Travel During COVID-19: What Your Family Should Know

Lifestyle     by Rita Tarnate     Sep 9, 2020     5 min read

Mom hiking with her baby in a hiking backpack

TL;DR for Busy Parents

  • So far, few children have contracted COVID-19 and the risk to them remains low. For otherwise healthy kids, the effects of the virus have been less severe than in adults.
  • Each region’s response to the virus is constantly changing. Before traveling, it’s important to do your research and know before you go.
  • Talk to your kids about the measures your family can take against COVID-19. Call ahead to ask if your travel provider is implementing any additional safety policies.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still believes that the best way to avoid contracting and spreading coronavirus is to stay at home. However, in their July Covid-19 Travel Insight Report, the travel marketing experts at MMGY determined that the number of leisure travelers who are “extremely likely to travel” has surprisingly remained unchanged.

As places reopen and stay-at-home orders are lifted, you may be wondering if it’s safe to travel. Whether you’re traveling out of necessity or by choice, we hope the following resources and information helps to reduce your risk of infection and empowers your family to stay healthy.

What We Know About COVID-19

Despite the many unknowns surrounding this new virus, we do know that it’s mainly spread through respiratory droplets transferred between people in close contact. These droplets can travel as far as six feet and are released by coughing, sneezing, and talking.

Adults continue to make up the majority of cases and, of the kids who tested positive, there have been few deaths under the age of five. While it’s much too early to tell, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is starting to see signs that children may be less likely to contract or transmit the virus.

The virus generally presents with flu-like symptoms but you may not show any symptoms at all. It’s also possible to spread the virus before or without feeling any symptoms.

Know Before You Go

If your family is thinking about traveling outside of your local community, here are some important things to consider as you question the decision to go.

Minimize your risk of exposure and the chances of bringing COVID-19 home with you. Assess your destination and see if it’s spreading there.

The CDC regularly posts confirmed cases around the world and this useful map tracks the spread of the virus.

If cases are spiking in your local community, consider postponing travel to avoid the possibility of spreading it to others.

According to the CDC, healthy children are at less risk of getting COVID-19 than adults. Visit their website for more details on people considered high-risk. Travel is not recommended if anyone in your travel party has one or more risk factors.

Because the virus is spread through close, person-to-person contact, it’s not a good idea to visit big cities or crowded areas right now. An outdoor vacation is probably your safest bet.

There has been a lot of discrepancy in how various regions and businesses are managing the ‘return to normalcy.’ North Carolina launched an initiative called “Count on Me” as a way for businesses and tourists to stay informed and actively do their part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Check local state restrictions to find out what’s open and if mandatory quarantine is required for visitors.

If you’re planning to travel overseas, know that some countries have imposed travel restrictions on tourists coming from the United States.

If you or someone in your family were to get coronavirus while traveling, ask yourself if you’d be able to miss work or school, and if you can afford any costs associated with treatment.

The World Health Organization (WHO) 
The World Health Organization is staying on top of how the virus is spreading across the world. You can view detailed statistics by region via their global tracker.

Up-to-Date Travel Recommendations
The CDC is constantly updating its travel recommendations so be aware of any last-minute changes that could affect your plans.

What You Can Do

Whether you stay local or venture out, there are precautions you can take to minimize your risk of getting and spreading the virus.

If you haven’t already, talk to your kids about everything that’s happening and use simple terms.

When visiting family or friends, be sure to establish guidelines that everyone is comfortable with.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s possible to have the virus and spread it without showing symptoms. To avoid putting yourself or others at risk, maintain a safe distance, and wear a mask.

Current guidelines require a mask for anyone over the age of three. Give your toddler time to adjust and practice wearing masks at home.

Hand-washing is your number one defense against any virus. Wash your hands often and carry safe-to-use hand sanitizer when you travel. Baby Shark makes hygiene fun and the time it takes to sing the alphabet meets current guidelines.

When leaving home, it’s also a good idea to sanitize high-touch surfaces. Cleaning wipes are hard to find these days but you can pack your go-to cleaning solution in a travel-sized bottle along with paper towels or a cleaning cloth.

For additional safety, have everyone in the family shower and change clothes upon arrival.

Read up on airport and airline policies before booking flights. From touchless bag checks to blocked middle seats, many have made updates to include increased safety measures.

This comprehensive list outlines updated ticketing policies for many major carriers. If your schedule allows it, book the first flight of the day and try to snag a window seat.

Lastly, be sure to follow the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) tips for safely navigating the airport.

Depending on your level of comfort, your family may choose to drive versus fly. Plan your route carefully and pack lots of snacks. If you need to stop, avoid places with a surge of cases and book accommodations ahead of time.

Short distances are definitely to your advantage. Besides less time entertaining kids in the car, there are also fewer touchpoints, which minimizes exposure to the virus.

Many of the major hotel/resort chains are meeting or exceeding new safety guidelines released by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Call ahead to ask about COVID-19 prevention practices like contactless check-ins/check-outs and cleaning seals.

For Airbnb stays, ask your host about prior reservations and how many days there would be between their departure and your arrival.

In addition to wiping down high-touch surfaces, open windows, if you can, to allow fresh air to circulate. As far as bedding goes, stick to what makes you comfortable – crib sheets are small and easy to pack. Coronavirus transmission through surfaces is possible but the main cause of spread is still between humans.

The road to recovery won’t be consistent so it’s more important than ever to be flexible and stay informed. Whatever you decide, exercise caution not only for yourselves but for those around you.

Has your family traveled during the pandemic? Let us know about your experience in the comments.

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