A spurt of warm weather, an epidemic of cabin fever and the calendar itself have all conspired to put many in mind of taking a spring break these days. While we wish it was possible, however, it’s too early to think in terms of getting a break from the pandemic with all of its precautions, warnings and restraints. Still, many are going to hit the road in some fashion, even if it’s a limited one. Here is the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) advice for “spring breaking” without breaking the pandemic’s safety restrictions.
There are risks involved in travel during the pandemic – not just to you but to everyone else you may come into contact with, especially after the trip. The current trend downwards (in cases and hospitalizations) can give a false sense of safety. Because travel increases your risk of infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends delaying unnecessary travel. For those who do have travel plans:
• Do some research. Travel restrictions vary by state and country and sometimes change quickly. Two online sites you should check out: “Know Before You Go” is the U.S. State Department’s latest information on COVID-19 travel restrictions. The “CDC Travel Planner” is another must-see site for their latest travel advice.
• Take a road trip instead of flying if possible. It’s still risky but less so without airport security lines, crowded flights and other gathering situations.
• If eligible, get your vaccine before the trip and wait 2 weeks.
• Be smart about your activities before your travel. CDC recommends for two weeks before your trip, avoid large group events and public transportation. Those increase your risk of infection. Get a COVID test 1-3 days before travel and keep a copy of your negative test with you.
• After the trip, CDC suggests getting another test within 3-5 days. Quarantine for 7 days no matter how your test comes out.
• Minimize stops in public places on the road by bringing snacks and drinks.
• Expect unexpected changes in things like flights, car rentals and accommodations. Unanticipated lockdowns or infections can happen.
• Get trip details in writing. Before making final payment, get all the details of the trip in writing. This should include the total cost, restrictions, cancellation penalties, and names of the airlines and hotels. Also, review and keep a copy of the airline’s and hotel’s cancellation and refund policies, as well as the cancellation policies of the travel agency or booking site you are using.
• Educate yourself about travel insurance issues. It’s wise to have but may not cover every situation. Read the fine print carefully, especially regarding unexpected lockdowns. Search online for BBB’s article: “Is Travel Insurance Right for You.”
• Talk with your hotel or accommodation host specifically about their sanitary measures. Some of their facilities may be temporarily shut down.
• Stick to the tried-and-true pandemic practices of wearing masks and staying six feet away from others.
• Outdoors is safer. Utilize parks and trails where the weather permits but be aware that advance reservations may be necessary. The pandemic has increased their popularity.
Cabin fever may make a spring or summer trip irresistible for you. Stay as safe as possible by following the above guidelines. If you have questions or other concerns regarding pandemic travel issues, contact your BBB at 800-856-2417 or atbbb.org.