“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” – Unknown.
For the millions of Americans who sought to travel but faced restrictions due to the pandemic, having patience and maintaining a positive attitude were quite challenging. Many travel plans, including business and pleasure trips, family reunions, and honeymoons, were put on indefinite hold. However, now that over 66,203,000 Americans have been fully vaccinated as of April 8, 2021, per CDC, attention is turning toward traveling domestically and overseas. Despite receiving full vaccinations, some breakthrough infections may occur, and the vaccines may not cover variants of the virus. Thus, it’s crucial for travelers to continue to practice safety measures as related to COVID-19.
- Become fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine. The CDC explains that a person is not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after the second dose of a two-series vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks after a single dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
- Follow infection rates of your travel destination to understand your risk fully. Those with lower immunity may consider postponing trips or vacations to protect themselves until the threat of COVID-19 is lessened.
- Make sure your medical health insurance is up-to-date and valid for where you are traveling.
- Know what charges you may incur should you suddenly postpone your trip or have your return trip delayed. Create a backup plan should something go wrong.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance that may cover you for cancellation due to illness or other reasons. Understand policy details such as inclusions/exclusions.
- Do not travel if you feel sick or test positive for COVID-19. Additionally, avoid traveling with anyone else who is sick.
- If traveling by air, understand the documentation and testing requirements of your airline.
- Know what COVID-19 testing is required for travel to your specific destination and to return home. Understand out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance.
- Review quarantine practices of your hotel to learn how they are enforcing safety.
- Plan to travel in small socially distancing groups and avoid close contact with unvaccinated people to maximize your safety.
- Choose off-peak hours to travel if possible and arrange flights with the fewest stops and layovers.
- Make sure your medical prescriptions and refills are up to date and filled before traveling. Talk to your medical doctor about taking supplements such as vitamins that may help strengthen your immunity when traveling.
- Safeguard your COVID-19 vaccination card and keep a copy handy should you lose the original.
- Wear a mask (or double layer if recommended) over both the mouth and nose when traveling.
- Try your best to stay 6-feet from strangers and avoid crowds when possible. Avoid walking close to others. Attempt to maintain social distances in airport lines, etc.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Clean and disinfect rental cars (steering wheels, door handles, gear shifts, etc.)
- If available, use alcohol wipes to disinfect surfaces you must touch. Also, use touchless payments wherever possible.
- Avoid indoor areas that do not offer fresh air, such as enclosed restaurants or waiting areas.
- If traveling by rental car, ventilate the vehicle while in transit. Sit away from the driver in a taxi or Uber.
- On buses, trains, and planes, sit rows/seats apart from others if you can.
- Do not eat or drink on public transit as it requires removing your mask. Instead, eat or drink before you travel.
- When feasible, pack your own food and drink, plates, cups, and cutlery. Limit stops at rest areas when driving and eat outdoors away from other people.
- Avoid large group activities and avoid swimming areas such as beaches and pools, hot tubs, and shared playgrounds that may put you in close contact with others.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue away from others if you can. Then discard tissue and hand wash. Carry clean masks with you as spares, should your mask become soiled or wet due to inclement weather.
- Follow state and local recommendations. Currently, if you are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 in the last three months, you do not need to get tested or self-quarantine when traveling domestically in the U.S. However, continually monitor regulations for changes.
- Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms after traveling. Per CDC instructions, isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
- If you have just returned from travel to a location where COVID-19 numbers are up or variants are common, avoid close contact with others for a two-week period following your return. It’s especially important to take precautions near individuals with lower immunities, preexisting conditions, and advanced age.
As we begin to emerge from our cocoons, vaccinated individuals may once again travel to see family members and visit new places. However, we must remain diligent in protecting ourselves and others so that we can together reduce the transmission and spread of COVID-19. Unvaccinated people should discuss the safety and efficacy of the vaccine with their medical doctors and dialogue about ways to stay safe if they are required to travel.
For more helpful information on travel during COVID-19, please visit cdc.gov.
This content is purely informational and is not a substitute for medical advice.
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