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What You Need to Know About Summer Travel for 2021

With COVID-19 restrictions easing up and vaccinations now widely available, many people are looking forward to a more exciting, carefree summer. But before you book any big vacations, you should take a close look at the current travel recommendations set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These best practices are a helpful guide on what to avoid and how to travel safely this summer. Here’s a short list of what you should know, but be sure to check the CDC’s website regularly to stay as up to date as possible as the months go by. 

Where Should I Travel To? 

Generally speaking, travel to nearby destinations is preferable to faraway trips. The longer distance you need to travel, the greater likelihood that you will come into contact with more people. Close interpersonal contact is how COVID-19 is spread, so avoiding this is recommended. 

For domestic travel, it is advised to delay until you are fully vaccinated. Travelers who are fully vaccinated do not need to get tested or self-quarantine unless they develop symptoms. Even if you are fully vaccinated, however, you should still adhere to other safety precautions such as washing or sanitizing hands, avoiding crowds, and wearing a mask where required. The CDC outlines these recommendations in greater depth on its website. 

For international travel, full vaccination is also recommended. Depending on the destination country, there may be additional COVID-19 rules or protocol in place that you’ll need to adhere to. When returning from travel, you should get tested 3-5 days after getting back. The CDC also offers detailed guidelines for international travel. 

If you are not fully vaccinated and still need to travel, you will need to follow a stricter routine. This includes testing both before and after travel, as well as staying home for a self-quarantine to ensure you are not infecting others.

How Should I Travel? 

Because COVID-19 is spread through close contact with others, you should aim to travel either alone or with members of your household. The more people you come into contact with in your travels, the greater your risk for contracting or spreading the virus. 

When traveling by car, rest stops can pose the most risk as they are a popular detour for many people on road trips. Traveling via an RV is a safer option because it requires fewer stops and less interaction, but that may not always be possible.

For trains and buses, you will be exposed to more people. It’s very likely that you will be within six feet of strangers for a length of time during your trip. If these are your best options, try to create as much physical distance as possible between you and other travelers, and be sure to wear a mask for the duration of the trip. 

If you’re flying to your destination, there are additional risk factors to consider. While the plane itself is a relatively safe environment due to the constant air circulation, it is still important to wear a mask and distance as much as possible. Additionally, it is important to be aware of the shared surfaces you touch throughout the check-in process and before you board the plane. The CDC has released a number of suggestions on making your trip even safer. 

What Travel Precautions Should I Take? 

Planning appropriate accommodations is another step to consider when traveling this summer. Again, you will want to be as removed from other people as possible. The best options include staying with other vaccinated friends and family or getting a personal vacation rental home. Hotels and staying with unvaccinated people are less safe options, and staying in an open group setting (e.g., a hostel) with more common space and no private rooms is the least recommended choice. 

Even the food you have during your travels can affect the safety of your overall trip. Bringing food from home is the best option, followed by ordering drive-through, delivery, or curbside pickup. Dining outdoors at a restaurant or inside with proper COVID-19 protocol in place is less safe but still better than eating at crowded venues or buffets. 

The most important consideration is also the most obvious — if you’re sick, do not travel. This means that if you are experiencing symptoms or have tested positive, you should delay your trip. If someone you’ve been in contact with has tested positive, then you should also reschedule. The CDC created a list of scenarios when travelling is not advised. 

And no matter what, using a mask and disinfecting hands and surfaces is always a good preventative option, regardless of vaccination status!

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