Maintaining holiday traditions during a pandemic can be tricky. With social distancing mandates and travel restrictions, attempting to visit your family can come with several challenges. Fortunately, there are many reliable ways to limit the health risks for you and your family. Here are three tips to stay safe while traveling for the holidays.
1. Check Travel Restrictions
With the rise and fall of coronavirus cases, it’s hard to keep up with the revolving door of state-sanctioned policies. While some local governments are imposing statewide stay-at-home orders, others are implementing regulations that vary by county. However, despite the diversity of policies, intrastate travel restrictions have become increasingly common. Before heading out-of-state for Thanksgiving or Christmas, check your destination’s public health website for the most recent updates. If the state you are traveling to requires a self-quarantine period, plan to arrive two weeks before the day of your family gathering.
2. Drive, If You Can
When considering travel during a pandemic, the mode of transportation matters. Although airfare is cheaper than usual and buses and trains are up and running again, relying on public transportation increases your chances of contracting COVID-19. Therefore, if you must travel, it’s safest to drive yourself. To be as cautious as possible, follow these hygiene guidelines:
- Bring hand sanitizer, masks, disinfectants, gloves, and sustenance
- Map out your route before getting on the road
- Be vigilant at gas stations and rest stops by minding social distancing and sanitation guidelines
- Order your food to-go and eat outside, stop at drive-thru restaurants, or utilize curbside pick-up
- If you have to make an overnight stop, choose your hotel or AirBnB carefully to ensure that your accommodations have been thoroughly sanitized
3. Quarantine, If Need Be
Air travel brings you into contact with people from all walks of life. From security lines and terminal waits, to plane seating and baggage claims, it’s hard to escape close company. Unfortunately, during a pandemic, that’s a health concern. If road tripping is out of the question and you must travel by air, it’s helpful to quarantine before visiting your family (especially if they are elderly or immunocompromised). According to researchers, most infected people show symptoms 5-12 days after their initial exposure to the virus, even though they can be contagious by day 2. While monitoring yourself for symptoms, stay away from others, wear a mask, and follow strict social distancing rules. The CDC recommends that travelers self-quarantine for 14 days to ensure that the threat of illness is no longer present.
4. Consider Visiting Virtually
As much as we all miss our loved ones and look forward to reconnecting in-person, it’s important to understand that during this health crisis, there is an inherent risk associated with travel. Each run-in with people outside of your home creates an opportunity for virus exposure and subsequent infection. If you can’t make your vacation a road trip, are unable to impose a 14-day quarantine, or are visiting elderly family members, take time to consider how imperative your trip really is. Many cautious states have adopted the “safer-at-home” slogan in efforts to slow the spread of new coronavirus cases. So if you can skip holiday travel this time around, it may be best to do so. But just because you and your family are miles apart doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Try staying in touch with these connectivity apps:
Family time is vital, especially around the holidays. However, in times such as these, we must adjust. When possible, stay home and rely on technology to bring you closer together. If you do decide to fly or take a road trip across state lines, use the safety tips above to ensure that everyone stays healthy. Host your family gatherings outside, wash your hands often, and avoid sharing personal items. The sooner we beat coronavirus, the sooner we can return to the holiday norms that we all love. So use these three tips and do your part to slow the spread.