Travel During A Pandemic

Travel during a pandemic such as Covid-19 is not risk free though steps can be done to mitigate those risk.  Here is why I have chosen to have limited travel during this pandemic.

The CDC and government officials have advised everyone that the best place to be during the pandemic is staying home.  And that is the best place to be if you are trying to eliminate all risks.  However, as humans we also need to take care of our mental health and for me one of the best ways to do that is a road trip.  I have chosen to take limited trips in the past year in order to maintain balance in my life.  Whatever you chose to do make sure you know the risks and are comfortable in whatever you do.  Here are the steps and reasons I have taken to limit risks of exposure while traveling.

First and foremost I have to decide where I am traveling to.  My criteria when looking at a place to travel to is key to deciding where I will go.  A no to any of these questions likely will cause me to go elsewhere or to stay home to begin with.  First I look at any possible restrictions on travel.  If it is something that I can’t abide by, such as long quarantines, then that location will remain off the list.  A prime example is New York which has had some of the strictest travel restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic.  Regardless of my opinions of any of the restrictions it is their rules and I am a visitor so I should respect them.  Though I am sad I haven’t been able to visit Niagara and Cooperstown in the past year.

Secondly when deciding where to visit I look at the stats.  The main stat I choose to look at is Cases per 100k figured by the following formula: 7-day average cases/population*100,000.  This is the calculation my home state of Kentucky uses to determine their color codes so it makes it real easy to compare potential destinations with my home risk.  A great resource in comparing cases is Covid Act Now.  The site is searchable by county and uses the same formula to compare different areas.  If a location I am thinking of going to is significantly higher than my local numbers I will choose a different location or will stay home.

The other determining factor on where to travel to is what outdoor activities are available where social distancing is easier to do.  If the majority of the activities at a destination is indoors, the risk of contracting Covid greatly increases.  Especially in places that are known to be tourist destinations like the Smoky Mountains.  Again all of this is contingent upon your comfort level.

After I decide on the location I prepare by reading up on the local regulations, looking at any rules or ticket policies at any attraction I may go to, and then plan accordingly.  This may mean take out or outdoor dining when possible or eating in the car.  I also pack plenty of masks, Xlear nasal spray, and plan on being my natural introvert while on the trip.  I may be going on “vacation” but I take the same precautions that I do at home.

One other tip is that each state will have different services available.  Maryland for example had its restrooms open at their welcome centers but the traveler information center was closed.  Tennessee however had gift bags available for free that included hand sanitizer and masks.

Finally, it is extremely important to be flexible when planning your trip.  If you start to feel under the weather it is imperative that you stay home.  Most hotels and airlines will let you change plans for free right now.  Also the situation in the cities that you are going to can change rapidly.  Respect the local rules where you go.  You are a guest and any inconvenience such as a mask is a small price to pay to let you travel and more importantly let the local businesses remain open and hopefully survive the economic stress the pandemic and government restrictions have put on these businesses and workers.  It costs zero to be kind and now is the most important time to do so.

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