Traveling During the Holidays?
“My family and I are not traveling over the holidays this year. In other years, we would normally go on a quick vacation, but the pandemic is stopping that,” said Kian Sharifi ’24. As we enter November, the official beginning of the holiday season, the excitement for planning a festive holiday gathering or a relaxing getaway at your favorite vacation spots seem like a distant memory amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
For most of us, Thanksgiving is one of the hallmark American traditions that brings extended families and friends together to celebrate the year, but with the recent surge of infection rates nationwide, there are many challenges to celebrating holidays this year.
There is no doubt that most people are aware of the potential dangers of travelling during the pandemic, but after being isolated within their immediate household for months, most Americans have become weary and cooped up, itching to see their extended families or plan an end-of-year vacation. It’s definitely a tough call for many as the winter holidays might be the strongest temptation yet whether they should make holiday travel plans.
The discounted airfares and accommodations can also make it difficult to resist the urges to book that next trip that many Americans have postponed for months. So is it worth travelling and what should you consider if you must travel? As one may expect, there is no one-size fits all answer.
Joe Pinsker from The Atlantic points out in his article, Is There a Safe Way to be Home for the Holidays? that, “In a typical year, about 50 million Americans travel at least 50 miles from home for Thanksgiving… Whether or not those patterns hold for the upcoming holiday season, it seems safe to say that tens of millions of people will be spending extended periods of time indoors with friends and family who live outside their household.” So what are some things you CAN do if you decide to travel to attend a holiday gathering?
Pinsker points to guidelines set by Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, who suggests the following travel precautions you can take so you could reduce the risks of getting or spreading the virus:
Consider visiting at an off-peak time: It is a good idea to travel during a time when there are not many people traveling.This reduces the risk of spreading or contracting the virus.
Plan a smaller gathering than usual: If there are fewer people in a gathering, there will be decreased risk of catching the virus. The length of visit will not affect the probability of catching the virus; the number of people is a more important factor.
Drive if possible: Driving is always safer than flying if travelling a distance that is drivable; however, flying is preferred over driving if the distance is longer (1500+ miles)
Be aware of case counts in the places you are traveling to: If there is a high number of cases in the area you are traveling to, consider rescheduling the trip to a safer time or cancelling the trip.
Get tested before and after the trip: Getting each family member tested will increase safety; if any tests come back positive before the trip, cancel or reschedule the trip. If tests come back positive after the trip, quarantine for 14 days and reconsider any future trips during the pandemic.
Whether you decide to travel or celebrate holidays at home, these guidelines should be kept in mind for everyone’s safety as shared by another student at HW. “For the Thanksgiving break, my family and I are staying home for the first half of the week, but then going on a quick getaway to San Diego, CA which is definitely driving distance.” said Aaron Milburn ’24.
Nothing beats the joy and excitement of seeing your loved ones during the holidays or relaxing by your favorite scenic beach spot; nevertheless, a family member getting sick would take the fun out of the holiday season altogether. Just like so many things that have become the new norm in our lives, ‘Safe travels’ has taken a whole new meaning this year.