What you need to know before taking a domestic vacation during the epidemic

2020 has been a long year. You may be dying to get out and about, but everything is still closed to stop the spread of coronavirus. Surely a short trip couldn't hurt, right? Experts tell Bustle it's not that fast. Vacationing domestically during the pandemic is high-risk, and there are many different factors you need to evaluate before you think about loading up your car or getting on a plane.

As of late November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that people postpone travel and stay home, especially during the holidays, as cases continued to rise across the United States. They specifically recommend staying home if you or someone you live with is at high risk for COVID-19; if your hometown or destination has a high number of cases; and if hospitals in either location are overwhelmed with cases ;or if you have had any close contact with anyone outside your bubble in the past 14 days. They also advise against taking buses, trains or planes to anywhere where social distancing is difficult and say you should not travel with anyone outside your bubble. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, are experiencing symptoms, or have been diagnosed yourself, you should absolutely not travel.

But there are some situations where you absolutely cannot postpone your trip, and doctors have advice on how to deal with such tricky situations.

What is the safest way to travel during the epidemic?

"It's best to avoid travel if possible, or stick to short car trips," John A. Sellick DO, MD, professor in the Department of Medicine at the University at Buffalo's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, tells Bustle. "Private cars may be safer, but you have to be careful about rest stops, hotel overnights, etc. "You don't know the hygiene standards at general interstate gas stations, so it's best to avoid them if you can. That means staying within an easy drive of your home, and ideally traveling alone or with a pod so you're not exposed to other people's germs in the car. Amyna Husain DO, assistant professor of pediatric emergency medicine at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, said if possible, you should eat in your car instead of stopping at a sidewalk cafe and bring disinfectant wipes to wipe down any common areas .

Buses, trains and planes shouldn't be your first choice for a holiday right now. “Public transportation raises the issue of crowding in small spaces,” Dr. Sellick said. Air filtration on planes may be improving, but that's not a major risk, he said. “I’m more concerned that the person sitting next to me might be infected and spread the virus.”

Emergency physician Dr. Larry Burchett tells Bustle that if you can't travel by car, flying may be a better option purely for time reasons. "It takes a lot longer to take a bus across the country for a few days than it does to fly," he said. However, he recommended that anyone traveling with others in public should upgrade to a more protective mask, such as an N95, if possible. Infectious disease expert Dr. Ravina Kullar recommends wearing both a mask and a face covering. At airports and terminals, maintain social distance and always wear a mask, even if others around you may have removed their masks, Dr. Hussain said.

What coronavirus precautions should you take if you travel?

If you absolutely cannot postpone travel, Dr. Sellick recommends making sure the airline is implementing social distancing measures and operating at 50-60% capacity, wearing a mask and goggles if possible, and using hand sanitizer liberally. Wipe all surrounding areas with antiseptic wipes and keep hands away from your face.

"If you're traveling by air, please keep your distance from TSA agents and other travelers as you go through security," Dr. Amy Khan, executive medical director of health insurance at Regence Blue Shield, tells Bustle. "During the ID check, remove and replace your face covering." Ear loops. Then, sanitize your ID and carry-on bag and wash your hands as soon as possible. No matter how you choose to travel, bring your own food, water and hand sanitizer. Please don’t offer airline sandwiches or roadside snacks.

Try to get tested for coronavirus immediately before leaving to make sure you are not carrying the disease. If you have been in contact with other travelers during your journey, whether you are on a bus, plane or train, you may need to self-isolate and/or get tested on arrival as you may have contracted the virus en route. If you are traveling in your own car and have no contact with other people on the road, post-event testing is less necessary. But after the Thanksgiving holiday, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told Americans to assume they are infected if they travel or attend large gatherings, CBS News reported. Get tested as soon as possible.

Where can you travel during the epidemic?

"Before you decide to travel to another state, check local guidelines," Dr. Seema Sarin, an internist at healthcare provider EHE Health, tells Bustle. "Some state and local governments may require people who have recently traveled to stay home for 14 days." If that's the case, she says, you need to follow the guidelines, which means staying indoors and not interacting with anyone, even Delivery driver and your postman. Dr. Salling says you should only leave for medical care or essential items that cannot be delivered.

If possible, avoid traveling to areas with high numbers of cases. If your city or county is experiencing a surge, it's best to stay put to avoid potentially spreading it.

What if you want to travel with another pod?

It is not a good idea to go on vacation with others outside of your quarantine area unless everyone has been tested and/or quarantined for 14 days prior to arrival. Even so, you need to be alert to who might be affected if you are exposed to the virus. "It is important to assess your own vulnerability to this new disease and the possibility of bringing coronavirus home to your loved ones," Dr. Khan told Bustel. Just because people on Instagram are renting with a group of friends doesn't mean it's safe to do so.

Dr. Sarin says if you're not feeling well or you've been around someone who has had COVID-19 in the past 14 days, you shouldn't travel at all. If any friends or family members who were due to come develop any symptoms, they should stay home. Next summer, when the curve of new cases is expected to flatten, might be a better time to take that long-awaited vacation.


Dr. Larry Burchett, MD

Dr. Amina Hussain Do

Dr. Amy Khan, MD

Dr. Raveena Kule, MD

Dr. Seema Sarin, MD

Dr. John Selick, MD