With COVID-19 continuing and countries and U.S. states reopening to incoming travelers, many are wondering if certain destinations are safe to visit for recreation or medical treatment. If you’re considering traveling for inpatient drug rehabilitation, you don’t want to endanger your health or the health of those you love back at home.
Where to visit is an important question, but there are also other questions that you need to ask, no matter which destination you choose.
According to Cedars Sinai, there are four important questions to ask and answer before you travel:
What Modes of Transportation Are You Using?
One of the safest ways to travel in the United States is in a recreational vehicle (RV). If you don’t have access to a reliable travel vehicle, you may want to consider renting one. While RVs use considerable amounts of gasoline, you won’t need to worry about lodging since they transport you and give you somewhere to stay at the same time.
A quick Google Search reveals that the average class C motorhome, which provides plenty of room for four people, can cost between 150 and 250 dollars per day. Depending on where you live, class C RVs might or might not require special licenses to operate, but they’re easier to drive and handle than larger travel vehicles.
If you need to or prefer to travel by air, flying may or may not be risky, depending on a number of factors. For one, airports are places that attract people from all over the world. These people interact and spend time indoors with each other at a central location.
Because airports can be hot zones, you need to be aware if airports in your departure, layover, transfer, and arrival cities have experienced outbreaks or are located in areas with several COVID-19 cases.
Despite the concerns some may have about air travel during the pandemic, flying itself may not be as risky as people may imagine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that many viruses may not propagate easily on flights because of the way air is filtered and circulates on airplanes.
What Will You Be Straying?
If your travel companions are virus-free, you’re less likely to be exposed to COVID-19 while staying in an RV or while camping outdoors. But other forms of lodging may be relatively safe as well.
Some motels and hotels may be safer than your own home. Many have risk-reduction protocols, such as closing common areas, requiring staff and guests to wear masks in public areas, and cleaning rooms only between guests.
What Will You Be Doing?
Doing almost anything during the COVID-19 pandemic has required creativity. With the 6-foot social distancing rule in mind, there are plenty of things to do while traveling to maintain a safe distance from other travelers.
Camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities are all good options. Depending on the number of cases at your destination and your comfort level about being indoors with strangers, you also might also consider going to a restaurant.
Should you? Well, when dining anywhere, check beforehand to find out if appropriate safety protocols are enforced at the place you plan to eat.
Also, you might also want to consider the words of infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Ben-Aderet. He notes that spending time in enclosed or crowded spaces increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission and urges people in these areas to wear masks.
Where Will You Travel?
So, where is it safe to travel? If you live in a part of the world that has seen little impact from the virus, you’ll want to avoid going anywhere that has been declared a hot zone. The CDC offers a wealth of information about where and where not to travel both in the United States and internationally.
If you’re a U.S. resident and plan to travel to another U.S. state, consider checking out the CDC web page that lists every state’s public health website. Since things are changing from day to day, it’s important to have the latest information about where you plan to visit.
A great place to find the latest on international travel is Travel.State.Gov. The site includes the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisories, which can serve as first steps toward making an informed travel decision about your intended destination.
The U.S. Department of State has established four levels of advisories that are posted at Travel.State.Gov:
Level 1 – Exercise normal precautions (safe to travel)
Level 2 – Exercise increased caution
Level 3 – Reconsider travel
Level 4 – Do not travel
If you want to travel to Brazil, for example, you might be waiting for a long time. In 2020, the U.S. government issued a level 4 warning, telling U.S. citizens not to enter Brazil because of COVID-19. If people do go there, the government warns U.S. citizens to take increased precautions because of crime in the country.
For the sake of comparison, in 2020, Japan was a level 3 country, according to the Department of State. That means that the agency urges U.S. residents to reconsider traveling to the country.
If you still want to travel to destinations that have been designated level 2 through 4, it’s important to study travel advisories and other important information about the place first.
There may also be stipulations on your return home. U.S. citizens returning from some countries can only re-enter the country at certain airports approved by the federal government. Some U.S. states require their residents to quarantine themselves if they’ve traveled to countries or states with high numbers of coronavirus cases.
Whatever your destination, be smart and be safe.
www.cedars-sinai.org – Is It Safe to Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
cdc.gov – Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic
cdc.gov – State & Territorial Health Department Websites
travel.state.gov – COVID-19 Traveler Information