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Domestic Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic (2/2)

Keep reading to update more information if you want to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anticipate Your Travel Needs

For 14 days before your journey, take everyday precautions like wearing masks, social distancing, and washing your hands. Get away from the following activities that can put you at higher risk for COVID-19:

  • Joining a social gathering like a wedding, funeral, or party.
  • Taking part in a crowded gathering like a sporting event, concert, or parade.
  • Attending in crowds like in restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters.
  • Going on trains, buses, airports, or using public transportation.
  • Traveling on a cruise ship or riverboat.
  • Bring a mask to wear in public places and on public transportation.
  • Pack hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Keep this within reach.
  • Bring enough of your medicine for the entire trip.
  • Bring with you enough food and water in case restaurants and stores are closed, or if drive-through, take-out, and outdoor-dining options aren’t available.
  • If you are thinking about cleaning your travel lodgings, see CDC’s guidance on how to clean and disinfect.
  • Consider getting tested with a viral test 1-3 days before your journey. Keep a copy of your test results with you during your journey; they may ask you for them.

Check Travel Restrictions

State, local, and territorial governments may have travel restrictions in place, including testing, stay-at-home requirements, and quarantine requirements upon arrival. For up-to-date information and travel guidance, check out the state and local health department where you stay, along your route, and where you are going. Prepare to be flexible during your trip as restrictions and policies may change during your journey. Follow all state, local, and territorial travel restrictions.

If traveling by air, check if your airline asks for any health information, testing, or other documents. Local policies at your destination may ask you to be tested for COVID-19. If you test and get a positive result while traveling, you may be required to isolate for a period of time.

After You Travel

You may have been exposed to COVID-19 during your journey. Or you may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can still spread the virus to others. You and your travel companions (including children) may get a risk to your family, friends, and community after your travel.

  • Consider getting tested with a viral test 3–5 days after your travel and reduce non-essential activities for a full 7 days after your trip, even if your test is negative. If you don’t do the test, consider reducing non-essential activities for 10 days.
  • In case your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.

Also, take these actions for 14 days after you come back from travel to protect others from getting COVID-19:

  • Stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who did not go with you on your travel, particularly in crowded areas. It’s necessary to do this everywhere — both indoors and outdoors.
  • Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth when you are in public spaces outside of your home, including when using public transportation.
  • If there are people in the household who did not travel with you, wear a mask and ask everyone in the household to wear masks in shared spaces inside your home.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Try to stay away from people who are at increased risk for severe illness.
  • Watch your health: Look for symptoms of COVID-19, and take your temperature in case you feel not well.

Considerations for Types of Travel

Travel increases your chances of spreading and getting COVID-19. Some travel activities, like the transportation you choose and where you stay, can increase your risk of getting COVID-19. Know your travel risk. Your chances of getting COVID-19 while traveling also depends on whether you and those around you take steps to protect yourselves and others, such as wearing masks and stay 6 feet away from people outside your group when you travel (social distancing). Airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can get viruses in the air and on surfaces. These are also some places where it can be difficult to social distance. In general, the longer you approach a person with COVID-19, the more likely you are to get infected.

Air travel

Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close approach with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air is circulated and filtered on airplanes. However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and staying within 6 feet away from others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19. How you get to and from the airport, such as with public transportation and ridesharing, can also increase your chances of getting viruses.

Bus or train travel

Traveling on buses and trains for any length of time can involve being in crowded terminals and sitting or standing within 6 feet of others, which may put you at high risk of getting COVID-19. If you choose to travel by public transportation like bus or train, find out what you can do to protect yourself on public transportation.

Car travel

Making stops along the way for the gas, food, or bathroom breaks can put you and your traveling companions in close approach with other people and frequently touched surfaces.

RV travel

You may need to stop less often for food or bathroom breaks, but RV travel usually means staying at RV parks overnight and getting gas and supplies at other public places. These stops may put you and your companions in the RV in close contact with others.

Considerations for Staying with Family or Friends

travel covid-19 pandemic

If you, someone you live with, or anyone you plan to visit is at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, consider staying in a separate accommodation like a hotel, guest house, or short-stay rental.

Tips for staying overnight or hosting overnight guests

  • Prepare. Know what you will do if you or someone else becomes sick during the visit. What are your plans for isolation, medical care, basic care, and travel home when it is safe to do so?
  • Wear masks while in shared spaces inside the house. You may remove masks for eating, drinking, and sleeping, but individuals from different households should stay at least 6 feet away from each other at all times.
  • Wash hands carefully with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially upon arrival.
  • Visitors should launder clothing and masks and stow luggage away from common areas upon arrival.
  • Improve ventilation by opening windows and doors or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
  • Spend time together outdoors. Take a walk or sit outdoors at least 6 feet apart for interpersonal interactions.
  • Avoid singing or shouting, especially indoors.
  • Treat pets as you would other human family members – do not let pets interact with people outside the household.
  • Monitor hosts and guests for symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

Tips to avoid getting and spreading COVID-19 in common travel situations:

In public:

Bathrooms and restrooms:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after using the bathroom and after you have been in a public place.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Getting gas:

  • Use disinfecting wipes on handles and buttons at the gas pumps before you touch them (if available).
  • After fueling, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. When you get to your destination, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Hotels and accommodations:

Food stops: