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We’re more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and just about everyone is desperate to take a vacation.
As states begin lifting restrictions and more people become vaccinated, many of us are making travel plans. According to a recent survey conducted by Healthline and our sister site, The Points Guy, 50 percent of U.S. adults are likely to take at least one vacation this summer.
But traveling during a pandemic is a little different than typical summer travel. People need to be creative and flexible in their planning. For many of us, this means playing it safe with trips to beaches and parks.
“Many travelers are likely to dip their toes back into travel cautiously and stick with the outdoor-focused trips that became especially popular during the pandemic,” says Melanie Lieberman, the senior travel editor at The Points Guy.
However, she says they’re also seeing people book bigger, longer trips and upgrade to more luxurious (and more private) experiences.
“Many travelers not only want to make up for lost time, so to speak, with an unforgettable trip, [but they also want to] secure more space and privacy for a safer trip and, above all else, more peace of mind.”
Wherever you’re going, and however you’re getting there, we’ve researched everything you’ll need to feel safe and comfortable on your trip.
To create this list, here’s what we considered:
- guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- advice from medical and travel experts
- suggestions from people who already braved pandemic travel
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$20
- $$$ = over $20
- Price: $$
Enro’s lightweight masks come in multiple colors and patterns, with six sizes ranging from youth to adult.
But more importantly, each Enro mask is made with three protective layers and an integrated PM0.1 filter, which is designed to filter out particles as small as 0.1 microns in diameter.
They also include clever features, like adjustable ear loops and a flexible nose bridge for a perfect fit that stays put on road trips or plane rides. They also wash well in a hotel sink.
Reviewers rave about the comfort, fit, breathability, and great price.
- Price: $
Plus, they’re scented with organic essential oils. Reviewers love the sweet fragrances and smooth, non-sticky consistency of OH.SO’s hand sanitizers.
The formulation also includes colloidal silver, which some people claim has antimicrobial effects.
- Price: $$
High-touch surfaces, like drinking fountains, armrests, and tray tables, can be cleaned with a disinfectant approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be effective against SARS-CoV-2.
Clorox makes this easy with handy to-go packs for disinfecting and deodorizing. These bleach-free wipes are EPA registered.
The wipes are thick and stay wet, thanks to the moisture-seal lid, which also dispenses wipes one at a time. The space-efficient pouch is made with 70 percent less plastic than the Clorox canister packaging and fits well in smaller spaces, like a purse or backpack.
- Price: $
While sanitizer works in a pinch, sudsing up is the best way to clean your hands.
With Soapy Mate, you can wash your hands almost anywhere. Just add water to these individual soap sheets to create a sudsy lather that rinses clean, leaving your hands soft.
Reviewers love the light fragrance, ease of use, and overall convenience of these soap sheets.
Just make sure to place a soap sheet in your hand before you get them wet to avoid dealing with a soapy mess in the packet.
- Price: $$
While it’s true that airports have spots for charging devices, they tend to get crowded. A portable charger means you can avoid crowds without having to worry about a dead phone.
INIU’s charger is an ultra-slim, high-speed option that’s airline approved as a carry-on item and features an integrated flashlight.
It’s compatible with both Apple and Android devices, and you can charge three devices at once.
Just make sure the charger is fully charged before your trip, and you’ll be able to power your devices for about a week.
Reviewers say the INIU charger is sturdy, easy to use, and effective.
- Price: $$$
Staying hydrated is essential for your overall health, including a strong immune system.
Toting along your water bottle while traveling may just help you make sure you drink enough water each day.
Healthy Human is a BPA-free, stainless steel, insulated bottle that comes in a rainbow of colors and four sizes. Pairing it with a top that features an integrated straw means you can sip without even removing your mask all the way.
More than 4,600 Amazon reviewers give the Healthy Human water bottle a 4.5-star average rating.
- Price: $
In addition to cleaning runny noses and catching sneezes, tissues are handy as a barrier for things like doorknobs.
These on-the-go tissues are conveniently packaged in travel packs, and they’re small enough to fit in a pocket.
Plus, the tissues themselves are durable, thick, soft, and absorbent.
- Price: $$$
Phones are a veritable petri dish for bacteria and viruses, especially when traveling.
Sanitize yours quickly and effectively with the PhoneSoap Go, a rechargeable sanitizer that fits all phones and case sizes. It uses ultraviolet (UV) light to kill SARS-CoV-2, a method that’s supported by research.
The sanitizer doubles as a power bank, so you can charge your phone while it’s being sanitized.
Just 10 minutes in the PhoneSoap Go kills germs, whether you’re in the car, on the plane, or settling into your hotel room.
“As more people start to travel this summer, the risk of exposure to all viruses, including [SARS-CoV-2], will be higher than it’s been for a year,” says Sarah Villafranco, MD.
“If you’re vaccinated, you can breathe a little easier knowing that your risk of contracting [SARS-CoV-2] is exceedingly low, and that, even if you did get it, you would likely have very mild symptoms.”
According to the
Planning and packing for a trip during a pandemic means there are a few extra considerations. From extra masks to wiping down seat trays and staying hydrated, here’s what to keep in mind.
Whether you’re flying or driving, be clear on expectations. Check with your specific airline ahead of time, so you know of any protocols you’ll need to follow.
If you’re staying in a hotel or rental property, call ahead to ask about the precautions they’re taking to protect guests.
Pack extra masks
Reusable masks should be washed daily, so you’ll need at least two per traveler, or more if you won’t be able to do laundry while you’re on your trip.
If you have small children with you, two back-up masks per child is a smart idea.
If you’re traveling by plane, it’s a good idea to find a bathroom, so you can wash your hands and switch into a clean mask after your flight lands.
Plan to wipe down surfaces
If you’re traveling by plane, bus, or train, make a point of wiping down nearby surfaces after boarding. It’s particularly important if you’re at a higher risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 due to your age or a pre-existing condition.
Use disinfecting wipes on any hard and non-porous surface you’re likely to touch during your trip, like the arm and head rest, food tray, any controls, and the seat buckles, and then let them dry.
You can do the same in a hotel room on items like doorknobs, phones, and remotes.
Pack your own snacks
While traveling, the fewer public things you have to touch — like vending machine buttons or public drinking fountains — the better.
Packing your own snacks means less time in crowds, too.
Consider traveler’s insurance
If you’re traveling internationally, “consider an insurance policy specific to your trip that would cover your treatment, if needed, as well as the cost of lodging for up to 2 weeks if you were required to quarantine,” Villafranco says.
“Some countries require this, but it’s a great idea even if they don’t.”
Consider enlisting a travel agent
“Travel agents can help keep track of the constantly changing rules and regulations, so you don’t have to,” Lieberman says.
An agent can help ensure that your travel plans are flexible and factors, like flights and accommodations, can be easily canceled or changed. This way, you won’t lose money if something comes up.
Consider trip enhancements
Lieberman also recommends that travelers think about putting money toward certain types of enhancements, rather than products.
“If you can buy an airport lounge pass, you’ll not only be able to avoid a crowded gate at the airport, but you’ll also have a more exclusive travel experience,” she says.
Likewise, a CLEAR membership makes it easier to move through airport security safely and more efficiently with biometrics.
“CLEAR’s Health Pass app is free to CLEAR members and is a way to securely verify proof of COVID-19 vaccination (coming soon) and COVID-19 lab tests, which can make the travel experience much safer,” she says.
While we still don’t know exactly what to expect for summer travel, many people are already making plans.
The best advice is simple: “Research and flexibility are the key to making seamless travel plans right now,” Lieberman says.
Opting for domestic travel will likely be the safest scenario. And, whether you decide to fly or make it a road trip, plan to follow current CDC recommendations for your safety and that of others.
Jessica Timmons has been working as a freelance writer since 2007, covering everything from pregnancy and parenting to cannabis, chiropractic, stand-up paddling, fitness, martial arts, home decor, and much more. Her work has appeared in mindbodygreen, Pregnancy & Newborn, Modern Parents Messy Kids, and Coffee + Crumbs. See what she’s up to now at jessicatimmons.com.