Planning to travel? Do this to be safer.
Fewer Americans will be traveling for the holidays as experts recommend you to avoid in-person gatherings with people you don’t live with.
But if you plan to travel anyway, it will take more planning this time if you want to be safe.
One thing to make sure you do is call ahead and confirm any hotel reservations and check on hours for places you plan to visit, including restaurants.
Much of this holiday’s travel will be road trips, so make sure your car is in good shape and serviced before you head out. With the pandemic and holidays, auto shops may not be open or have limited hours of service.
After your planning is complete, make sure you get your supplies in order to stay safe:
- Plenty of masks
- Hand sanitizer
- Disinfecting wipes
- Disposable gloves
Make sure you have enough snacks and water packed so that you don’t have to make frequent stops for refreshments. This will limit your amount of possible exposure to the virus.
When filling up for gas, pay at the pump with a card, not cash. This eliminates face-to-face interaction and a card can be cleaned off with a disinfectant wipe.
Many restaurants are not open for dine-in service. Make sure you call ahead to find out your options or dine-out by using a drive-thru, delivery, take-out or curbside pick-up. If eating at a restaurant with outdoor seating, opt for those with a pop-up open air tent and ensure guests are still seated with physical distancing in mind. Enclosed 4-wall tents will have less air circulation than open air tents.
“If traveling to see family or friends, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discusses several factors that can contribute to the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 at small in-person gatherings. In combination, the following factors will create various amounts of risk,” said Erin Sinnaeve, a nurse practitioner with Advocate Medical Group in Aurora.
- Community levels of COVID-19: High or increasing levels of COVID-19 cases in the gathering location, as well as in the areas where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. Family and friends should consider the number of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to celebrate when deciding whether to host or attend a gathering. Information on the number of cases in an area can often be found on the local health department website or on CDC’s COVID Data Tracker County View.
- Exposure during travel: Airports, bus stations, train stations, public transport, gas stations and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces.
- Location of the gathering: Indoor gatherings, especially those with poor ventilation (for example, small enclosed spaces with no outside air), pose more risk than outdoor gatherings.
- Duration of the gathering: Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings. Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more greatly increases the risk of becoming sick and requires quarantine.
- Number and crowding of people at the gathering: Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people.
The safest thing to do is to stay home, but if you do decide to travel, testing can help you do so more safely. Getting tested does not eliminate all risk, but it can help make travel safer.
About the Author
Amy Werdin, health enews contributor, is a provider public affairs coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. She has been with the organization for 19 years, starting out in marketing for Advanced Healthcare, then Aurora Health Care and now in her current role. She enjoys reading, movies and watching her two daughters dance and her son swim.