With coronavirus vaccinations ramping up, many people are looking forward to traveling again. This may mean planning a summer vacation or even a spring break trip. But the pandemic isn’t over yet, and there are still multiple risks associated with traveling – both to your health and your wallet.
What to Know When Planning a Trip
If you are planning a getaway this spring or summer, BBB recommends the following tips to minimize the risks.
- Understand the risks and delay plans if possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that “COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are extremely high across the United States.” Since travel increases your risk of infection, CDC recommends delaying unnecessary travel plans to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. In addition, if anyone in your household or at your travel destination is at high risk of infection, everyone in the household should act as if they, themselves are at increased risk of infection.
- Research travel restrictions. Travel restrictions vary by state and country and are constantly changing. Visit the U.S. State Department’s “Know Before You Go” page and the CDC Travel Planner to get up-to-date information on COVID-19 related travel restrictions as you plan your trip and as your travel dates approach.
- Take precautions before and after your trip. During the 14 days leading up to your trip, avoid situations that could put you at risk for infection, such as attending large group events or using public transportation, recommends the CDC. Then, get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before you travel and keep a copy of your negative test results with you. After your trip, get tested again 3-5 days after arriving home and make plans to self-quarantine for 7 days after travel, regardless of your test results. The CDC also advises getting vaccinated, if eligible, and waiting until two weeks after your final vaccination dose to travel.
- Pack a “pandemic bag.” Condé Nast Traveler recommends stocking up on pandemic essentials before you head out. Pack a bag with COVID-19 prevention staples including “hand sanitizer, face masks, disinfecting wipes, health insurance cards, a thermometer, latex gloves (for one-time use in public spaces), and hand soap.” If you’ll be on the road for extended periods of time, it’s a good idea to bring drinks and snacks along too so as to avoid unnecessary stops in public places.
- Make flexible travel plans. Flexibility is key during the pandemic. Be willing to pay extra for fully refundable flights, car rentals, and accommodations. Your plans may change last-minute due to an unexpected lockdown or infection.
- Understand what travel insurance covers. CNBC reminds travelers that purchasing travel insurance is wise, but it may not cover every situation. Read the fine print or work with a travel agent to understand how your policy works. Most travel insurance will cover medical expenses if you get sick during your trip or the cost of your trip if you must cancel due to illness, but they may not cover the cost of your trip if you need to cancel because a state or city goes into lockdown unexpectedly. Read BBB’s tips on buying travel insurance.
- Opt for a road trip instead of a flying. Waiting in security lines and sitting on crowded flights will increase your risk of infection, says Nerd Wallet. If you, or anyone you’ll be in contact with, is in a high-risk group, it’s best to drive. Road travel carries risks too, but it’s much easier to mitigate them from within a smaller space you and your family control. Read BBB’s tips on renting an RV and buying camping gear.
- Book accommodations that make it easy to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Business Insider recommends speaking with the hotel or host before you book a stay. Find out what precautions and sanitary measures they are taking in between guests. Inquire about shared facilities, such as gyms, pools, spas and restaurants. In many cases, such facilities could be shut down until further notice. Make sure you are comfortable with the precautions any hotel or vacation rental has in place ahead of time.
- Wear a mask and social distance. To protect yourself and your family, CDC advises travelers to wear a mask, avoid crowded areas and stay at least six feet away from others whenever you are in a public space.
- Enjoy the great outdoors. Hiking and camping at state and national parks are a great way to enjoy warmer weather since they don’t involve sharing indoor spaces with others. If you want to stay a few days, book your campsite well in advance. Parks have become a popular pandemic vacation option and spaces are limited.
For More Information
Stay informed about travel restrictions and the spread of the virus by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel page and the U.S. Travel Association.