If there’s one thing that has been made infinitely more difficult during the pandemic — if not altogether impossible — it’s traveling. For all Americans, international travel is nearly out of the question. Mexico is somewhat accessible, but you need to check restrictions; same with Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Outside of that, all domestic travel is still possible via plane, railroad, or car — you’ll just need to check the state laws that you’ll be traveling to.
So let’s break it down.
Before You Travel
Much of this has been meticulously laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but we’d love to speak to some of the points they made.
- Check your states’ travel restrictions before you make your trip.
- Will you need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival?
- What is the infection rate over the last seven days within the state you will be traveling to?
- Will you be traveling with someone who is high-risk for catching Covid-19?
- Bring plenty of hand sanitizer and your own pack of hand soap.
- Wash your hands often, and sanitize as much as possible.
- Bring a mask and wear it any time you’re in public
- Don’t forget to cover both your mouth and your nose for the mask to remain effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Stay at least 6-feet apart from anyone who is not in your party or household
- It may even be beneficial to pack some disposable gloves, just in case
- If you or your travel partner feel sick, stay home!
Domestic Travel by Car
Let’s just get this out of the way: it’s important to note that any travel will increase your risk of catching Covid-19. With that said, traveling by car is the safest way to go.
According to the CDC, “Making stops along the way for gas, food, or bathroom breaks can put you and your traveling companions in close contact with other people and frequently-touched surfaces.”
In any case, here are a few additional tips:
- Try to avoid spending more than 10 minutes in a bathroom
- Bring flushable/disposable wipes to flush the toilet, or flush with your foot; they will also come in handy when filling your tank with gas or stopping in a convenience store
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
- Wear your mask at all times while in public
- Get more airflow into your car — it won’t outright protect you should you get contaminated, but it will keep the airflow circulating and decrease the risk
- Call ahead with your Airbnb or hotel and confirm the cleaning guidelines that they’ll be adhering to.
Travel by Plane
Not all airlines are created equal. By that, we mean the rules that each airline is equipped to follow may be completely different. And all of that is because there is no federal requirement from the government. So before you fly, you’ll need to do your research.
According to the CDC, “Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.”
And even with that in mind, who knows which guidelines your airline of choice is following. (The Points Guy has a great list you can reference.) So, here’s a breakdown.
The following airlines are keeping the middle seat of every flight open so that passengers may maintain distance:
- Southwest (with some stipulations)
And while every airline is requiring that all passengers and staff wear masks, not all airlines have masks available should you forget yours. Here are the ones that will have them available for you:
What’s the most surprising is that not all airlines are cleaning before every flight. Here are all the airlines that are doing their due diligence:
Additionally, many airlines are self-implementing guidelines on passenger loads in order to maintain an effective social distance while aboard the flight.
Travel by Train or Bus
Public transportation is always a risky situation. With a bus or train, people aren’t usually as locked in as they would be with a plane. Additionally, many buses and trains will have air circulating from the outside or even keep windows open to lower the risk of transmission.
According to the CDC, “Traveling on buses and trains for any length of time can involve sitting or standing within 6 feet of others, which may increase your risk of getting COVID-19. If you choose to travel by bus or train, learn what you can do to protect yourself on public transportation.”
So, you won’t need to be as prepared as you would if you were taking a flight, but you will still want to be well-researched in a few areas:
- What cleaning guidelines will your bus or train be implementing?
- What are the cases like for the state you will be traveling to?
- What are the state restrictions for the state you’ll be traveling to?
- Will your train or bus have a mask mandate in place?
- Will your train or bus have spare masks just in case?
- What is the capacity policy of your bus or train?
At the end of the day, stay informed, keep researching, and know before you go. You’ll need to pack a little more than you’re used to, like a face mask, but you’ll be safer for doing so.