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We’re more than 2 years 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. 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

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$20
  • $$$ = over $20

Best face mask for traveling

Enro Face Masks

  • Price: $$

We’re no strangers to face masks these days. Even if state requirements vary, the CDC advises wearing a mask with the best fit, protection, and comfort for you. Cloth masks should be with two or more layers of tightly woven fabric.

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.

Best hand sanitizer for safe travel

OH.SO Hands Sanitizer

  • Price: $

While washing your hands with soap and water is the best option, it’s not always possible while traveling. That’s where hand sanitizer comes in.

The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, and OH.SO’s California-crafted options fit the bill. Their hand sanitizers are made with 65 percent ethanol.

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.

While some research supports this, more studies are needed. Additionally, it’s important to know that colloidal silver is not safe to consume, since it can build up in the body and cause argyria.

Best wipes for disinfecting surfaces

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes

  • 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.

Best way to clean your hands

Soapy Mate Mini Paper Soap Sheets

  • 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.

Best tech for traveling

INIU Portable Charger

  • 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.

Best hydration hack for traveling

Healthy Human Water Bottle

  • 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.

Best in-a-pinch product for traveling

Kleenex On-The-Go Tissues

  • 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.

Best dual-purpose phone product

PhoneSoap Go UV Sanitizer

  • 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.

In just 10 minutes, the PhoneSoap Go kills germs, whether you’re in the car, on the plane, or settling into your hotel room.

Best protective travel product

X3 Clear Vinyl Industrial Gloves

  • Price: $–$$$

Even when you have hand sanitizer with you, it can sometimes feel more convenient and safe to put on gloves before touching possibly contaminated areas. Here’s where the X3 Clear Vinyl Industrial Gloves come in.

These gloves are designed to fit loosely and feel comfortable to the touch. They’re also latex-free, making them allergen-friendly for people who are allergic to natural rubber.

However, always sanitize or wash your hands before putting on the gloves and after removing them, and avoid touching your face when you have them on.

Best product to know your COVID-19 status

EmpowerDX At-Home COVID-19 PCR Test

  • Price: $$$

At-home tests offer a convenient and time-saving way to screen yourself for a potential coronavirus infection anytime and anywhere.

Knowing your COVID-19 status helps protect others from contracting the virus from you, especially at-risk groups like older adults, people with certain health conditions, and people who are or were recently pregnant.

The CDC recommends taking self-tests in the following situations:

  • if you show any COVID-19 symptoms
  • 5 days after exposure to someone with COVID-19
  • before going to an event

The EmpowerDX At-Home COVID-19 PCR Test kit is FDA approved under emergency use authorization (EUA) for detecting a coronavirus infection, including with the Delta and Omicron variants. Airlines also accept this test to clear you for airline travel.

You’ll receive your test result 2 to 3 days after mailing it to the company’s lab.

Best nifty travel tool

SaniKey Contactless Safety Tool Keychain

  • Price: $$

Using the SaniKey Contactless Safety Tool Keychain, you can protect yourself from touching surfaces in public places that are likely contaminated with germs like door handles and knobs, light switches, buttons, and touchscreens.

This key keeps you 99 percent away from contact surfaces that hold germs to reduce your risk of getting sick during travel.

Reviewers say it works just as it’s described.

Best practical travel product

iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer

  • Price: $$

Having a thermometer allows you to check your temperature at any time.

Fever, usually indicated by a body temperature over 100.4°F (38°C), is a main symptom of COVID-19. A thermometer can detect your body temperature to know whether to isolate and take a COVID-19 test or not.

The iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer is a non-contact thermometer that reads your temperature within a second after pressing the button. This device is small and portable, making it easy to carry it with you anywhere you go.

Best product for keepsakes

Specialist ID Heavy Duty Vaccine Card Holder

  • Price: $

Now that more businesses are opening up, some may require to see proof of vaccination before entry. Having a vaccine cardholder to keep your vaccine card protected and safe can ensure you have it with you to present anytime upon request.

The Specialist ID Heavy Duty Vaccine Card Holder is clear, so you don’t have to bring out the card from the protector for anyone to see the details.

Best travel companion for sleep

Calpak Neck Pillow and Eye Mask

  • Price: $$$

Depending on how long you’ll be on your flight, you might need to catch some sleep. Sleep helps your body relieve itself of stress and feel refreshed. You also reduce your chances of getting to your destination feeling exhausted.

The Calpak Neck Pillow and Eye Mask is made with hypoallergenic silk and is portable enough for you to carry along on your trips. The neck pillow helps support your neck and prevent straining when resting. You can wear the eye mask to create the dark environment you need to fall asleep quickly.

Best bag for travel

Uniqlo Canvas Tote Bag

  • Price: $$$

The Uniqlo Canvas Tote Bag offers a simple and convenient way to have all your things in one place for easy access and hassle-free movement.

This bag has pockets to store items of different sizes, so you can move around knowing that your things are safe and easy to reach. The bag is made with three layers of canvas, including a water-resistant film between two layers so it’s suitable and durable for long-term use.

The bag is water resistant, which helps protect your items from any moisture, rain, or other forms of precipitation.

Best travel product for preparedness

Surviveware Small First Aid Kit

  • Price: $$$

The CDC recommends traveling with a first aid kit that contains:

  • tweezers
  • antibacterial or antifungal ointments
  • oral rehydration salts
  • disposable gloves
  • antiseptic wound cleaner
  • aloe gel for sunburns
  • cotton swabs
  • eye drops
  • insect bite anti-itch gel or cream
  • bandages

Having a first aid kit with these items or others according to your needs allows you access to immediate medical care whenever you need it, so you won’t be stranded for care or wait for too long for help to arrive.

The Surviveware Small First Aid Kit contains some of these CDC-recommended supplies, and has pockets for you to pack other critical medical items. It’s also lightweight and convenient to carry.

Made from durable 600D polyester, you won’t have to worry about getting a new first aid pack in the near future. This first aid kit has a 4.8-star average rating from 6,680 ratings on Amazon. Many reviewers said the kit was well-thought-out and a worthy purchase.

“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,” she says.

According to the CDC, people who are fully vaccinated can travel safely in the United States, but they should still wear a mask, practice physical distancing, and wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.

The CDC also recommends you check the COVID-19 levels at your travel destination to prepare accordingly.

If you’re traveling internationally, you can check for COVID-19 levels at your travel destination via the CDC’s Travel Recommendation by Destination. You can also check COVID-19 levels in U.S. counties here.

Following the CDC’s directive, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) extended the mandatory mask mandate on public transport from March 18, 2022, to April 18, 2022. Within this period, the CDC will create a new policy determining circumstances that require using face masks in public transportation.

However, Dr. Sophia Yen, CEO and co-founder of Pandia Health, recommends that travelers still limit travel and wear a KN95 or N95 mask on public transport, in restaurants, and at other public places to reduce their risk of getting COVID-19.

She warns that following a surge of the Omicron subvariant BA.2, there may potentially be a COVID-19 surge in the United States, too, especially in low mask use and low vaccination areas.

What’s more, wearing a mask at all times during travel not only protects you from COVID-19, but it also protects particularly vulnerable groups of people, including:

  • older adults
  • people who are or were recently pregnant
  • people living with HIV
  • people with autoimmune diseases
  • people with health conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases

These folks have a higher risk of developing severe side effects from COVID-19, including death.

Planning and packing for a trip during a pandemic means there are a few extra considerations to keep in mind. From packing extra masks to wiping down seat trays and staying hydrated, here are some things to keep in mind.

Call ahead

Whether you’re flying or driving, be clear on expectations. Check with your specific airline on any protocols you need to be aware of ahead of time so you’re prepared ready to travel.

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 or more per traveler 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 before and after your flight 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, and keeping a water bottle with you at all times ensures you stay hydrated throughout your trip.

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 two weeks if you would be 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 that 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.

NAMEBEST PRODUCT FORPRICE
Enro Face MaskFace mask$$
OH.SO Hand SanitizerClean hands$
Clorox Disinfecting WipesDisinfecting surfaces$$
Soapy Mate Mini Paper Soap SheetsWashing your hands$
INIU Portable ChargerTech for travel$$
Healthy Human Water BottleHydration$$$
Kleenex On-the-Go TissuesIn-a-pinch$
PhoneSoap Go UV SanitizerDual purpose phone product$$$
X3 Clear Vinyl Industrial GlovesProtection$-$$$
EmpowerDX at-home COVID-19 PCR TestKnowing COVID-19 status$$$
SaniKeyNifty tool$$
iHealth No-Touch ThermometerPractical use$$
Specialist ID Vaccine Card HolderKeepsakes$
Calpak Neck Pillow and Eye MaskSleep$$$
Uniqlo Canvas Tote BagBag$$$
Surviveware Small First Aid KitPreparedness$$$

What should you wear when traveling on a plane during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The most important aspect of traveling is to wear your mask correctly to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

You can also wear gloves to prevent directly touching public surface areas prone to contamination. Wash or sanitize your hands before putting on the gloves and after removing them.

Try not to touch your face with unwashed hands when traveling, whether you’re wearing gloves or not.

Can you travel without taking a COVID-19 test if you’re vaccinated?

The CDC recommends that every traveler take a COVID-19 test not more than 3 days before travel to know their status and protect others from possible infection.

Can you travel if you’re not vaccinated?

The CDC recommends postponing nonessential travel plans until you’re fully vaccinated to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Where are the safest places to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic?

According to the CDC, the following countries have the lowest COVID-19 cases:

  • Angola
  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cameroon
  • Cape Verde
  • China
  • Comoros
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Djibouti
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Ethiopia
  • Falkland Islands
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Mozambique
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Rwanda
  • Saba
  • São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Taiwan
  • Togo
  • Uganda

Therefore, you’re at a lower risk of having or transmitting COVID-19 during your stay in these destinations. However, the CDC still recommends that you’re vaccinated before visiting these places.

Do phone sanitizers work?

Phone sanitizers work because they use ultraviolet (UV) light to disinfect the phone from the coronavirus. A 2021 study found that UV lights do kill the coronavirus on contaminated surface areas.

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.