Should I cancel my vacation as the Delta variant spreads?

August 11, 2021, 4:59 PM UTC

The skyrocketing number of COVID-19 cases across the country has a lot of people rethinking those travel plans they made for the fall. And the mixed messages coming from state and local officials are only making things more confusing.

That’s leaving a lot of would-be travelers at a crossroads. Should they move ahead with their plans or stay put? The decision, of course, is a personal one depending on a number of factors.

Travel volumes around Labor Day are expected to remain high, according to AAA. So if you do opt to wrap up the summer with one last trip, you’re going to face crowds. So far this year the most traveled-to destinations for American travelers, per AAA, have been Mexico, Hawaii, and popular U.S. cities. Cruises to Alaska, Greece, and the Caribbean have experienced high demand, as well.

It is possible to protect yourself from the Delta variant of COVID-19 as you travel, but you’ll have to keep up to date with alerts and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and track the spread of the variant around your destination.

Is it safe to travel these days?

The CDC has not warned against domestic travel for individuals who have completed their COVID-19 vaccinations, saying travel throughout the U.S. is low-risk for fully vaccinated individuals, although it does recommend wearing a mask indoors and in areas where there are substantial or high transmission rates.

People who haven’t been vaccinated are at a significantly higher risk for infection. The CDC suggests getting a viral test one to three days before your trip, wearing a mask at all times, avoiding crowds, and getting tested three to five days after you return.

Should I get travel insurance?

Travel insurance could potentially cover the expenses you would incur if you need to cancel or postpone your trip for COVID-related reasons. It all depends on the policy, though. Travel insurance policies, historically, haven’t covered pandemics, but that’s changing with some plans. AAA suggests consulting a travel agent to find the best one for you.

What should I pack to protect myself on the road?

You’ll definitely want to have several masks with you, regardless of vaccination status. If you’re going to be flying, taking a train, or riding a bus, they’re mandatory. And your travel kit might include a few other new items for this trip, too.

“Also bring along disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and a thermometer to help protect and monitor your health,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president at AAA Travel. “For road trips, also consider packing water and extra snacks to reduce the need to stop along your trip.”

Is it safe to travel with my children?

If you’re traveling with children age 12 or under, that could put them at risk. The CDC recommends following the guidance for unvaccinated people and limiting exposure to others by avoiding crowds and close contact with other unvaccinated people.

Should I get on a cruise ship?

The close quarters of cruise ships make them a high risk for transmission of the virus. The CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises.

You can find out about potential COVID spread on the specific cruise you plan to take on the CDC’s website.

Do I have to quarantine after travel?

No, but the CDC recommends that unvaccinated travelers self-quarantine after travel for seven days with a negative test and for 10 days if they don’t get tested.

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