Spring is here and Memorial Day weekend is approaching. Now that many of us are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, this change in season has sparked in us a desire to travel. This urge to travel however prompts the inevitable question: how safe is travel right now?
How safe travel is of course depends on a number of factors, including your destination, mode of travel, and your health and vaccination status. We’re here to provide answers to some of your questions regarding travel and to share some resources to help you plan a trip that will be safer for you and your loved ones.
Domestic Versus International Travel
If you are fully vaccinated, traveling within the United States can be safe. International travel presents more risks, even to fully vaccinated individuals. This heightened risk is due to the fact that travelling internationally could increase your exposure to new COVID-19 variants. This being said, travelers who are fully vaccinated are less likely to get and spread COVID-19 to others.1 You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after you have received your second Pfizer or Moderna shot or two weeks are you have received your Johnson & Johnson shot. For those who are not fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends that you delay both international and domestic travel until you are fully vaccinated.2
Rules for Safer Travel
Travelling with members of your household and limiting your contact to those who are fully vaccinated is the safest way to travel. Whether you are fully vaccinated or not, you should continue to follow the CDC’s recommendations for safe travelling. Persons who are fully vaccinated should adhere to the following rules:
- Wear a mask over your mouth and nose
- Stay 6 feet from others
- Avoid crowds
- Wash hands often or use hand sanitizer
When you return home from your trip, you should monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms. If you or a member of your household develops COVID-19 symptoms, you should isolate and get tested.
Persons who travel before they are fully vaccinated will need to take some additional steps to protect themselves. In addition to following the rules listed above, unvaccinated individuals should get tested for the coronavirus 1-3 days before travelling and 3-5 days after returning home. Such individuals should stay home and self-quarantine for a full week (7 days) after returning home. For persons who do not get tested after returning home, they should stay home and self-quarantine for ten days after returning home. You should also avoid being around individuals who are at increased risk for severe illness for two weeks after your trip, regardless of whether or not you have been tested.3
When should you stay home and not travel?
Anyone who is ill and has symptoms of COVID-19 should not travel. In addition, persons who have recently tested positive for the coronavirus should stay home. Lastly, if, within the last two weeks, you were exposed to someone with suspected or diagnosed COVID-19, do not travel. To learn more about who should not travel, click here. You can consider getting travel insurance to cover some costs in case you have to cancel or reschedule your trip. If you are interested in obtaining a travel insurance policy, make sure you understand what the policy covers and does not cover.
Many places have imposed restrictions on travelers, such as testing or quarantine requirements. You can use the CDC’s Travel Planner for look up travel regulations for destinations inside the United States by clicking here. AAA also has a travel restrictions map which provides helpful information about state and local travel restrictions. Click here to access the map.
For those considering a trip to Europe, the European Union plans to let vaccinated individuals travel within the bloc’s 27 member states over the summer. Click here to learn more.
Those of you who are eager to go on a cruise can click here to learn more about when cruises will restart and what to expect.
Auto Travel: Tips and Guidance
While many Americans are vaccinated, COVID-19 continues to pose a risk to people both in and outside the US. This ongoing risk has led many Americans to opt for car travel. Taking a road trip can be a good option for those who want to get away but who remain wary of being on crowded forms of transport, like airplanes.
For those looking to rent a car, you can ask your rental company what has been done to clean the vehicle. If you’re nervous, bring disinfecting wipes and wipe down high-touch surfaces in the car, such as the steering wheel and the door handles. Packing a first aid kit can help you prepare for unexpected illness or injury. You should also pack extra masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and extra food so that you are prepared for all kinds of situations.
If you’re planning on travelling across multiple states, be prepared for the COVID-19 guidelines to change as you move from state to state. Stay on top of local news and updates in all the areas you will visit. As with any road trip, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is up to the task by making sure your battery, oil, and tire pressure are all able to handle the trip. In addition to making sure your vehicle is in good shape, plan your itinerary. Be mindful that some roads, parks, or other destinations may be closed or may require reservations. For example, Yosemite National Park is requiring that visitors make a reservation before they enter the park in order to limit crowds.
Lastly, drive safely. You do not want to get in a car accident and end up needing to go to a hospital. Seniors planning to drive long distances should read this article on driving safety tips for seniors.
For more information on road trip tips and COVID-19, check out this article from AAA.