Updated October 24, 2022
We at Travel Montana have been ahead of the curve in terms of keeping our travelers safe since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. We canceled most of our 2020 tours and created a series of “Travel Safe” video updates on traveling during the pandemic. In early 2021 we announced all travelers would be required to be vaccinated or show a negative COVID test. For the 2023 travel season, although we have all learned to live with COVID, it is still our responsibility to make sure COVID impacts our travelers as little as possible. While each of us gets to make our own decisions as to our comfort level regarding COVID risks and which precautions to take, when you sign up for a group tour in which you will be in close contact with others, all of us need to be more cautious than we might be at home.
Starting in 2023 we will no longer require proof of COVID vaccination. The reality is the original one or two dose vaccine no longer protects us that well and, as there is no government definition of what “fully vaccinated” means, we cannot try to mandate a specific number of vaccines. Having said that, we do know being up to date on your vaccines goes a LONG way towards reducing the risk of serious illness and shortens your time of infection. Most of our travelers will be fully vaccinated and we highly recommend it.
We strongly suggest you do a rapid (antigen) COVID test prior to taking a plane flight to your tour location. If you will be traveling for more than two days prior to the start of your tour, we also recommend taking a test just before the tour. Studies have shown that rapid tests can catch between 44 and 70% of asymptomatic COVID cases and these pre-tour tests can help reduce the likelihood you will be quarantining in some hotel and reduce the likelihood you will spread COVID to others. We also require you to bring two rapid tests on the tour, so you can immediately take a test if you feel ill. If our guides ask you to test, you will be required to do so. Testing is critical to keeping COVID infections away from our tours.
Travel to Your Tour
We have found the greatest risk of infection to our travelers is not on our tours but during travel to our tours. This is the time period when you are exposed to many other people, at close quarters, most of whom are not wearing masks. Studies have suggested the risk of contracting COVID on flights is actually fairly low if you keep your mask on throughout the flight, regardless of what your seat mate does. This has certainly been our experience and we strongly suggest you be that person who wears a mask in the airport, on the airplane, and on local transportation as you make your way to your tour.
Tour Safety Precautions
- Our small-group tours are safer than larger bus tours or cruises and outdoor, active travel is by its nature safer since infections are much rarer outdoors.
- We will provide an introductory briefing on the first day of your tour about precautions we should all take.
- We will move as many activities (introductions, morning meetings, meals, etc) outside as possible.
- We ask all participants to have a face mask available. It will be up to individuals whether and when to wear their masks.
Higher Risk Travelers
If you are at higher risk or just have a low risk tolerance, you are welcome to implement even stricter measures on our tours. You can choose to drive yourself to a tour, including from hotel to hotel. You can choose to eat with your own travel party at dinner or take meals back to your room. You can choose to skip any group activities we have planned.
We have always been focused on safety, with our guides being trained in first aid and CPR. We are prepared to offer you small-group active travel vacations in as safe and responsible a manner as possible. Most importantly, we know you want to travel and we will be there for you when you are ready!