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Travel tips during a pandemic

April 15, 2021

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Many would say Covid has redefined vacation travel. Many have been forced to cancel trips and reconsider what to do, where to go, and safety precautions. Some would say traveling during a pandemic is unnecessary and dangerous, however, now that borders are opening up and vaccines are out officials say it’s safe to travel. Although traveling does increase the spread and getting Covid-19, there are ways to travel in a safe and cautious manner so you can enjoy a getaway while protecting yourself from Covid.

If eligible, get fully vaccinated
If you’re eligible, get fully vaccinated against Covid. The Covid vaccine prevents you from getting Covid and has shown to be highly effective against the virus in the United States. Once vaccinated, wait a full two weeks after getting your second vaccine dose to travel. It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination.

Get tested
Whether or not it helps you avoid quarantine, get tested before and after your trip. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting a viral test one to three days before and after your travels. Make sure to also keep a copy of your negative results with you when arriving at your destination. In fact, many countries require a negative test result to enter. If at any point you test positive, stay home. Immediately isolate yourself and follow public health recommendations.

Know the Covid rate where you’re staying
No matter where you’re going and how many precautions you take, traveling when widely circulating carries some risk. In most of the United States, Covid rates are reaching new highs, which means your community likely has more circulating viruses than it did this summer.

There are a few reasons to know the infection rate of where you’re staying. For example, if you’re traveling by plane from an area with many Covid cases, the odds will be higher that a passenger near you will have the disease, which would then raise your infection risk, says the CDC. Some states like Connecticut started requiring physical proof of a negative Covid test to enter the state, others require a 14-day quarantine if you’re coming from a state with high infection rates.

Be cautious of where to stay

Hotels have now taken Covid very seriously with proper sanitizing the guest rooms and common areas. Some also allow rooms to be unoccupied for 2-3 days between guests to allow any virus in the air time to die off. So if you do decide to stay in a hotel, experts suggest looking at reviews of how much cleaning is done beforehand, and always sanitize the room before getting comfortable.

Some travelers are now choosing to rent an entire house/apartments from Airbnb and Vrbo to not worry about staying with others in the same people and passing people in the lobby. However, these are homes that are owned by individuals so the sanitation will vary.  As soon as you arrive, open any windows for a little while to bring fresh air in, disinfect all surfaces yourself, especially light switches, sink faucet handles, doorknobs, and remote controls.

Cook at home, or get take out
One of the many risks of traveling us figuring out what to do about the meals you’ll be eating. Although eating outdoors at a restaurant is relatively safe, many weather conditions prevent the experience. Specialists say to avoid the risk of leaving where you’re staying, getting takeout, or cooking your own food while traveling is the safest.

If you are planning on eating out once in a while Be sure every restaurant is following proper protocol, such as ensuring that staff and wandering patrons are wearing masks and that tables are set far enough apart to allow for social distancing. One sign an establishment is taking the virus seriously is when it goes above and beyond, such as by ditching reusable menus for digital ones.

Be cautious of the activities you do
There may be many activities you’d love to do on vacation before Covid, but it may not be safest to do them now. Bars, karaoke cafes, theme parks with inside rides, and other indoor activities will put you at increased risk of getting sick. Instead, find activities that keep you outside and distanced from others. For example, if you’re vacationing at the beach try and keep a safe distance from others. Some venues are offering creative, safe entertainment, such as drive-in movies and concerts.

If you aren’t positive about the activity you are doing, there is an app where you can input the information about your planned activity and it spits out the risk based on virus spread where you are. It’s called Interactive Covid risk app and can be found on the App store or Google Play.

Avoid public transportation
If traveling by bus or train, be aware of sitting or standing within 6-feet of others for a prolonged period can put you at higher risk of getting or spreading the coronavirus. It is important to follow as many precautions as possible!

Even if you fly, you may need transportation once you arrive at your destination. You can investigate car rental options and their disinfection policies on the internet. If you plan to stay at a hotel, check into shuttle service availability. If you’ll be using public transportation, maintain social distancing, wear a mask, and use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after reaching your destination.

If you are safe and you are smart about your travels during the pandemic you should be at low risk of getting infected. However remember to evaluate at every turn, with a contagious virus around, safety has to take a higher priority than everything else.

About the Writer
Photo of Rand Al-Safi
Rand Al-Safi, FCHS Journalist

Rand is a sophomore in her first year of journalism. She competes in track and field, can speak Arabic fluently, and likes to run, read, and paint.

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Travel tips during a pandemic