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Are you traveling for the holidays this year? Perhaps you are planning a road trip or boarding an airplane. This season, travel is undoubtedly different than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are three tips for quarantine-era holiday travel.

Learn about the latest travel restrictions

This passenger is waiting in line for holiday travel  | JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images
Waiting in line with a passport | JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images

The best way to stay safe and keep your trip running smoothly is to keep up-to-date on the latest travel restrictions. Unfortunately, with international, state, and local restrictions, staying informed can feel overwhelming.

One great place to check for travel restrictions is the pandemic-era travel page here. Though it’s a federal site, it has links to state and local sites. It also features CDC guidelines.

But travel guidelines change quickly; sometimes, national and local websites contradict one another. Other times, private organizations such as airlines maintain restrictions in addition to government-imposed restrictions. So it never hurts to get a human being on the phone and ask what their organization’s current restrictions are.

Leave extra time for holiday travel

Getting tested for COVID during holiday travel | Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Getting tested for COVID during holiday travel | Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Whether you plan to sanitize your car or put on your N95 mask every time you get out, safe quarantine-era travel can be time-consuming. Furthermore, showing recent test results or proof of vaccination can slow you down. Finally, during the pandemic, you may have to adjust your travel plans on the go.

Leaving yourself extra time to complete pandemic-era travel may be a matter of comfort. But it may also affect your safety. You may have a great plan to keep you and your loved ones safe, but after hours of hurried travel be too exhausted to follow through. Giving yourself extra time helps you keep your guard up.

Consider flying instead of driving for your holiday travel

Airplane passengers wearing masks for holiday travel | Raul Sifuentes/Getty Images
Airplane passengers wearing masks | Raul Sifuentes/Getty Images

During the early days of the COVID-19 quarantine, the number of air travelers plummeted. People trying to stay safe during a pandemic avoided sealing themselves into an airplane with hundreds of strangers.

At the same time, the number of deadly automobile accidents increased. Recently, a panel of experts took a stand in The Washington Post to suggest that pandemic-era air travel is safer than automobile travel.

Firstly, these experts pointed out that fatal car accidents are rare but not unheard of. For example, on a 500-mile road trip, your chances of dying in a car accident are 1.2 in 200,000 or roughly 0.006%. On the other hand, fatal plane accidents cause fewer deaths than lightning strikes or bee stings. Your chances of dying in a plane accident are much lower than your chances of dying in a car accident.

A recent MIT study puts your chances of contracting COVID-19 on a crowded airplane at 1 in 3,900 (0.03%). Those odds may be worse than a fatal car accident, but the CDC’s best estimate is that people under 65 who contract COVID-19 only face a 1 in 1,200 chance of dying from the disease.

When you combine these statistics, the chance of both catching COVID-19 on an airplane and dying from it are about 1 in 4.7 million. That is considerably better odds than dying from a car crash while on a road trip.

Obviously, your unique trip may require time in multiple airports and may include high-risk places like shuttles to and from the airports. Flying is not the right choice for everyone, but experts claim it is not as dangerous as many people first thought.


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