The coronavirus pandemic has uprooted the international travel industry, as people are encouraged to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Despite many cities in the U.S. slowly reopening, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still advises that people avoid nonessential travel.
However, if you find yourself in an emergency situation or have a dire need to travel, take precautions to protect yourself and others. Also, please do not travel if you are sick.
Below are some options to consider as you figure out how to make safe travel plans.
Before you go, make sure you check travel restrictions, as some states are requiring mandatory quarantine periods for travelers, and some countries have banned visitors from the U.S. outright.
Car and RV
Health officials have repeatedly stated that the most effective way to limit the spread of coronavirus is to stay distant from others. So, hitting the road is generally the safest way to travel, as you can limit who’s in the car with you, versus other travel methods that pack you in with people you don’t know.
That being said, consider the route you’re taking, and limit how many rest stops you take. According to the CDC, “Making stops along the way for gas, food, or bathroom breaks can put you and your traveling companions in close contact with other people and surfaces.”
Renting an RV may seem like your best bet to minimize bathroom breaks on the road, but still consider how many times you’ll have to stop for gas and food, and come into contact with others.
Whenever possible, pack food and snacks for your trip to minimize having to stop for meals.
According to the CDC, “Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.” However, waiting in line for security, sitting in airport terminals and spending hours in an enclosed airplane make it difficult to maintain distance from others, which increases the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
Currently JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines say they will continue to block middle or adjacent seats on commercial flights, which may help you maintain a little more distance from other passengers.
While flying private is not an option for most people, consider options that can minimize contact with others. JSX, a “semi-private” flying experience that flies to Las Vegas out of Boeing Field, does not require the typical Transportation Security Administration security screening process, meaning you can avoid waiting in long lines and crowded terminals at the airport.
Bus and train
While traveling by bus or train, you don’t run into the social distancing issues of having to wait in an airport security line, and you don’t have to stuff yourself in an airport terminal for a prolonged period of time — but during the trip, it is difficult to maintain social distance from other passengers.
Depending on the length of your trip, some Amtrak trains, including the Coast Starlight that runs from Seattle to Los Angeles, have sleeping cars that offer private rooms, which can help you avoid being close to others. However, anticipate it costing at least three times more than a regular coach seat.
Washington State Ferries continues to operate on a reduced schedule, and Washington State Department of Transportation reminds on its website that “travel is limited to ‘essential’ purposes.” Again, wear a mask and consider how you can best keep your distance from other passengers, whether that means spending more time on the top, open-air deck if possible, or finding seats farther away from others. If you board the ferry via your car, WSDOT recommends you stay in your car during the duration of the trip.
Keep your distance
Long story short, no matter what method of transportation you use, take all the precautions you can to minimize contact with others. And if you are around others, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently.