Are you planning to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, here are some COVID-19 travel questions you need to consider before packing your bags.
While international travel may still be months away for most American travelers, many Americans are eyeing to travel within the United States.
When planning your trip, there are several COVID-19 travel questions you should consider. The questions listed below will help you to plan a safe trip that considers the health of you, your fellow travelers, and those you interact with during your travels.
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1. Are COVID-19 outbreaks decreasing or on the rise?
In each of the locations you plan to visit, research whether COVID-19 outbreaks are decreasing or on the rise.
Visiting a location where COVID-19 outbreaks are on the rise will increase the likelihood that you and your travel companions will be exposed to the virus. In addition, officials in those areas may close down restaurants and local attractions to reduce the spread of the virus.
This website shows the trend of COVID-19 outbreaks by state. You can select different states to compare the amount and trend of COVID-19 cases in each of those states. If you’re deciding on what states you’d like to visit, this comparison tool can help inform your decision.
2. How many active COVID-19 cases are there?
Determine how many active COVID-19 cases there are in each of the locations you intend to visit.
Even if COVID-19 outbreaks are decreasing in the areas you plan to visit, it’s still possible that the volume of current cases has maxed out the available medical resources. If something should happens that requires you to seek medication attention, you don’t want it to happen in a place where medical resources are stretched thin.
The CDC maintains a state-by-state COVID-19 tracker that you can use to determine the count of active COVID-19 cases.
3. Are any quarantines required where you’re visiting?
Before you head off to a location, it’s important to know whether there are any quarantine requirements at that location.
If you’re planning on visiting a place for 15 days, and 14 of the days must be spent in quarantine, then that’s not much of a vacation.
4. Are any quarantines required when you return home?
In addition to any quarantine requirements during your trip, you’ll want to consider any quarantine requirements when you return home.
If you take a vacation for 7 days, but then have to quarantine (and take additional vacation time) for 14 days when you come home, was the trip worth it?
Reference Travel+Leisure’s state travel restrictions for information on any quarantine requirements in your home state.
5. Are local attractions fully operating?
Many vacations center around the local attractions you visit while you’re traveling. Amusement parks, museums, historic locations, beaches, and forests all contribute to your vacation experience.
COVID-19 has impacted the operating status of many of these locations. Some locations may be closed entirely. Some may be open, but with limited hours. Other locations may have closed certain portions of the park or attraction.
Check the websites for these attractions before you start your trip. You may reconsider traveling to a particular area if the attraction you wanted to visit isn’t fully operating.
6. Will your trip be ruined if a location suddenly imposes new restrictions?
As the COVID-19 situation improves or worsens in locations, we have seen sudden changes in restrictions.
Beaches, restaurants, and bars that are open one day may suddenly close the next day if COVID-19 cases spike.
Before you leave on your trip, one of the COVID-19 travel questions to consider is whether your vacation will be ruined if location attractions and restaurants are suddenly closed.
I had two friends considering going to Florida recently. The first friend really wanted to experience the beaches. The second friend needed a change in scenery and planned to stay at an Airbnb with a pool. The first friend canceled her trip because the threat of closed beaches would ruin the trip for her. The second friend proceeded with her trip because she was fine staying at the Airbnb with the pool.
If any new, sudden restrictions would ruin your trip, you may want to reconsider your trip plans.
7. Can you reduce your chances of COVID-19 exposure before your trip?
You don’t want to be the one responsible for causing a COVID-19 outbreak on your travels. In addition to the health risk, it places an unnecessary strain on medical resources.
To prevent this from happening, is it possible to reduce your potential exposure to COVID-19 in the days leading up to your trip?
For example, can you limit your interaction with people outside of your group of future travel companions? Can you avoid large gatherings? Can you skip the sit-down restaurants and opt for curbside pickup instead?
I’ve seen some friends opt to do a full 14-day quarantine prior to their trips to help ensure they don’t spread COVID-19.
At a minimum, see if you can limit your exposure to others at the beginning of your trip to decrease the chances of accidentally infecting someone.
8. Will you interact with an at-risk individual during or after your trip?
While our understanding of COVID-19 is still evolving, it seems clear that it disproportionately hurts the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
No matter how cautious you are, interaction with the outside world means that you could be exposed to COVID-19.
The last thing you want is for you to be exposed to COVID-19 and then inadvertently infecting an at-risk individual.
I’ve seen several people impose “self-quarantines” on themselves for 14 days before interacting with at-risk individuals. This may be something you want to consider if you’re going to be interacting with an at-risk individual during or after your trip.
I hope these COVID-19 travel questions help you to plan a safe trip that considers that health of you, your travel companions, and those you interact with on your travels. Have a safe, healthy, and fun trip!