By: Jordan Taylor

As we turn the corner to nearly a year of the covid-19 global pandemic, many of us are looking for ways to stretch our legs and finally explore outside our homes. This has a lot of us asking, “is it safe to travel?”

It would be great if this answer were as simple as yes or no, but things are still a little more complicated, even as we put 2020 behind us and move into 2021. If this past year and experiencing a global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our actions have consequences, whether they be big or small, good or bad; they influence the people we live with and sometimes they can affect the entire world.

As we start to branch out and step out of our homes, as government regulations open borders and Covid numbers begin to go down, it’s important to remember that the decision to travel is not a decision that will only affect you. Part of what makes traveling so worthwhile is exploring new destinations, seeing new landscapes or architecture, and creating new relationships connecting with people with different backgrounds, histories, and cultures. Whenever and wherever we travel, we become a part of that community however brief or long our stay. Taking care of that community while exploring all it has to offer should become one of our top priorities.

I wish we could say that yes, traveling during this pandemic is 100% safe. The truth is, “Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Anyone can get very ill from the virus that causes COVID-19, but older adults and people with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. If you get infected while traveling, you can spread the virus to loved ones when you return, even if you don’t have symptoms”. CDC, Dec 3, 2020

We must consider more than just our own safety when we decide to travel.  It is a question of ethics and responsibility for those we interact with locally and internationally.  Many of us may not fit the high-risk category, and we may have easy access to healthcare for treatment or the ability to take time off from work to recover. However, that is not necessarily the case for everyone one interacts with when traveling. It is important to remember and consider the safety of others. You never know how the virus will affect each individual, or if missing a few days of work will mean the difference in providing food for their family that week.

If you must travel, make sure you do your part to keep yourself and those around you as safe as possible. You must be an informed traveler.  Every city, state, country, airline, transportation system, and hotel will have its restrictions and guidelines for handling Covid. We are all doing our best to follow guidelines to keep each other safe while remaining open for business.  Each company is doing its best to stay open and provide you with a service. With a little research, you can find the specific requirements for each.  Knowing what is required before you leave your home is the number one step in avoiding any hiccups. It’s most likely going to be inconvenient, but as the world faces a global pandemic, convenience is not going to be the number one priority.

If you are going to travel, be prepared to follow ALL guidelines. The employees and staff who will assist you along the way but not at the expense of their own health and safety. They are doing the best they can while working in an industry that is suffering.  Be kind and help them do their job by knowing restrictions and following them graciously.

Before you consider traveling, these are just a few questions you will want to answer:
  • Are you at increased risk for severe illness?
    • Anyone can get COVID-19, but older adults and people of any age with certain medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Do you live with someone who’s at increased risk for severe illness?
  • Will you be visiting or working with someone who’s at increased risk for severe illness?
  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you live or at your destination?
    • The more cases in your own community or at your destination, the more likely you will get and spread COVID-19 during travel.
  • Are you able to postpone your travel?
  • Is your destination open for visitors, especially when traveling internationally?
    • Are U.S citizens permitted to enter?
  • What are the requirements for entry or exit?
    • Many countries may have additional testing, quarantine, or even additional financial requirements to enter.
  • Are you required to provide a negative Covid test in order to enter your final destination?
    • Do you have access to getting tested?
    • What is the timeline for your requirements: 24 hours, 72 hours?
  • Are you required to provide a negative Covid test in order to return home?
    • Will you have access to getting tested?
  • Will you be required to quarantine once you arrive?
    • How long is the required quarantine?
    • Where will you need to quarantine?
  • What are the local regulations or restrictions regarding Covid?
    • Are face masks and social distancing required?
  • Are there any movement restrictions in place at your destination?
    • Is public transportation running?
  • What are the fines or consequences for non-compliance?
  • If you are traveling by plane, what are the restrictions for your specific airline or any connecting airlines?
    • Is a negative Covid test required?
    • Do you have to wear a face mask?
    • Do you have to social distance?
    • What are you allowed to bring on the aircraft?
    • Are you allowed to eat or drink while on the aircraft?
  • Last but not least, if you are traveling with children, what are the requirements for their age group?
    • Are there any changes based on their age?
As you continue to do research and decide if travel is the best option for you, here are some additional resources you can refer to: The open road or frequent flyer miles are calling all of our names! We see changes with the management of Covid and the accessibility to vaccines weekly. If we can remain patient for a little longer then before we know it we can return to exploring the world and taking on new adventures. For now, during the height of pandemic, there is nothing wrong with staying close to home. You may even find and fall in love with some local gems or your new favorite staycation tradition.
Is it safe to travel?
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