Updated April 26, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected holiday travel. Many people are understandably worried about traveling and have made the hard decision to stay home. If you decide to travel, make sure you know the risks and take the necessary precautions to keep both you and your loved ones as safe as possible. Travel restrictions and recommendations in the U.S. vary by state; check out the CDC’s guidelines on each state’s current travel requirements. In general, the CDC recommends the following travel tips:
- Get tested before you travel. Although negative Covid tests are usually only required if you’re leaving the country (or visiting states such as Hawaii), it can still be a smart decision to take a Covid test before you decide to travel for the holidays. Give yourself enough time to schedule, take and get the results of a Covid test. People in the United States can contact their state’s health department for testing questions.
- Wear a mask indoors and in any public setting. If you’re taking a plane down south or catching a bus out west, wearing a proper face mask can reduce your chances of getting infected or unknowingly passing the infection on to your fellow passengers. According to the CDC, the most effective masks are made of two or more layers and fit snugly while still being breathable.
- Avoid touching your face mask, eyes, nose and mouth. Not touching your mask can be a challenge, especially when it keeps slipping off your nose, or fogging up your glasses.
- Wash your hands. Be sure to wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (the length of two rounds of the Happy Birthday song!)
- Launder clothing and masks. Whether you’re hosting visitors or visiting someone else, keep your belongings clean and isolated from common areas as soon as you get to your destination.
- Don’t forget the hand sanitizer. Pack plenty of bottles of hand sanitizer. While reputable airlines, bus and train services are taking precautions for COVID-19, you’ll still be in close quarters with many different people. You’ll want to use sanitizer any time you come in contact with people and things at high risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus.
- Minimize your public activities before your trip. Before traveling for the holidays, limit your public engagements. Avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing.
- Have a Covid plan. If you choose to gather with people outside your usual household, you should plan for what to do if you notice a guest experiencing symptoms.
- Follow statewide Covid restrictions. If you’re an American citizen living in an area with a low infection rate, you might be used to less restrictive protocol. However, guidelines differ from state to state. Be sure to adhere to the restrictions enforced by the state you’re visiting. For updated state-by-state COVID-19 advisories check out this interactive map from the New York Times.
You might still be wondering: should I travel during the holidays? Celebrating the winter holidays in person with family and friends is really tempting, but it’s also important to balance your desire to see loved ones with concerns over COVID-19. If you have any anxiety about health and safety while traveling, the best thing to do is stay home.
If you make travel plans, buying travel insurance is incredibly smart in case your travel plans have to change for any reason. Beyond regular insurance, consider purchasing your plan with a Cancel For Any Reason option. That way, if your circumstances change, if there’s a chance you could have been exposed to the coronavirus, or if you just have second thoughts, you can cancel your trip and recoup prepaid travel expenses.
Remember: The precautions we take this year to keep each other safe will make next year’s winter holidays even sweeter.
Safer places to travel
Instead of risking your health or the health of your family, you might think about traveling to countries with a relatively low number of Covid cases or more stringent safety protocols.
Each country’s Covid outbreak is different based on population, adherence to safety protocols and resources, including Covid vaccine supply.
Some countries have open borders while others have not reopened yet. For instance, Costa Rica‘s borders are open, so it may be a perfect place to get away for the winter. The CDC also indicates that countries like Australia, New Zealand, and Greenland have lower COVID numbers, though these countries are closed to some foreign travelers.
Here’s a list of some of the safer travel destinations in 2021.
One last note: Covid guidelines change based on new scientific findings, so as always keep up to date on both your home country’s severity levels and travel restrictions and your desired destination’s levels and restrictions. For the latest on how you can stay safe over the holidays visit cdc.gov.