6 tips for a safe and healthy travel season
Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and that usually means summer travel is just around the corner. This year, as more people steadily become vaccinated, pandemic protocols loosened and cabin fever has worn out its welcome, more than two-thirds of Americans are planning to travel this year.
Even though things aren’t quite back to normal yet, you can still have an enjoyable vacation while being safe. Public health officials recommend taking precautions before you travel since the vaccines are not 100% effective and variants continue to circulate, so now’s the time to plan before that vacation to ensure you and your loved ones stay healthy.
If you’re thinking about taking that long-deserved trip this summer, here are some tips to stay safe while having fun.
Get a vaccine (if you can)
As of this post, roughly 40% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, so our country still has a long way to go before the pandemic is over. The CDC recommends that you delay travel until you are fully vaccinated. If you are unable to get vaccinated and you must travel, the CDC has recommendations for steps you should take to protect yourself and others, like continuing to wear masks, social distance, and getting tested. Depending on your destination, you may be required to have proof of a negative COVID test. If you’re not vaccinated and would like to receive one, visit vaccines.gov to find an appointment near you.
And make sure you can prove it
When it comes to proving your vaccination status, it’s probably best to err on the safe side and have proof with you while you travel. If you’re traveling internationally, some countries may require proof of vaccination or a “vaccine passport,” a digital app that proves your status and could exempt you from lengthy quarantines or testing requirements. New York City already has a vaccine passport that will help businesses keep their customers and staff safe. Likewise, some large venues may also require proof of vaccination. Here’s more about vaccine passport apps from The Points Guy.
In the United States, your proof of vaccination is the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, the paper card you would have received after your shot. Make sure you take a photo of your vaccine card on your phone, but don’t laminate it. Visit the websites of your airline, hotel and other businesses to double-check their requirements for proof of vaccination or negative test results.
Don’t forget your mask
Even if you’re vaccinated, it’s not quite time to retire that mask just yet. Mask-wearing is still required on public transportation, including planes, buses, trains and subways, and many venues, businesses and municipalities may require them. It’s also a thoughtful gesture to those who aren’t able to get vaccinated, and wearing a mask can put others at ease. Just try to ignore the anti-maskers.
Find a mask that you feel comfortable in for extended periods of time, especially if you are flying long distances, and bring multiple masks that work for you.
Keep your hand sanitizer handy
When you’re traveling, you’re also bound to touch a lot of contaminated surfaces, like elevator buttons, pens and handrails, so keep your hand sanitizer close since it may not be available everywhere you go to prevent spreading any virus.
While you’re at it, check out our recent tip on how to disinfect your phone.
Watch out for online travel scams
While you may be primarily concerned about protecting your health this travel season, be sure to protect your wallet and bank account too. According to consumer advocacy organizations, travel scams are on the rise this year as people begin looking to save money.
As you search online for flights and hotels, be wary of rock-bottom prices (those pandemic deals are over). Scammers are out there looking for people who are searching for terms like “best airfare deals” and directing unsuspecting users to fake airline ticketing sites or fraudulent customer service numbers.
The Better Business Bureau suggests avoiding overly broad searches like “great deals on travel” and only book through reputable companies, not shady third-party sites. Don’t click links in your email or pop-ups offering “free” anything, and watch out for telemarketing calls or texts offering deals on travel.
Check out our recent tip on how to protect yourself from online scammers.
Consider a local day trip
Traveling locally may be your best bet if you want to stay safe this travel season. Find a nearby hike with few people, a bike trip with friends, or an outdoor food festival, concert or movie with social distancing. It may not be the big, post-pandemic vacation you’ve been hoping for, but it’s one step closer to normalcy. The upside? You’ll be reducing your carbon footprint this summer, as a short drive or riding public transportation emits far less carbon than that long international flight.