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Traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic

Take a break and stay safe

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of our plans. From childcare options and working from home, to big milestones like weddings and possibly your summer vacation, your plans may look a little different than they did at the start of 2020. But, even if you aren’t jetting to the hippest vacation hot-spot this summer, it’s important to remember that time away from the everyday routine is important for your health. Just keep some things in mind to stay safe.

Take a vacation to improve your health

According to a 2018 study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health External Site, taking a short, four-day vacation can help improve stress levels. And, other studies suggest External Site a link between vacation and improved productivity and mental and physical health. Plus, some time away — whether or not you're physically working in an office — can help prevent signs of burnout.

"In a recent pulse survey on our Wellness Center powered by WebMD® on myWellmark® Opens New Window, members indicated their social and emotional/mental well-being were the most negatively impacted by COVID-19. Knowing this, it is important now more than ever to schedule time to focus on yourself and to recharge your well-being battery," says Amanda Dorr, employer health and well-being consultant at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

While there's no disputing that a vacation can recharge you and your family, if you're looking to make plans during the pandemic, it's important to consider a few things before packing your bags.

Questions to consider when planning a trip during the coronavirus

If you're feeling the effects of "quarantine fatigue" External Site and are ready to experience a vacation, despite COVID-19, ask these questions before making plans.

What type of transportation is needed to get to my vacation spot?

No matter if you choose to fly or drive to your destination, it's important to remember to social distance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social distancing is one of the best things you can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

travel by car

It's more difficult to social distance when traveling by air, train or bus, so choosing a trip within driving distance that allows you to limit the amount of stops at gas stations and rest areas is ideal. However, if you must be in close contact with other travelers, keep your distance as much as possible, wear a face covering and wash your hands frequently.

Is my planned destination open for business and are there any restrictions?

Even if a state is completely open, some businesses, like theme parks, water parks and museums, may still be closed or have limited hours. These places may also have special rules (like a mask requirement), so check before heading out.

Depending on the presence of COVID-19 in a specific area, states may update their travel restrictions. Be sure to check your destination's state or local health department External Site before leaving, as well as during your trip, to stay up-to-date.

What are my overnight arrangements?

If you're planning to stay in a hotel, you may want to make sure staff is using thorough cleaning and disinfecting policies. Also, if you have the option for using a contactless check-in or mobile room key, do it. Anytime you can limit contact with people outside your family is a plus! This means avoiding visits to public areas, like dining rooms/kitchens, game rooms and, unfortunately, the pool.

Who's going with me on my trip?

Depending on who is planning to go with you on your trip can help determine the risk of traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, people over the age of 65 or those with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for experiencing the severe effects of COVID-19. Therefore, those people may want to consider if the pros outweigh the cons of traveling, or plan something that limits the amount of time spent outside their home.

pack hand sanitizer when traveling during COVID-19

What should I pack to stay as safe as possible?

As with any time you travel, it's important to pack any necessary medications, especially if you're traveling with a chronic condition. You may also want to pack additional snacks and non-perishable food options in case restaurants are closed.

Plus, consider throwing some hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and face covering into your bag for when you're in public places.

4 “vacations” to try during the COVID-19 pandemic

If you can't or don't want to travel, there are alternative options for vacations. Here are just a few ideas to help you feel the effects of taking time away:

  1. Take a day to focus your attention on family time, or to connect with friends or loved ones.
  2. Practice self-care by taking a mental health day. What you choose to do is up to you, just make sure it's something that helps you recharge. To make the most of your day, it might help to disconnect from phone calls or social media.
  3. Spend time outdoors, whether you’re working in your garden, cutting the grass or simply enjoying the sunshine.
  4. Practice one of your hobbies, or learn something completely new! Have you always wanted to start cooking? Have projects you want to tackle? Does the stack of books you want to read keep piling up? Now’s the time!

Don’t rule out a staycation in your hometown

No one ever said a vacation required packed bags and a car ride. Instead, consider a staycation. A staycation is when you take a vacation right in your hometown.

staycation idea grill outside

Staycation ideas External Site are endless. Create a special experience at home, with the help of a little creativity. Explore areas of your city you’ve never been to before. Go camping under the stars in your backyard. Or, create a water park at home with sprinklers, super soakers and water balloons. Remember, it doesn’t have to be extravagant to be fun.