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Holiday travel conjures up mixed emotions, whether you’ve experienced traffic-jammed highways on Christmas Eve, empty airports on Thanksgiving morning, or something in between. While holiday road trips present their unique challenges, travel during COVID-19 only adds another layer of complication this year.

Before we continue, we want to be clear—the absolute safest way to celebrate the holidays this year is to not travel. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), travel dramatically increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. As with most social events in 2020, if it’s possible to stay home—or celebrate with others virtually—you should seriously consider that option.

That said, we know some people will still be hitting the road this year. And because we know that, we want to help those who are traveling to do so as safely as possible in the midst of this pandemic. That’s why we’ve created this COVID-19 travel guide for the holidays. From packing extra masks to following state and local guidelines, here are steps you can take reduce your risk of exposure as much as possible.

Pack your car accordingly.

Your car is your haven during COVID-era travels. Not only should it safely transport you from point A to point B, it serves as your refuge from the outside world, so be sure to plan accordingly. In addition to your favorite road trip snacks, consider packing lunches and other meals you’ll need along the way. If you do need to grab a bite to eat, the safest food options include drive-thru, delivery, take-out, and curbside pick-up, according to the CDC.

If you do need to go into public, be sure to wear a mask and to keep your nose and mouth covered at all times. In addition to any restaurants or other food establishments, this includes any stops at transportation hubs including rest stops and gas stations. Finally, be sure to wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer at all stops (ideally before and after). And on that note, be sure to pack extra masks, sanitizer, and water to keep stops to a minimum. Planning ahead will reduce unnecessary exposure on your trip.

Take your health seriously.

It may be a no-brainer, but public safety should be a concern during your travels. To reiterate, travel significantly increases your chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19. That’s why it’s important to check the spread of the virus in your local area and in the places you plan to travel. Visiting people at increased risk for severe illness can be especially dangerous this holiday season—so it’s important to understand the risks of doing so.

Prior to your departure, it’s also important to double check your own health. Symptoms of the Covid-19 virus range from mild to severe illness—and they may appear between two and fourteen days after exposure. According to the CDC, people exhibiting these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list is non-exhaustive, but if you’re experiencing any of the listed symptoms, it’s important to get tested. It may even be a good idea to get tested without symptoms. With increased access to COVID testing and self-administered test locations, you can easily make sure you’re healthy before hitting the road and interacting with loved ones. Tests are also usually 100% covered by most insurance plans. Check your local area for testing facilities at hospitals, doctors offices, or clinics like Walgreens and CVS.

Finally, in addition to the safety tips outlined here, here are additional safety guidelines provided by the CDC you should check out:

  • Stay at least six feet away from anyone not from your household.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Do not travel with someone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Make sure you’re up to date with routine vaccinations, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine.

Ultimately, it’s important to follow state and local recommendations or requirements before, during, and after you return from COVID-19 travel. Together, we can all have an enjoyable, safe holiday season—it may just take some extra planning.

Perform routine maintenance to avoid stops and complications.

While it’s always important to stay up-to-date on your car’s maintenance, now is the perfect time to double-check its condition. If you’re trying to reduce your risk of exposure on the road, the last thing you need is to break down on the side of the road. (If the worst should happen, however, adding roadside assistance to your auto insurance policy can help promote peace-of-mind travel.) Make sure your car is in good shape to avoid any unnecessary interactions with helpful strangers or mechanics.

Plus, COVID-19 travel aside, winter is coming! Cold weather can worsen any existing issues your vehicle may be experiencing, so consider your reasons for a tune-up doubled! And to minimize contact, we recommend scheduling an appointment with YourMechanic. YourMechanic will come to where you are—that means no auto shops, no need to interact with multiple people, and getting the information you need from the comfort of your own home. A few things you can do on your own include topping off your fluids, checking the condition of your windshield wipers, and testing your tire pressure.

To ensure you are fully protected on the road this holiday season, consider getting a quote from us. And for our current Elephant customers, visit your online account to check if you have roadside assistance added to your policy.

Article last updated on May 31st, 2023 at 4:51 pm

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