Traveling During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Updated: Dec 30, 2021
I would first like to say, I am by no means an expert on anything COVID-19 related (obviously). Also, although people are traveling during the pandemic, you should be the only person deciding whether or not you will travel. You do what makes you feel comfortable and safe.
In Autumn 2020 I flew to Colorado and spent a few weeks exploring. I needed a break and to be honest, I think everyone else in the world needs a break too. Currently, flying seems to be a big debate. Some studies have shown that contracting COVID-19 on a plane is less likely than you think but exposure to the virus is still present. Some people believe flying is too dangerous/risky, while others believe it is okay as long as precautions are taken. I highly recommend doing some research on this and the rules for airports, airlines, activities, accommodations, and destinations before you decide to travel.
Here are a few COVID-related things I noticed while traveling (this is solely based on my experience):
1. Be Respectful.
We were walking on a trail that was practically deserted. One lady passed us and another man on a bicycle passed us. The person I was with had his mask off because he was eating a snack. Everyone else in our group had their masks on and no one was around us. The lady passed us and we distanced ourselves from her as we passed. The man on the bicycle rode past and said (quite loudly and aggressively) "You need to wear a mask!!" We were thoroughly confused because everyone had a mask on but the one person who was eating. We only had one other comment about "standing too close to another group" as we were all in line to board a shuttle bus (we weren't close to them, but we backed to respect their boundaries). No matter what you believe or what other people believe, be respectful.
I knew the risks that come with traveling during a pandemic when I booked my flight. Although I was traveling (I didn't stay in a hotel or go to any crowded areas), I knew that other people aren't traveling. Maybe they were considered high-risk, but they still had to go to work to provide for their families. Maybe they needed to get out of the house for mental health reasons. Whatever their reasons are for being out, be respectful. If someone wants to stand more than 6 feet away or wear a mask even when you're social distancing, respect their decisions (as long as it doesn't negatively affect you).
2. Bring a Mask Everywhere You Go
A lot of places require you to wear a mask. I like to keep one at home and one in my car or in my bag in case I forget to bring one. If you're inside, most places will require a mask (unless you're eating inside a restaurant) and if you're outside, you will possibly be asked to wear a mask when you're around other people (but you will not be required to wear one when you're isolated).
3. Social Distance
For the safety/health of yourself and others, social distance. Whether you're inside or outside, be considerate of your space and the space of others around you. We social distanced as much as possible; the hardest place to do that was in the airport and at the grocery store. Most places you visit will also ask you to social distance, especially indoors.
4. Know Your Boundaries
Some people are comfortable with being around others, while some are not. Before you set off on a journey, know your boundaries. If you don't want to be around a bunch of people or if you aren't comfortable with eating inside restaurants, plan accordingly. Make sure your travel buddies know your boundaries, too.
5. Be Flexible (and make sure everything is able to be cancelled)
Due to COVID-19, plans change... some even change last minute. Traveling during the pandemic requires some flexibility. Case numbers will be low one day and high the next, therefore, new safety measures are put in place quite often. Make sure you only book things that are able to be cancelled (unless you are ok with your money going down the drain 🤷♀️). Also, when deciding where you'll travel, make sure you're flexible with your destination. You may really want to visit a certain city, but putting off your visit until after the pandemic might be for the best.
6. Follow the Rules
Some destinations have regulations in place for certain travelers. Before booking and arriving at your destination, check the regulations they have in place. If you're traveling within the US, some states require negative COVID tests and/or quarantine for travelers from specific states. If you're traveling internationally, most countries require a negative test and/or quarantine from unvaccinated travelers. You may also be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test upon return to your home country.
Personally, I felt that traveling to Colorado wasn't that much riskier than remaining in my home state, Texas. While in Colorado, I was doing practically everything that I was doing in Texas and I wore a mask, social distanced, and only ate outside or at my accommodation. Because of this, I felt the riskiest part was sitting at the airport and being on an airplane (and eating/drinking at the airport and on the plane). This was my opinion about traveling during the pandemic and my reasoning behind deciding to go. Like I said earlier, it is your decision and no one else's. Do your research. Weigh your options. Have fun and be safe!