What the CDC wants you to know if you plan on traveling this summer

Traveling—and flying especially—isn’t in the cards for most people right now, my family included. But over the summer, if and as things continue to open up, many people will be looking to get away, even for just a weekend out of the city. (You might use this tool to find a meeting point that’s exactly between you and friends/family.)

If you plan to be traveling this summer in any sense, the CDC has a pageful of advice for you. It concerns travel around the United States by road, air, rail, bus, and RV. To state the obvious, in the CDC’s words, “Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. We don’t know if one type of travel is safer than others; however, airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces. These are also places where it can be hard to social distance (keep 6 feet apart from other people).”

For starters, the page links to this resource, which shows how concentrated COVID-19 cases are around the U.S.—i.e. where you’re thinking of traveling. You’ll also want to find out what the local quarantine rules are in your destination, as well as in destinations you’d need to pass through on the way. Breaking local rules, as I wrote here, could get you in serious legal trouble. State and territorial health department resources are compiled here. As for actually getting to your destination…

What to know before traveling this summer

The CDC says, “Consider the following risks for getting or spreading COVID-19, depending on how you travel:

  • Air travel: Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within 6 feet), sometimes for hours. This may increase your risk for exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Bus or train travel: Traveling on buses and trains for any length of time can involve sitting or standing within 6 feet of others.
  • Car travel: Making stops along the way for gas, food, or bathroom breaks can put you and your traveling companions in close contact with other people and surfaces.
  • RV travel: You may have to stop less often for food or bathroom breaks, but RV travel typically means staying at RV parks overnight and getting gas and supplies at other public places. These stops may put you and those with you in the RV in close contact with others.”

5 tips for summer travelers

If you do plan on traveling this summer, the CDC offers five important tips:

  • Bring enough of your medicine to last you for the entire trip.
  • Pack enough alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and keep it within easy to reach.
  • Bring a cloth face covering to wear in public places.
  • Prepare food and water for your trip. Pack non-perishable food in case restaurants and stores are closed.
  • If you are considering cleaning your travel lodgings, see CDC’s guidance on how to clean and disinfect.



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