Traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic may increase your risk of contracting coronavirus. Which is why there are many travel advisories all over the world.
The best way to prevent yourself from getting the virus is to stay home and minimize contact with others, if you go out in public, it's important to wear a face mask. However, it is understandable that people would like to travel and need to travel before a vaccine is on the market. It is important to analyze your own individual risks before deciding whether it is appropriate for you to travel. Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to travel:
Do you feel sick? If you or any of your family members are feeling ill, stay home and postpone your trip. Traveling while feeling ill can potentially increase your risk of getting COVID-19 if you are sick with another illness or spread the virus to more people if you have COVID-19.
Are there high rates of COVID-19 at your destination? If you are planning on traveling to an area that is a hotspot, you may want to reschedule your trip or change your destination. Traveling to a hotspot during a local outbreak increases your chance of infection.
Are there restrictions for travelers entering your destination? Many states have now imposed restrictions for travelers, requiring them to quarantine for 14 days upon entry. At the end of this article we give a breakdown of travel advisories by state.
What are your health conditions and personal risks? Consider any pre-existing medical conditions you may have, your age, your lifestyle and habits. Are you at high risk if you contract COVID-19? If so, you may want to postpone your travel plans.
What are your health conditions and personal risks?
Consider any pre-existing medical conditions you may have, your age, your lifestyle and habits. Are you at high risk if you contract COVID-19? If so, you may want to postpone your travel plans.
Types of travel
If you decide to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, consider the risks of your means for traveling. Traveling on a plane, bus, train, car and RV may include certain behaviors that have different levels or risks. Here are some things to consider:
May be in close contact with others while waiting on lines, going through security and sitting on the plane - social distancing may not be possible
May need to take a taxi or public transit to get to and from the airport
Risk of getting COVID-19 through the air on an airplane is low due to circulation
Bus and train
May be in close proximity to others based on seating location for the duration of your ride - social distancing may not be possible
Although you are not at risk while in the car with members of your household, making stops for gas, food, and bathroom breaks may put you into contact with other people and contaminated surfaces
Staying at RV parks for the night or getting gas could put you into contact with other people and contaminated surfaces
Is it safe to stay at a hotel? Or rent a car?
Whether a hotel is safe depends on several factors. Some things to consider before staying at a hotel are:
Is your hotel taking precautions in terms of social distancing and sanitation?
Will you take action to ensure you are staying in a clean place?
How many people do you intend to stay with?
Do you have pre-existing conditions that put you at elevated risk?
There is always some risk when staying at a hotel, since you will be coming into contact with staff at the hotel, you will be in common areas such as a lobby or elevator, and your room may not be properly disinfected.
However, if your hotel is taking precautions, such as increased cleaning, mask wearing, and limiting the number of guests, your risk of contracting coronavirus will be lower. Check out some hotel’s initiatives to stop the spread of coronavirus, such as Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International, and American Hotel Lodging Association.
Additionally, you can take extra steps to lower your risk. For example, it is suggested that you disinfect all surfaces of your room upon entry, such as door handles, counters, and nightstands.
You should also wear a mask in all common areas and avoid being in an elevator with many people. You can also call your hotel and ask to be put in a room that has been vacated for at least one full day. It is also noted that it is unlikely that coronavirus will spread between hotel rooms as long as air circulation is good.
It is generally safer to rent a car than take public transport where you will be exposed to more people. However, since COVD-19 can live on surfaces, it is important to disinfect the rental car before use. You can do this by wiping down the doors, handles, steering wheel, and seats.
Are cruises safe?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently announced a No Sail Order that will be effective through September 30th 2020. The No Sail Order suspends passenger operations on cruise ships that hold 250 passengers.
Additionally, cruise ships that have passengers have been suspended by the Cruise Lines International Association until September 15th 2020, so most cruises for the summer and fall have already been cancelled.
If you are considering going on a cruise after September 15th, you should evaluate the cruise line’s social distancing and sanitary precautions to see if you are comfortable with them.
Since there were several cases where entire cruise ships were quarantined in March and April, you may want to consider holding off on a cruise if you have a chronic medical condition. You will likely be able to get a refund or get credit for a future cruise.
Tips to stay healthy if traveling during the coronavirus pandemic
If you decide to travel via a plane, car, bus, or train, there are several precautions you can take to minimize your risk of contracting COVID-19.
If traveling on a plane, bus, train or other public transportation, make sure to wear a mask for the duration of your trip. Wearing a mask can lower your risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus.
Stay at least 6 feet away from people when possible. While this is not always possible on busses, trains, or planes, try to sit in non crowded areas if you can.
If you touch any surface, such as a bathroom, a railing, chair arm rests, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water or sanitize immediately after.
Avoid touching your face - specifically your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your face, you may unknowingly infect yourself with coronavirus.
If traveling in a car, minimize stops and the number of people you come into contact with on those stops.
Keep your immune system strong before and during travel. You can do this by catching up on sleep, eating healthy, taking vitamins, exercising and drinking lots of fluids.
Travel within the United States: State by State travel restrictions
If you decide to travel to another state, it is important to be aware of that state’s travel restrictions. Below is a breakdown of the statewide travel restrictions in each of the 50 states. Information was adapted from CNN Travel and BallotPedia.
Some states restrict travel from states that have 5%, 10%, or 15% positivity rates for coronavirus.
The CDC updates the number of COVID-19 cases in each state daily and each state’s website gives a specific breakdown of which states have surpassed the maximum positivity rate Check back for weekly updates. Latest update was 09/09/20.
Alabama: No statewide restrictions
Alaska: Anyone who travels to Alaska must have a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of departure. Travelers can get tested when they arrive in Alaska for $250 or quarantine for 14 days.
Arizona: No statewide restrictions
Arkansas: No statewide restrictions
California: No statewide restrictions, but check for wildfires before travel
Colorado: No statewide restrictions
Connecticut: Anyone who travels to Connecticut from a state that has a 10% or higher positivity rate for coronavirus must quarantine for 14 days. Travelers can be exempt from the quarantine by providing proof of a negative test. An online health form must also be submitted online before entering Connecticut.
Delaware: No statewide restrictions
Florida: No statewide restrictions
Georgia: No statewide restrictions
Hawaii: Anyone who travels to Hawaii, resident or non-resident, must quarantine for 14 days. This quarantine will be in order until September 30th. If not followed, individuals can expect a $5,000 fine and jail time.
Idaho: No statewide restrictions; however, visitors are encouraged to quarantine for 14 days
Illinois: No statewide restrictions; however, a 14 day quarantine is required for individuals who are traveling to the city of Chicago from certain states. The list of states can be found here
Indiana: No statewide restrictions
Iowa: No statewide restrictions
Kansas: Anyone who falls into the following categories must quarantine for 14 days upon entry to Kansas - attended a mass gathering of over 500 people, went on a cruise ship , recently traveled internationally to a country with a CDC level 3 restriction, or traveled from Florida.
Kentucky: Anyone who travels to Kentucky from a state that has a 15% or higher positivity rate for coronavirus are encouraged quarantine for 14 days.
Louisiana: No statewide restrictions
Maine: Anyone who travels to Maine must have a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of departure. Travelers can get tested when they arrive in Maine or quarantine for 14 days. Travelers from the following states are exempt: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire.
Maryland: No statewide restrictions
Massachusetts: Anyone who travels to Massachusetts must quarantine for 14 days. Travelers can be exempt from the quarantine by providing proof of a negative test result. An online health form must also be submitted online before entering Massachusetts.
Michigan: No statewide restrictions
Minnesota: No statewide restrictions
Mississippi: No statewide restrictions
Missouri: No statewide restrictions
Montana: No statewide restrictions
Nebraska: No statewide restrictions
Nevada: No statewide restrictions
New Hampshire: No statewide restrictions; however, those who are traveling from outside New England and staying an extended period of time are asked to self quarantine for 14 days.
New Jersey: Anyone who travels to New Jersey from a state that has a 10% or higher positivity rate for coronavirus must quarantine for 14 days. Visitors are asked to fill out a form regarding their travel information as well. Visitors who enter the state for less than 24 hours are exempt.
New Mexico: Anyone who travels to New Mexico must quarantine for 14 days. Essential workers, airline employees, and military personnel are exempt.
New York: Anyone who travels to New York from a state that has a 10% or higher positivity rate for coronavirus must quarantine for 14 days. Visitors must fill out a form online regarding their travel information as well or face a $2,000 fine. Visitors who enter the state for less than 24 hours are exempt.
North Carolina: No statewide restrictions
North Dakota: No statewide restrictions
Ohio: Anyone who travels to Ohio from a state that has a 15% or higher positivity rate for coronavirus are encouraged quarantine for 14 days.
Oklahoma: No statewide restrictions
Oregon: No statewide restrictions
Pennsylvania: Anyone who travels to Pennsylvania from a state with a high number of coronavirus cases is asked to quarantine for 14 days. The full list can be found here
Rhode Island: Anyone who travels to Rhode Island from a state that has a 5% or higher positivity rate for coronavirus must quarantine for 14 days. Travelers arriving can be exempt from the quarantine by providing proof of a negative test. Individuals waiting on test results must quarantine.
South Carolina: No statewide restrictions; however, individuals who have traveled from areas with “widespread or ongoing community spread” should quarantine for 14 days.
South Dakota: No statewide restrictions
Tennessee: No statewide restrictions
Texas: No statewide restrictions
Utah: No statewide restrictions
Vermont: Anyone who travels to Vermont on a plane or bust must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Anyone who travels by car can either self quarantine before or after arrival. Those coming from a county with less than 400 cases per million people are exempt from this restriction.
Virginia: No statewide restrictions
Washington: No statewide restrictions
West Virginia: No statewide restrictions
Wisconsin: No statewide restrictions; however, it is recommended that travelers stay home for 14 days.
Wyoming: No statewide restrictions
International Travel: General guidelines on travel outside of the US
Effective as of August 7th, there is no longer a restriction advising U.S. citizens to return home or avoid international travel. However, this doesn’t mean that you can travel to any country or that it is safe to do so. Many countries have varying restrictions regarding travel and quarantine upon arrival.
Countries that do not permit travel
Europe (for U.S. citizens)
Countries that permit travel with restrictions
Below is a list of countries that U.S. citizens are allowed to travel to with some restrictions in place. This list is subject to change as the spread of the virus slows or progresses in the U.S. This information was adapted from the Department of Health and an article from Afar.com. Latest update August 13th 2020.
Antigua and Barbuda: must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test
Aruba: those traveling from 24 states with high coronavirus cases must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. These states are listed here
The Bahamas: travel is strongly discouraged; however, if you decide to travel you must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine for 14 days after arrival
Barbados: must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or take test upon arrival
Belize: beginning August 15th, travelers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or take test upon arrival
Bermuda: must be tested twice for COVID-19 - 5 days before travel and upon arrival
Croatia: must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for 14 days
The Dominican Republic: must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test and temperatures will be taken upon arrival
Egypt: differs by country - apply for a visa online before travel
French Polynesia: must be tested twice for COVID-19 - before travel and 4 days after arrival
Ireland: must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival
Jamaica: travelers will get temperature checks and possible health screenings upon arrival
Puerto Rico: only open for essential travel - this does not include tourism
The Maldives: guests must stay confined to their resort island for the duration of their stay
Mexico: Mexican states have different guidelines for travel - check the area you plan to visit
Rwanda: must be tested twice for COVID-19 - 72 hours before travel and upon arrival
St Barths: must show proof of negative COVID-19 results before arrival
St. Lucia: must show proof of negative COVID-19 results before arrival and undergo temperature checks
Saint Maarten: no current restrictions
St. Vincent and the Grenadines: avoid all nonessential travel
Serbia: no current restrictions
Seychelles: avoid all nonessential travel
Tanzania: travelers need to fill out a health form and will be subject to screening upon arrival
Turkey: travelers will have temperature taken and may be subject to further health assessments
Turks and Caicos: must show proof of negative COVID-19 results before arrival, get authorization through an online portal, and have medical insurance that will cover the cost of care for COVID-19
United Kingdom: must quarantine for 14 days or get fined over $1,200