Safety Considerations While Traveling During Covid-19

A study of American travel habits by Longwood International found that “half of American travelers are currently planning to stay home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or New Year’s Eve,” and that about the same number feel that the Covid-19 pandemic “will greatly impact their travel decisions in the next six months.”

The study also found that 40% of Americans are planning to travel by car during the holidays, and less than 25% are planning to travel by plane. The research indicates that Americans’ holiday travel plans are divided evenly between the four major winter holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa. In a statement about the study, the company’s President and CEO, Amir Eylon, said: “With the number of new COVID cases rising in more than half the states, we can expect further disruption in family holiday travel plans… The number of actual holiday travelers in 2020 will likely be driven by the perceived safety and/or risk of taking such trips during the holiday period.”

Despite the pandemic, AAA expects about 47.8 million people to travel by car during the Thanksgiving holiday, only a few million short of the roughly 50 million who traveled by car for Thanksgiving last year, according to the Los Angeles Times, which offers a few tips for car travel during the holiday.

Drivers should first and foremost use official resources to keep track of coronavirus infection levels (and safety guidelines) in the regions they’re traveling to. They should use a disinfectant to clean their car, especially “high-touch areas” like handles, the steering wheel, and high-use buttons like temperature and volume controls. Travelers should conduct vehicular checkups—including tires, fluid, and belts—and any necessary maintenance in advance of the trip, to minimize the risk of getting stuck on the roads, or risking exposure to conduct checkups while traveling.

The LATimes additionally advises that travelers stock up on personal protective equipment—masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer—not only for themselves, but for every occupant of their car. They should be sure to wash hands before and after using gas station restrooms, and should “create a rest-stop kit”—soap, paper towels, toilet paper, toilet seat covers, hand sanitizer—for every car occupant. Travelers can reduce their need to take stops while traveling (and consequently their risk of exposure) by packing snacks and drinks, in a cooler if necessary. Finally, they should be sure to carry extra charging equipment for their phones, and wipe down high-touch areas in hotel rooms.

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