Four Key Pieces Of Holiday Travel Advice From Health Experts

by Holly Garcia
Originally Published: 

There is something about early fall that whisks us through back to school, past Halloween, and onto the holiday season. It’s been a long last year and a half, especially for those of us who have masked, socially distanced, and gotten our vaccines. We have been waiting for the green light to see if holiday travel this year was even going to be a thing. We’ve kept our fingers crossed that we would get to see our friends and family again IRL and not through a Zoom call. (Seriously, those are getting hella old at this point.)

But just because we’ve been in this for a year and a half doesn’t mean it’s the time to let our guard down. The pandemic is still raging, and some yahoos still refuse to get vaxxed or take preventative measures. In fact, as of this moment, the CDC is reporting a 73,079 seven-day average of new Covid cases in the U.S. I don’t know about you, but when we’re still averaging over 10,000 cases per day, it is safe to say we aren’t out of the woods just yet.

But if you’re being safe and careful and really really have your heart set on jumping in a plane, train, or automobile for holiday travel this year, make sure you cover a few bases first. This isn’t an all-encompassing list, but these are considerations health experts want you to think about before you decide to travel this year.

No Holiday Travel for the Unvaxxed

Most people will skip right past this and say, well, duh. Unfortunately, this needs to be said because there are an equal amount of people who will be up in arms and think this is ridiculous guidance. Health experts advise unvaxxed people don’t travel for two reasons.

First, if you aren’t vaccinated, you are less protected than those who are. Just take a look at the numbers. According to the CDC, vaccinated people are 10 times less likely to get sick enough that they need to be hospitalized. But if that doesn’t bother you, and you aren’t worried about getting sick, consider other travelers. When you participate in holiday travel and aren’t vaccinated, you put other people at risk. There is a reason why, before the Covid vaccine was widely available, everyone was told to stay home to stop the spread.

Will You Be in Vaxxed Company?

Yeah, it might be a sticky conversation to have. But isn’t that the beauty in holiday gatherings? Uncle Frank spouting off about QAnon and Auntie Jayne asking when you’re going to “settle down and find a nice boy?” Checking in on whether or not you’ll be in vaccinated company before you decide to travel for the holiday might just be saving you from more than one disaster.

And for those who have littles who aren’t eligible to be vaccinated yet, I mean, need we say more? As mentioned before, when people aren’t vaccinated, they’re more likely to end up in the hospital. No one wants to risk that happening during the most wonderful time of the year. So if Sally and Paul won’t answer the question of whether or not they’re vaxxed, they probably aren’t.

Pack Rapid Tests Just In Case

If your holiday travel plans include staying with family and friends for a week or two, there is no such thing as being too prepared. Because in this day and age, it might be the sniffles, or it might be Covid-19.

If you’re out of town and unable to see your regular provider, pack a few Covid rapid tests just in case. At best, it will give you peace of mind that you do indeed have “just a cold.” On the other hand, it might also help you protect others nearby if you test positive. Keep an eye on the CDC’s guidelines for what to do if you test positive for Covid.

Have A Holiday Backup Plan

If you find yourself, your family or the people you were planning on visiting during your holiday travels unwell at the last moment, stay home. I know it sucks, and I know the kids really wanted to see Gigi for the first time in a million years but, we also don’t want to get Gigi sick.

Have a backup plan for yourself and let the kiddos in on it, just in case it comes to that. Human connection is so important, regardless of how it is done. So make sure you have something to fall back on just in case. Maybe mail gifts on over ahead of time. It’s a win-win-win. One less thing to forget, one less thing to pack, and everyone gets their goods regardless of how you connect.

It feels like we’ve been at this for a billion years (like how I keep increasing it?) But it’s true. We’ve been battling Covid and the pandemic fatigue that comes with it for a long time. We’ve made it this far, and someday this will all be a bad dream (more like a really freaking awful nightmare). With enough science and reason, Covid will become more like the seasonal flu and less like a pandemic that’s changed everything we thought we knew. But until we get there, have happy, safe holidays and travel with care.

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