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How to Travel Safely During COVID-19

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Travel safe and have fun.

While many travel options are limited to emergency needs only, like international trips, there are still plenty of ways to have a summer vacation in 2020. Travel can be a wonderful way to relieve stress, expand horizons and make memories. But in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, you should take care to do any traveling (near and far from home) safely.


1. Limit travel distances and be flexible

Vacations are, essentially, non-essential travel at their core. If one of your group is sick, or you’re living in a high-risk community, you may want to just plan some backyard camping and not risk spreading the virus. Even if you’re not showing symptoms, you should take care to keep all health guidelines from local, state and federal health officials.

The CDC recommends non-essential travel be kept as close to home as possible. That’s because when you go on even a road trip that’s spread out over several days, you have more chances to interact with others at gas stations, restaurants and even hotels. The less interactions or high-traffic touch points you encounter, the better. This summer might be a perfect time to explore what’s going on in your nearby community. All those places you’ve “always wanted to go but never have” would make for a good day trip or quick adventure in 2020.


2. Vacation with a close group

You can decide to quarantine with another family as long as you are all on the same page in terms of health and safety adherence. You should have a discussion with your proposed vacation buddies ahead of time to make sure you agree on how you feel most comfortable eating out (or not) and interacting with public spaces on a trip. If, however, you discover you don’t meet eye-to-eye, it might serve your health better to take that trip with just your own family, and not expand the group.


3. Choose low-risk destinations where you can keep your distance

There are vacation locations that have been singled out as low or high risk. Depending on how you interact with them, you might make your plans to head somewhere that poses little health risk this summer. Pools, lakes and even beaches can be a low risk, since the CDC points out that water itself doesn’t pose a high-viral transmission risk. However — and this is key — you have to think about the people element at each location. Crowds at the beach or even at a pool entrance or snack area can increase your risk of contracting or spreading the virus. It can be especially hard to encourage young children, who always seem to make new best friends at the pool or beach, to not interact or get close to others. If you can’t keep your group at a safe distance, you should consider a more private adventure.


4. Clean, clean, clean

Before, during and after your trip, you should take care to clean your hands regularly, but especially after touching surfaces where the virus could be transmitted. If you happen to vacation in a hotel room, rental home or with a rental car or even a rented boat, you should start out by wiping down surfaces with an approved viral-killing cleaner. Regular hand washing after bathroom trips, before eating and after interacting in public areas can also help keep the virus away.


5. Make masks part of your summer wardrobe

The CDC, WHO and medical professionals keep reminding the public that wearing a mask when you’re not at home is the best way to slow the spread of the virus. It’s a simple way to keep transmission down no matter where you roam. Masks don’t have to be complicated (you should leave N95 masks for medical professionals), but you should have an assortment of ones that fit properly over your nose and mouth. Have a variety so you can change your mask during your vacation after each use. Wash masks in hot water, even in a sink, with soap and hang to dry and you can have an easy rotation of masks available. Even disposable medical masks are becoming more available at drug stores and other locations as demand slows down. If you’re not into making your own mask, you can try clothing retailers from Old Navy to major high-fashion brands, and many many others who are jumping in to the mask world with patterns that show off your personality, too.


6. Keep up with travel restrictions

It seems that every day or even every hour there are new travel restrictions and rules about quarantining if you’re traveling from out of state to another location. Keep informed about travel restrictions as you plan vacations that take you out of state or from areas that are experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases. Check to see if you’ll have to take a pause if you’re heading in to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, for example, if you’re coming in from a state with a high positive test-rate. Or, until July 23 (at least) it is not permitted to cross the land border between the U.S. and Canada or Mexico for non-essential travel. The travel websites Kayak and Travel + Leisure (among many others) are keeping up-to-date travel restriction details for each state in the U.S., but you should do a quick check even the day of your departure to make sure.

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