Travel, whether domestic or international, is now much easier and more accessible for COVID-19 vaccinated individuals. Many of us are eager to plan vacations this summer, especially after a year of being cooped up at home. But traveling looks a little different now, and with various destinations having their own restrictions and mask mandates, it can be hard to know how to prepare.
For other fully vaccinated people who have the travel bug, here’s a pre-travel checklist for stress-free vacations.
1. Research your destination’s policies.
Check your locale for any requirements for fully vaccinated travelers. Although it is no longer necessary domestically, some international locations require a negative coronavirus test or a period of quarantine. Visit the State Department website to understand these requirements and be aware of your destination’s COVID-19 infection rate.
2. Pack your vaccine card with your passport.
Alongside your driver’s license, passport, flight plans and accommodation information, make sure your vaccination card is part of your travel documents. It’s also a good idea to snap a picture of your card to keep on your phone while traveling.
3. Be prepared to follow masking guidelines.
The CDC’s most recent guidelines lift recommendations to wear masks and stay socially distant for vaccinated people, but these do not apply in certain situations like inside healthcare facilities or during transit. Individual businesses may also have their own policies on masking and distancing. Always have a mask on-hand, just in case!
4. Opt for carry-on luggage.
Be prepared for busy airports and full flights. Consider a carry-on to reduce your chances of being in contact with others while waiting around a crowded luggage carousel. Having your bag with you minimizes the amount of time you spend waiting at baggage claim and gives you a better sense of where it’s been and who has touched it.
5. Pack PPE and refreshments.
Remember to travel with face masks, disinfectant wipes and sanitizer. If you’re flying, consider a quick wipe down of your airplane seat, headrest, tray table and armrests. You should also pack your own healthy snacks in case they aren’t available onboard (plus, flight delays are more common than ever these days). Airlines have been changing their food and drink policies throughout the pandemic so it’s best to plan ahead.
6. Consider your accommodations.
Hotels and motels are common travel accommodations but, by design, you’re in close proximity to others. Consider a rental property with a private entrance. You can even choose accommodations that allow self-check-in, completely bypassing the need to be in close quarters with people outside your family.
7. Prepare for COVID-19 testing before, and potentially after, travel.
Depending on your destination, you may need to show proof of a negative coronavirus test even when vaccinated. For domestic travel within the U.S., fully vaccinated travelers do not need a coronavirus test before or after trips. When returning to the U.S. all passengers two years of age or older must test negative for COVID-19. When traveling, the process of getting a rapid antigen or PCR coronavirus test will vary widely, whether you are finding one in the United States or scheduling one abroad.
8. Unvaccinated kids? Take a road trip.
Recently, COVID-19 vaccines were approved for children as young as 12. Unvaccinated children are still at risk for catching the virus during travel and household transmission is known to occur even in people who have been fully vaccinated. If you have children that have yet to be vaccinated, opt for a vacation closer to home. It can be less stressful to hit the beach, go camping, or visit a state park.
After months of plans being put on hold, the opportunity to travel again is exciting, but it’s important to remain aware and informed. Follow this pre-travel checklist to plan a smooth and enjoyable trip, but never hesitate to reach out to your trusted primary care physician or TargetCare provider with any concerns. Scheduling your annual wellness check before travel is a great way to get all your questions answered and feel confident and prepared for your trip.