5 Essential Tips for Traveling During COVID
As the vaccine rollout against COVID-19 in the United States started to ramp up this past spring, many of us started making travel plans to make up for lost time. Following a period of low case numbers and broader nationwide re-openings, the panorama has changed once again. The surge of the delta variant of the coronavirus – and the persistence of low-vaccine "bubbles" across the country – have us wondering if it's still safe to travel, and how we can do so.
Inspired by the comprehensive and science-based information shared by Dr. Stacy De-Lin, M.D. on Instagram, we put together this list of five essential tips for traveling during COVID. Read on, share with your friends and family, and stay healthy!
5 Essential Trips for Traveling During COVID
1. No Vaccine, No Travel
Before we delve into specific tips, the reality is this: If you are not vaccinated, you should not be traveling. It's as simple as that. The surging delta variant has changed the game and puts unvaccinated people – and those that they come into contact with – at extreme risk for getting sick. Unfortunately, those that are not vaccinated are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and even death.
This sounds intense, we know. But luckily, the best and easiest solution is to get a vaccine. You will be protected against serious illness while keeping those around you safe as well. As a plus, you'll be able to travel both domestically and internationally with a lot more confidence!
2. International Trips: Consider Your Destination
There are both ethical and practical questions to consider when making travel plans right now. For example, does the country you intend to visit have vaccines available for its citizens? Is there a possibility that you might infect local people with your arrival? As for the current COVID context, what are their case rates and their masking laws like? And in the case that you were to fall ill, could their hospitals care for you if you get sick?
3. Game Plan for Returning to the U.S.
No matter where you are traveling, the U.S. requires a negative PCR to gain re-entry from abroad. Therefore, you'll need to think about what to do in the off chance that your test results are positive. What does your quarantine plan like? Will you be able to quarantine at your current lodging, or does the local government require sick travelers to make other arrangements?
Bear in mind that sometimes, people test positive for 1 month, even though their infection has already run its course. Will you be able to manage this – both logistically and financially – in the case that this happens to you?
4. Flying with Confidence
While flying, you'll want to feel safe and secure with the highest-quality face mask. N95 or KN95 masks are a must; they are widely available and can be purchased from a variety of online retailers. Make sure it fits well and do not take it off at any time during travel or transit. This means you'll want to avoid hanging out at airport bars, restaurants, etc.
In the air, you can remove your mask briefly to eat or drink, but remember to leave it on at all other times. It's still a federal FAA regulation to wear proper face coverings at airports and on planes; make the jobs of airport employees and flight attendants easier by complying with the rules!
5. What About Traveling Domestically?
This advice applies not just to international travel; the U.S. is one of the nations hardest-hit by the delta variant of COVID-19. Even if you're planning on traveling within your country's borders, take note of rising case numbers and vaccination rates. Let's look at the state of Florida: Orlando's hospitals are overwhelmed right now. This means that if you go to Disney World and break your ankle, for example, they might not be able to treat you.
There are other implications of the public health crisis. In the case of Orlando, because liquid oxygen typically used to purify water is being diverted to the area's hospitals, the city is at risk of running out of clean water.
Knowledge is power, and staying informed on best practices, the current COVID-19 panorama, and what is required of travelers like you is imperative. While we're still not back to what we understand as "normal," traveling during the pandemic is possible. Get your vaccine, be smart and realistic about the plans you hope to make, and leave some wiggle room for last-minute changes. With these tips in your back pocket, you'll be good to go.