With summer nearing and Covid-19 restrictions lightening, many people are eager to get back to traveling after over a year of staying at home. As you begin to plan your next trip and pack your suitcase, another thing to check off your to-do list is making sure that you are following recommendations on how to safely travel during the pandemic. Based on where and how you are traveling, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has different recommendations to keep you and others healthy.
For domestic trips, the safest option is to be fully vaccinated before travel, which means two weeks have passed since your first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two weeks after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Being fully vaccinated means there is no need to get a Covid-19 test or self-quarantine before or after traveling. Even with a vaccine, travelers should still follow face mask requirements for travel, keep six feet from others not in your travel party and wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Upon your return home, it is important to monitor symptoms and follow your state and local guidelines. Those who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past three months should follow the same CDC recommendations as those who are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated travelers should follow the same guidelines as those who are fully vaccinated, along with additional precautions regarding testing and quarantine. Those traveling should get a Covid-19 test one to three days before their trip and another test three to five days after their return. Additionally, the CDC recommends self-quarantining for seven days after travel if tested and ten days if not tested.
For international travel, the CDC offers more strict guidelines, even for those who are fully vaccinated. Overall, travelers should still follow social distancing and mask requirements. Additionally, the U.S. requires a negative Covid-19 result no more than three days or documentation if you have had Covid-19 within three months before travel into the country, even for those returning home. Upon return home, travelers should get a Covid-19 test three to five days after travel and watch for symptoms. If you are unvaccinated, the CDC protocols are the same for domestic travel, in addition to the requirement of a negative Covid-19 test result before returning home.
For all types of travel, people should try to only have contact with those in their travel party and avoid large crowds. When booking a flight, try to look for those with the shortest and least amount of layovers and make sure to choose an airline that prioritizes Covid-19 safety by having reduced capacity on planes and enforce mask requirements. Road trips with those in your household or people who are fully vaccinated are the safest option, especially when making minimal stops. The methods of travel that people should try to avoid are cruise ships, river boats or long-distance trips on train or bus. The safest place to stay is in homes with family members or other fully vaccinated people, but hotels are still safer options than large shared housing, such as hostels. When eating, outdoor seating or socially-distanced seating provide safe options, but the best alternatives are getting takeout, drive-thru, curbside pick-up or bringing your own food.
Generally, travelers should check the Covid-19 guidelines at their travel destination and their return destination to make sure they are following proper protocols and fulfill any requirements. If you are feeling unwell, you may need to postpone your trip in order to protect other travelers. Additionally, avoid touching high contact surfaces as much as possible, sanitize frequently, maintain social distancing and wear a mask. Even with all of the guidelines and recommendations that have been brought about by Covid-19, traveling can still be a fun and safe experience to help bring some excitement and positivity amidst the pandemic.