By Gregory T. Williams, MD
Chief of Infectious Diseases
Reliant Medical Group
With summer well underway, many of us are anxious to get away, relax, and enjoy ourselves. However, many areas of the country are experiencing serious Covid-19 outbreaks, and traveling can increase your chance of getting the virus. There’s no doubt that a “staycation” is the safest way to spend your time off. However, if you do decide to travel it’s important not to let your guard down and take all necessary precautions. Here are some important tips to help you stay safe:
Plan Your Vacation Carefully
Be aware that virtually any kind of travel can increase your risk of getting Covid-19. Crowded planes, trains, buses, transport terminals, and even highway rest stops can all potentially expose you to the virus. So plan to travel by automobile or recreational vehicle if you can. Renting a place that you stay in for an extended period of time is safer than taking a journey to multiple locations. Cooking yourself instead of dining out is also safer since you will be exposed to fewer numbers of people in close quarters.
Bring Everything You Need to Keep Safe
It’s important to have multiple face masks while traveling as well as alcohol-based hand sanitizer and cleaning products. Disinfecting surfaces regularly where you stay will help prevent infection. Wearing a face mask while out in public along with social distancing is also a good idea, whether it is mandatory in your location or not. These CDC guidelines on how to clean and disinfect your home can be helpful while traveling.
Stay Abreast of the News
The Covid-19 pandemic is an evolving situation and state and local guidelines can change rapidly depending on the rate of infection. Be sure to check state and local regulations for your planned destination, along your route, and where you are living now. You should be ready to change your travel plans if any travel restrictions, mandatory quarantines, shelter in place orders, or even border closures are put into place.
Avoid Traveling Internationally
Unfortunately, this is not a good time to take that exotic vacation you’ve been dreaming of. The CDC has recommended that people avoid all nonessential international travel because of Covid-19. Due to the pandemic, many countries have also implemented travel restrictions that prohibit non-citizens from entering. Mandatory quarantines are also in effect in many countries making travel very difficult and unpredictable. It’s best to plan a vacation closer to home this summer to avoid problems.
Make Sure You Are Not Sick
If you or any family members have symptoms that may indicate that you have Covid-19, you should postpone your travel. Symptoms to watch for include: fever, cough, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or new loss of taste or smell. Contact your doctor’s office if you or a family member have any of these symptoms.
Be Careful Visiting or Traveling with Family Members
Travel of any kind means you will be exposed to more people who potentially have the virus that causes Covid-19. So if you have family members who are at higher risk because they are elderly or immunocompromised, you may want to postpone your travel plans until the risk of Covid-19 is lower.
What About Air Travel?
Due to the fact that Covid-19 spreads so easily in tight quarters, air travel is not recommended. The risk is not just in the air, security lines and airport terminals also bring you in close contact with other people as well as frequently touched surfaces. In addition, social distancing is impossible on crowded flights since you have to sit within six feet of others. Although wearing a face mask helps, you are still at a greater risk of exposure. If you do decide to fly, be sure to give your airline your current contact information when booking your ticket so you can be notified if you are exposed to a sick traveler while in flight.
Unfortunately, traveling can be risky in the age of Covid-19. That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to minimize your chance of getting the virus if you do decide to travel. Hopefully, it will be easier to take that vacation of a lifetime next year.
About Gregory T. Williams, MD, Chief of Infectious Disease
Ever since he was a child, Dr. Greg T. Williams knew he wanted to be a doctor. “It was just one of those things, I always knew I wanted to be in medicine. I think it was a combination of enjoying science and wanting to help others that led me to decide to become a doctor,” he explains.
Dr. Williams works in the Division of Infectious Disease at Reliant Medical Group, helping to diagnose and treat a wide range of viral, bacterial,...View profile View posts by this doctor