The Do’s and Don’ts of Vacationing During a Pandemic

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Amelia Valente, Chief Editor

As we are approaching a full year since the COVID-19 pandemic first started in the United States, it is clear that many people are suffering from prolonged periods of stress and anxiety, and widespread emotional exhaustion which mental health experts are now describing as “COVID fatigue”. Under normal circumstances, people may take this time during the winter to go on a much needed vacation or take a relaxing trip somewhere to ease their stress, but sadly because of the pandemic, doing this is extremely unsafe and could jeopardize your health and safety. Being cooped up in your house is tiring, boring, and monotonous, so it is completely understandable why some people want to go on vacation to escape. However, the pandemic is not over yet and this collective fatigue is not an excuse to act carelessly or abandon the responsibility we all have to protect the health and safety of our community. With more and more people taking vacations to escape the cold weather, the question arises: is it safe to vacation during a pandemic? And if you ultimately decide to go on vacation, how can you do it safely?

Widespread travel is one of the many factors that contributes to the emergence of infectious diseases and pandemics. Things like air travel and increased access to public transportation make it easier for people to move from one place to another which in turn makes it easier for infectious diseases to move from place to place. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that spreads easily from person to person through droplets in the air, and when you travel you are more likely to be exposed to more people in densely-populated shared spaces like restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions, and even public restrooms. Being in any shared indoor space with people not from your immediate family automatically increases your chances of being exposed to COVID-19 and becoming infected with the virus. Additionally, if you or a family member gets infected with COVID-19 on vacation and aren’t aware of it, you could come back home and potentially infect your friends, family, and any other members of your community that you regularly come in contact with. The CDC recommends that you should not travel at this time and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 because positive cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are still extremely high across the United States right now. Even during a pandemic in our daily lives we come in contact with many different people in our community like teachers, peers at school, doctors and healthcare workers, and grocery workers. Going on vacation not only poses a direct risk to you and your family, but also a risk to anyone in your community that you regularly engage with.

If you decide you still want to go on vacation despite the risks, here are some tips on how to do it safely and responsibly, keeping the health and safety of yourself and your community in mind. The safest vacation to take right now is one where you can avoid coming into contact with as many people as possible, and one where you can avoid being indoors for a prolonged amount of time. This means that places like beaches, hiking trails, national parks, camping sites, or any big outdoor space where you can adequately social distance is preferable to travel to during this time. Small scale, outdoor vacation options like these decrease your risk of being exposed to COVID-19 while still offering a change of scenery and opportunities for fun. Additionally, the best way to travel during the pandemic is by car because being isolated in your own vehicle eliminates having to spend potentially hours on a train, plane, or bus in close contact with strangers. Public health experts warn to avoid vacations that include traveling from airports, staying in big hotels, or eating out at restaurants as these are shared spaces with a lot of people where COVID-19 can spread easily. Finally, everywhere you go you should continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask, and wash your hands as much as possible to keep yourself safe.

Each of us has a responsibility to protect the health and safety of the people around us and do all that we can to lower the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Everyone is tired of being stuck in their houses with little to do and not being able to see their friends and family, but it is our civic duty and our moral responsibility to care for one another and make responsible decisions that take others’ health and safety into account. Vacations are not essential, and in order for our lives to go back to normal we have to continue to care, continue to make tough decisions, and continue to serve our community rather than ourselves.

Make sure to Check out this link to CDC’s website for more information about travel during the COVID-19 pandemic and what precautions you should take before and after traveling: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html