not be required to quarantine upon entry. Our trip to the EU begins late September. We have scheduled ample time for the EU to not only reopen to American visitors, but for the new systems of entry post-COVID-19 lockdown to be tested and settled prior to our travel.
ENGLAND: Officials in England (which is no longer part of the EU) have established late May 2021 as the goal for reopening for international travel. This goal is subject to meeting internal scientific benchmarks and specific details on entry requirements have not been released to the public. Our travel in late August provides ample time for hiccups and delays with their reopening strategy.
It is likely that both England and Italy will require evidence of full vaccination for unrestricted entry. Vaccinations are now available for anyone in the US who is 16+ years old. Our team strongly recommends obtaining the COVID-19 vaccine prior to travel regardless of border entry requirements simply because we are still in a pandemic. If you refuse vaccination, our team cannot be held responsible if you are unable to attend activities due to being denied entry at the border.
What about masks?
Airlines will likely continue to require masks during travel, both domestic and international. When you book your international travel, we recommend choosing airlines which meet your goals for health and disease mitigation.
Once you join the tour, our team will require a mask during all indoor activities and when traveling on trains or coaches. Many of our scheduled activities are outdoors. During outdoor activities, our team will not require masks, but you may be required to wear one by third parties who provide services for our tours OR by local authorities. We recommend packing masks you find comfortable and will have extra disposable masks should you find yourself without one.
Will we still get to do everything?
Absolutely! Our Study Tours provide exclusive, intimate experiences. These naturally fall into the low-risk category for activities and entertainment. This ensures that our team will be able to provide the full experience with minimal modifications to protect from disease risk.
As a precaution, our team has also scheduled back-up activities and plans for each day of the study tour should one of the third parties we enlist to help us provide these services be unable to deliver. This is our typical approach to Study Tours anyway given the ongoing risk of infectious disease and the unpredictable nature of international travel, which means the pandemic will not disrupt in-country activities any more than we already expect.
What about new variants and outbreaks?
Our team consists of public health professionals who have been closely monitoring the situation. Prior to every international study tour, we monitor health threats to determine safety for our team. When COVID-19 arose, we decided to postpone Study Tours twice, and we will continue to monitor for safety.
Current evidence indicates that the vaccines are highly effective against both common and many new strains, and current international reopening strategies reflect evidence-based approaches to safety. It is our professional opinion that the activities we have scheduled pose no more risk than any other tour for vaccinated participants. However, as we always do, we will continue to monitor for safety and should an event occur which indicates that the activities we have scheduled are no longer relatively safe, we will postpone either trip to Spring 2022. In that event, you will be notified with your options.
What if I register but am unable to travel?
Our team strongly recommends trip insurance for Study Tours. Our cancellation and refund policy does not cover illness or emergencies should you be unable to attend. Trip insurance options can help you obtain a refund for your airfare and recover lost expenses due to your illness or emergency. In rare circumstances, with sufficient notice, our team is able to apply your deposit or registration fees to a future trip. Should an event arise which prevents your travel, contact our team as soon as possible to discuss options.
Meet Dr Hawkins
Dr. Hawkins brings 20 years of expertise in the integrative health field to her role as Executive Director of the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences and the leader of our clinical research team.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Health from Union Institute and University, a Master’s Degree in Health Education & Promotion from the University of Alabama, a post-graduate certificate in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a PhD in Health Research from Middle Tennessee State University, and is completing the post-doctoral Global Scholars Research Training Program at Harvard Medical School. She also holds certifications in numerous natural health fields including aromatherapy, aromatic medicine, herbalism, childbirth education, and labor support.