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'People are tired of staying at home' | International travel picks up as COVID-19 restrictions ease

Although travelers are no longer required to take a COVID-19 test to get back into the country, travel experts say health and safety should remain top of mind.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — As pandemic-related restrictions ease, more people are eager to travel abroad.

On June 10, the CDC lifted its COVID-19 testing requirement for international travel.

Knoxville travel advisor Gary Teeter said he is getting more business now than he has in four years.

"People are tired of staying at home," Teeter said. "To sum it up, summer is pretty much booked. There is not a lot available."

Although travelers are no longer required to take a COVID-19 test to get back into the country, travel experts say health and safety should remain top of mind.

That's why Teeter highly suggests purchasing travel insurance. 

He said that will cover additional expenses if you get sick abroad or something happens before the trip that prevents you from going.

"It's really, really important to think about, 'Yeah, it could happen,' and when you consider the cost of the insurance versus the cost of payment out of your pocket, it's very cheap," Teeter added.

It's also important to know about current restrictions at your destination. AAA officials said knowing a certain country's regulations before getting there is key. 

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, is a free service provided by the U.S. government that provides information about safety conditions in various countries.

As for physical safety, remember to trust your instincts just as you would at home.

"Be mindful of your valuables. If you have your wallet stowed in a safe spot, if you're in crowds, your purse, just be mindful of all of that," AAA vice president of travel Debbie Haas said.

The death of Robbie and Mike Phillips, a Maryville couple who died while on vacation in the Bahamas, has raised concerns of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The two were found dead on May 6 at Sandals Emerald Bay Resort.

In a statement, resort officials said Bahamian authorities concluded the deaths were "an isolated incident." However, the resort said it would install carbon monoxide detectors in all guest rooms following the incident.

According to the CDC, carbon monoxide does not have a color or smell, making it difficult to detect.

However, there are ways to protect yourself while traveling.

Begin by ensuring your desired hotel, resort or Airbnb has carbon monoxide detectors in all rooms. You can also bring a battery-operated portable one with you.

Staying in well-ventilated rooms where you can open the windows also helps.

Teeter recommends researching the location you're staying at prior to your vacation and ensuring it is a trusted company.

"A reputable, well-established longtime resort is going to take care of things as much as they can. They have a reputation to protect also," Teeter said.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include a headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath and blurred vision.

If you experience any symptoms, get medical help immediately.

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