To travel or not to travel? That is the question that is running through many people’s minds right now. Not only because it’s that time of year where traveling is typically at its peak, but also, it’s during the pandemic that is still affecting many countries, even with the infection rates dropping and more people getting vaccinated. In addition, the economy is opening up for many states and some countries, allowing people to move about again. Other questions you may ask are, “How safe is it to travel on a plane, train, or bus? What countries or states are allowing visitors with or without quarantine?” Once you find out the answers to these questions, you have to prepare yourself for travel mentally before physically getting yourself out the door to your destination. Even for vaccinated people, the thought of sitting next to a person who may not be vaccinated and infected is still a big concern. But, of course, living in fear should never stop us from doing what makes us happy and seeing the world if we choose. However, this fear is different, one we all have been living and coping with for over a year. Below are tips on how to best mentally and safely prepare for your next trip, as well as other travel tips during this unprecedented time.
Safety First and Foremost
The first question you should ask yourself before deciding on a destination to travel to is, are you healthy physically and mentally to travel? If you are not feeling sick, have been tested, or have been vaccinated against Covid-19, it is safe to assume that you can travel. And also, if you feel comfortable sitting near others in a crowded situation where people may not be wearing masks, then you should be fine. The next step is to check the Covid-19 rate where you live. Even if you are vaccinated, if the numbers are high in your community, you’re still at a greater risk of developing Covid-19, though breakthrough infections are rare and mild. So if you are traveling by air, bus, or train where the infection rate is high, you have a higher chance of being in contact with a passenger that could be infected. That can be more problematic if not everyone in your party is vaccinated. You will also want to assess the infection rates at your travel destination. It’s best to stay away from a location with high infection rates for your safety. You can check out the location’s public health department website for more information. You may also want to think about testing before you travel if you are not vaccinated. Getting a negative result will decrease your chances of unknowingly spreading it to others. Some international destinations require a test before you can gain entry, even if you are vaccinated. You will also need to get tested before coming back to the states as well. Some domestic destinations may require testing, so make sure to check online for entry regulations of Covid-19.
Your Preferred Mode of Travel
Driving is the safest mode of travel for everyone as far as feeling comfortable being in an enclosed space with others who may or not be infected. But depending on where you are traveling, that may not be a feasible option. Flying is relatively safe since all airlines require passengers to wear a mask whether they are vaccinated or not unless eating or drinking; this is because 40% of filtered air is through their HEPA system. The remaining 60% of the air is freshly piped from outside of the plane. Traveling by bus may be riskier, especially for those not vaccinated since the ventilation system may not be as good as that on a plane. Regardless of which mode of travel you choose, vaccinated people are safer against Covid than unvaccinated. But everyone should still be vigilant about wearing a mask in any crowded situation and washing their hands often.
It’s Ok To Be a Clean Freak
Whether or not you choose to stay in a hotel or a vacation rental, it’s always a good habit to make sure the space is clean. To be extra cautious, use antibacterial wipes to disinfect light switches, doorknobs, TV remotes, and other objects that you may touch. You don’t have to obsess and clean every single thing, just the things you will be using. Even though the risk of contracting Covid-19 is minimal from the surface, it can still protect you from norovirus and other germs. This practice is critical if you are not vaccinated. If you are able, make sure to open those windows to allow for fresh air for ventilation. Stale air is a breeding ground for those tiny viral particles called aerosols that linger in the air and transmit the virus. Make sure to do this when you first arrive and also after housekeeping leaves. We want to think housekeeping is being vigilant about disinfecting everything, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Try Out A New Restaurant
While the experts have stated it is safer now to eat inside, this is not the case for those who are not immunized, so they should still eat outside to be safe. According to the CDC, eating inside is less risky for the vaccinated. But also make sure to check what’s allowed by the local government and the place of business. Every business has a right to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask. They can also ask for a vaccination record or negative covid test document. Companies will typically have signs in their window upon entrance with what their rules are. Think about it as, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” If their practices make you uncomfortable, other restaurants may not have these restrictions, so you may frequent them if you desire. Vacationing should be fun, do what makes you feel safe and comfortable. Just remember to be extra cautious if the Covid rate is high wherever you are. If eating outside even though you are vaccinated feels safer than inside, then please do so.
Be Smart and Stay Safe
As more people are vaccinated, the rate in the US is expected to keep falling, but this is not the case in certain foreign countries. Vaccination rates are low, and new extra-contagious variants are constantly arising. So when you think of activities you usually would do, such as crowded bars, cafes, theme parks, and other indoor activities, it may increase Covid risk. Even US experts say it’s best to avoid indoor places with large crowds whose vaccination status is unknown. Being vaccinated, you are safer, but there is still that slight chance to contract the virus. It’s easy to forget when you are on vacation that there is still a very contagious virus out there, and a lot of us may let our guard down. Especially when you see people without a mask, you assume they are vaccinated, but you also have to consider they may not be. There is no magical force that will protect you just because you are at Disneyland, Las Vegas, or seeing relatives or friends you haven’t seen in ages. It’s important to follow CDC guidance, including washing hands regularly, maintaining a safe distance between yourself and others, avoiding poorly ventilated crowded spaces, and wearing a mask in public settings.
Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler
For many of us, the idea of going on vacation sounds fantastic, especially after the stress of the pandemic year. For most of us, it’s been over a year since we have gone on a trip. So it may take some time to start to feel comfortable going places where other people may not be vaccinated and not wearing a mask. And that is perfectly normal and acceptable to feel that way. But if you are vaccinated, you have that comfort knowing you are more protected against this virus than those that are not. So that alone should help you to relax a little more and enjoy your travels. After staying home for so long, it’s time to take flight and enjoy all this world has to offer again while remaining intelligent and careful. It’s ok to go back to being a globetrotter and enjoy what the world has to offer. “Let the good times roll!”