Against the backdrop of a surge of the Covid 19 pandemic, people are planning their year-end holidays. What precautions will make traveling safer? Will your destination regarding the case counts be safer than others? Who will be there and how careful have they been in minimizing the risk? Careful planning is an especially important factor in ensuring that you arrive back home rested and not ill. And perhaps even more critical, should I travel during COVID, even if I technically can?
People are being urged by health and government officials to stay home and avoid nonessential travel. If you must travel, try to keep gatherings small and take the necessary precautions. Wearing a mask, social distancing, and good hand hygiene are all proven precautions. Make sure that you know what the travel restrictions are of your destination.
Plan for an international driver’s license. You will find people providing this service within an hour or two. Your newly acquired license will give you some peace of mind. This is one way of avoiding many people using public transport. Hire a car and be safe. Getting together with people outside of your immediate household and mixing guests from different geographic areas raises your risk of infection.
If you are especially vulnerable to severe Covid 19 illness, stay at home. Your life is more worth than taking a chance. Older persons with chronic underlying illness fall in this category. Their family that is planning on visiting them should really weigh the implications of introducing Covid 19 to them.
Is one destination safer than another?
Areas, where infections remain low, are likely safer regions. However, standard precautions still apply. Ensure that your planned destination is not one of the places where cases have spiked dramatically.
What is the safest way to get to your destination?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend short trips by car with members of your household as the “lowest risk” category, next to staying home. Travelers who are driving have got more control of their interactions with other people than those that are flying or making use of other forms of communal transportation. Make sure to get your international drivers’ license in advance. The license is designed to be simple to use and easy to understand for both English and non-English speakers. There is no written or driving test required.
It is important to familiarize yourself with the traffic regulations and security concerns of each country, as they vary from country to country and state to state.
Remember to minimize contact with other people when you get out of the car. Mask up before getting out of the vehicle.
If you must fly, try avoiding layovers, flying upper-class cabins with more space between passengers, if possible, and considering eye protection. Bring hand sanitizer and use it often and sanitizing wipes for your tray on the airplane. Try to avoid sitting near a bathroom where people tend to congregate during a flight.
Thankfully, air on planes is changed over quite frequently. Air is brought in from outside of the plane and recycled air is passed through HEPA filters.
The proximity of people both in the airport and on the plane, are other risks associated with flying to consider. The risk really comes from the people sitting closest to you within three to four rows. The less crowded a flight is, the safer it will be.
Does testing for Coronavirus provide protection?
Although testing can help catch coronavirus infections before travel, it is not foolproof. You still have to be cautious because the test can be falsely negative or just miss infections you are still incubating. You could certainly also get infected during travel and potentially infect others after that.
According to the CDC’s risk assessment, staying in a rental house or cabin with your immediate household is a lower risk than staying in someone else’s home or hotels. The safety measure of people who have stayed in the homes of friends or relatives after carefully quarantining for a couple of weeks before visiting or receiving guests is a good thing to consider.
If you must travel, plan your travels in a COVID-safe way. Enjoy your holiday.