How to Travel Safely During the COVID-19 Outbreak

how to travel safely during the covid-19 outbreak

In 2020, travel spending declined an average of 46% overall, with international spending taking the biggest hit at about 76%. The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined travel and has most people rethinking where to go, how to get there, and what precautions to take along the way. While globetrotting might not be feasible, there are still plenty of ways to get away while protecting yourself from COVID-19. Here are a few tips on how to stay safe while traveling during COVID-19 outbreak.


Simplicity in your travel plans is the key to staying safe when traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Take a trip that is as direct as possible, avoiding a lot of different means of transportation, transfers, or stops. If you must fly, remember that non-stop flights are safer since they limit your time in busy terminals. Taking a car, preferably your own, can be the safest means of travel, so look for destinations within driving distance. Taking a car will allow you to use it on local excursions, or even better, choose local activities that allow walking and bike rides.


airplane window san jose costa rica
From the airplane leaving San Jose, Costa Rica

Airlines have may have taken the largest hit during COVID-19 outbreak, but they are continually adjusting to the new reality. If you do plan to fly, remember to look at the airlines requirements before departure. All airlines and airports are requiring face masks at all times and are allowing for social distancing when possible. As of January 26th, new CDC rules took effect requiring nearly all international air travelers to present a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of travel to enter the United States and most other countries have a similar requirement. The CDC is also considering requiring testing before domestic flights as well.

While most viruses do not spread easily on planes due to industry regulations for airflow and filtration, social distancing can be difficult on crowded flights. This lack of social distancing can raise your chances of transmission of the virus, so it is important that you wear a face masks that fits well. Although the chances of transmission on an airplane may be low, traveling to/from the airport, the time you spend during check-in, security checks, boarding, and baggage claims may be far riskier than the actual flight itself.


marfa texas carlsbad new mexico road trip
Highway from Van Horn, Texas, to Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico.

Traveling by car will give you more control over your environment, but it can still put you in close contact with others and frequently touched surfaces. Planning to make as few stops as possible during your trip can limit your exposure. When stopping to get gas, you should wear a mask and use hand sanitizer after you fill gas. Bringing your own drinks and snacks/food will help limit your stops as well. If you do need to stop for food, opt for places that offer drive through or curbside services. Keeping masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes in an easy to reach location will also make it easier to stay safe while traveling by car.


Traveling by bus or train can mean being in crowded terminals and sitting/standing within 6 feet (2 meters) of others. This prolonged lack of social distancing can greatly heighten your chances of getting or spreading COVID-19. If you'll be using public transportation, maintain social distancing when possible, wear a mask, and use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after reaching your destination.

Travel Restrictions

It is best to check the travel requirements/restrictions of your destination and any place you will be stopping along the way before you travel. State and local governments may have requirements for entering like mask mandates, mandatory quarantine, and/or submitting health forms. State and local health department websites are your best resource for this information. The CDC also has a webpage that can help direct you to the right site. Keep in mind that restrictions can change rapidly depending on local conditions. Always check for updates as your trip gets closer.

Where to Stay

camping carlsbad caverns new mexico
Camping outside Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

When you are choosing your lodging, opt for hotels that use contact-less payment, plexiglass barriers at check-in counters, and physical distancing signs in the lobby to limit your exposure. Most hotels have upped their game when it comes to cleaning; realizing travelers concerns about coronavirus and safety. That being said, you should still disinfect high use areas like doorknobs, light switches, remote control, etc. Choose a room with adequate air conditioning/filtration system, or even better yet, a room with opening windows or balcony. Fresh air from outside is the best form of ventilation.

When it comes to fresh air, maybe consider camping as a lodging option. There is nothing like camping in the great outdoors! Experience the many great National and State Parks across the country. Or go further afoot and enjoy some of the free primitive camping spots to make your road-trip a true adventure. There are a few websites and apps out there that I use to do just that.  Take a look at my guide to free camping in the USA.

Before You Travel

Before you travel you should make sure to ask yourself these questions. If you answer yes to any of them, then you might need to reassess your travel plans.

  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you live or at your destination? The more cases in either location, the easier it will be to catch or spread the virus
  • Are you, your travel partner/s, or someone in your household at risk of severe illness? If you get infected you can spread the virus to those you visit or to those in your household when you return, even if you don't have symptoms.
  • Are you traveling in a manner (bus, train, plane, etc.) that will make social distancing difficult? The lack of social distancing for a prolonged time will increase your chances of catching or spreading COVID-19.
  • Does your destination, or stops along the way, have requirements or restrictions? Make sure you check your updates as your trip gets closer so that you are not surprised when you arrive.

How are you staying safe while traveling?

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