Now that more and more people are vaccinated and COVID-19 cases seem to be declining in many areas of the country, it’s natural if your thoughts have turned to the open road. But before you jump into the spring travel season, there’s a lot to think about.
COVID-19 is still with us—and may be for many more months. So here are a few smart things to know before you make any travel plans.
Staying home is still safest
Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and other people from getting COVID-19. Any type of travel increases your risk for catching and spreading the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even if you’ve been vaccinated, CDC says, it still may be possible to give the virus to your loved ones and others you encounter.
If you’re considering traveling anyway, do a little research before you make a decision:
Find out how active COVID-19 is at home and at your destination. The more cases there are, the higher your chances for getting infected or spreading the virus yourself.
Look into who’s at risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Older people, smokers, pregnant women and people with certain underlying conditions are more likely to get seriously ill. If you, someone you live with or someone you’re thinking of visiting falls into one of those groups, traveling may not be worth the risk.
Think through the logistics. CDC recommends that you get tested with a viral test one to three days before your trip—and again three to five days after your trip. You can search for destination-specific guidance at CDC’s website.
If you decide to go
Some types of travel are more risky than others. The more stops you make and more time you spend in public areas, the riskier it gets. If possible, travel in a way that poses the least risk to yourself and others. Short trips with no stops, for example, are safer than longer road trips. And traveling only with people you live with is safer than traveling with people from other households.
No matter how you travel, take steps to protect yourself and others. Be sure to:
Get vaccinated if you are eligible. Wait at least two weeks after your last shot to travel.
Pack protective gear. Before you leave on your trip, stock up on personal protective supplies. Bring with you:
- Extra masks.
- A sealable plastic bag to store wet or dirty masks.
- Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Sanitizing wipes.
Always wear a mask in public. This includes on public transit and in transportation hubs like airports, bus stations and rest stops.
Stay at least 6 feet from others. Avoid shared rides where multiple passengers from different households are picked up.
Wash your hands often. Or use hand sanitizer after touching things like turnstiles, hand rails and gas station pumps. Wash your hands after arriving at your destination too.
Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes. Wash your hands before touching your face.
Bring your own road food. If that’s not feasible, opt for drive-thru, delivery or take-out options.
Improve ventilation. Open windows when you can. If you’re in a taxi or ride-share vehicle, ask the driver to set the air ventilation on non-recirculation mode. If you’re on a plane, point your overhead air nozzle at your head and turn it on full for your entire trip.
To find more of the latest pandemic news, visit our Coronavirus health topic center.