As we enter our third pandemic summer, many of us have hopes to travel and experience new places. But with the Centers for Disease Control still reporting a daily average of more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases, many people are wondering whether their summer travel plans are a safe idea.

“Any amount of travel during a pandemic comes with a certain level of risk, especially as new variants continue to emerge,” says Jerry Zuckerman, M.D., vice president of infection prevention and control at Hackensack Meridian Health. “But if you plan well, remain up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccines and take appropriate precautions, you can enjoy that summer trip and reduce your risk of getting infected with COVID-19.”

Do your homework

The situation with COVID is constantly changing, so you need to do your research and stay up to date with your destination’s COVID outlook and current travel requirements.

  • Transportation: If you are taking transportation other than a personal car, keep tabs on public transportation safety measures. While mask mandates may have lifted in many places, mass transit still requires a face covering (as of April 2022).
  • Lodging: Book lodging leveraging best practices such as enhanced cleaning procedures and contactless payment. Look for places that have taken measures to improve indoor air ventilation, including improved central air filtration, increased introduction of outdoor air and use of portable HEPA fan/filtration systems for air cleaning.
  • Activities: “Consider choosing outdoor activities with minimal crowds instead of crowded indoor places, particularly if you are traveling with a child too young to be vaccinated or someone who is at higher risk,” says Dr. Zuckerman.
  • International Travel Advisories: If you are traveling internationally, keep an eye on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel recommendations for which countries to avoid. Stay up to date on entry and exit requirements to your destination country as well as the U.S. COVID vaccination and testing requirements vary by country, so check before you go.

Before you go

  • Pack smartly: Don’t forget to pack properly fitting masks, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol and alcohol wipes.
  • Check your vaccinations: Double check that you and all your loved ones are current with all of their vaccines—not just COVID-19. Don’t forget to bring proof of your COVID vaccination status if it is required for your travel destination.
  • Stay flexible: Be prepared to cancel plans if you’re sick or have been exposed. It can be hard to abandon a well-planned, fun trip, but if you’re sick, you need to stay home. If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, delay until you receive your test results.

“While we want to get on with our lives, COVID-19 is still a threat,” says Dr. Zuckerman. “We need to continue to be cautious and alert, but travel this summer is possible. It just might take some extra planning, precaution and creativity.”

Need help finding a doctor?

Hackensack Meridian Health's network includes more than 1,000 physicians and advanced providers at over 300 locations caring for residents throughout New Jersey. To make an appointment with a doctor near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit their website today.

More resources from Hackensack Meridian Health:

This material is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.