As we approach the second holiday season amidst a global pandemic, I think many of us can agree holiday travels are back on most of our agendas.
Nearly 70% of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated according to the CDC (1), and many even boosted against COVID-19; many are dusting off their passports and getting ready to travel during the holidays.
While there is a decline in new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, COVID is still present this holiday season. Not to mention we are in the middle of flu season, and the winter months tend to come with a wave of respiratory viruses so, we aren’t exactly in the clear yet.
That’s why we are putting together a quick checklist of things to be mindful of while traveling during the holiday season to keep you healthy all season long.
Consider Getting Vaccinated.
The COVID-19 and flu vaccines are effective in reducing the risk of severe infection and hospitalization. All adults are eligible to receive the COVID vaccines, and even children five years of age or older are now eligible. Flu vaccines are widely available and safe for all to take. If you plan to travel a lot during the holiday season, we strongly recommend receiving the booster vaccine for added protection and peace of mind.
Test For COVID Before Gatherings and Traveling.
Regardless of vaccination status, we highly recommend everyone to test one to three days before traveling or gathering with loved ones. Testing before travel and events reduces the odds of unknowingly bringing the virus to your destination or gathering. If you are traveling with elderly or immune-compromised individuals, you might choose to test more frequently, especially if someone in the group begins to feel symptoms.
Testing before and after international trips is a must. Some international destinations require testing before you can visit, even if you’ve been vaccinated to enter the country. On your way back to the US, everyone over age 2 needs to show proof of a negative test when returning home. Vaccinated individuals can get tested up to three days before departure, while unvaccinated individuals must get tested no more than one day before departure.
Travel With All The Necessities To Keep You Healthy.
By now, most of us travel with some standard health and cleaning supplies on deck to keep us healthy from all viruses, germs, and bacteria. Here’s a quick list of things we recommend everyone keep with them while traveling this holiday season.
- Extra face masks or coverings
- Hand sanitizer
- Travel disinfecting wipes
- A couple of packs of vitamin drink mix like Emergen-C
- Travel pack of tissues
Continue To Follow Health Protocols.
Regardless of vaccination status, it’s best to keep up with the following health protocols to keep you and all those you are traveling with safe.
- Wear a mask when appropriate. Regardless of vaccination status, you should still wear a face-covering in high-traffic areas like the airport and during travel. When wearing a mask, be sure to wear a well-fitting mask over your nose and mouth.
- Keep your hands clean. To keep germs, bacteria, and viruses away, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, be sure to choose a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to disinfect your hands properly.
- Stay home if you are sick. This golden rule has been around before the days of COVID. If you are not feeling well, stay home and rest until you feel better. No matter your illness, it’s best not to spread it around, so postponing travel and events is highly recommended until you are well.
- Avoid touching your eyes and face. Most viruses and germs enter our bodies through our eyes, nose, and mouth. For this reason, it’s best to avoid touching your face. If you must touch your face, be sure to use hand sanitizer or wash your hands thoroughly.
Enjoy Your Time.
For all of us, we have been under stress due to the pandemic for two years now. Many chose not to travel last year, so this is the first time many have taken a winter vacation or spent holidays with extended family in two years. While you’re away, it may take a while to relax fully, and that’s okay. Travel might still be stressful with the flu, COVID, and many winter viruses around, but you should feel safer to embark on your travels and gather with family this holiday season by keeping the above in mind.