Senior Safety

7/7/2021 | By Kari Smith

After an initial pandemic year, the world is learning how to continue our beloved pastimes. Last summer, as folks begrudgingly traded their summer vacation plans for time at home, the tourism industry took a painful hit. This year, as COVID-19 cases waned, many folks made up for lost time with pandemic travel.

Travelers remain wisely cautious about trip plans, since in this unprecedented time of pandemic, it is hard to know what is safe. If you have decided to take the plunge and book a trip, do your research first.

How can you keep yourself safe through pandemic travel?

  • Consider driving to your destination if possible, since flying could expose you to hundreds, if not thousands more people in the course of a day in airports and on planes.
  • Observe social distancing. This may mean skipping crowd-based activities or eating meals in, rather than in a restaurant. Or, request an outside table if possible when dining out.
  • Wear a facemask when in crowded places. Even if not required, it could protect you from a variety of illnesses. Also, remember that even vaccinated individuals do not have 100% protection from the virus – they may still catch or transmit the disease.
  • Practice good hygiene – wash your hands regularly when in public areas, or use hand sanitizer if handwashing is not possible.
  • Although experts say that wiping down everything is not necessary, due to the unlikelihood of COVID-19 being spread from surfaces, it may be helpful to wipe down high-touch areas (such as TV-remotes) to prevent the spread of other contagious illnesses.
  • If you plan to be vaccinated before traveling, be sure to do so with enough time to receive both doses of your shot (if necessary), and allow for extra time to ensure that any possible reaction to the vaccine will not affect or delay your travel.
  • Find road trip safety tips here!

Choose your destination wisely

Location could make a difference for your post-pandemic travel plans, since there are areas that still have higher COVID-19 case rates. Do your research before making plans – not only to see which areas have higher infection rates, but also to see which countries are open or restricted to tourists, as well as current quarantine, testing, and masking rules for that locale. For this reason, it may be wise to use a travel agency if you are planning a complex or international trip, as these agents will be well versed in discovering your destination’s policies.

Related: A romantic COVID getaway & a natural escape

Consider a travel insurance policy

More than before, we cannot predict what may happen to deter our travel plans, especially as post-pandemic travel trends continue. Consider purchasing an airtight travel insurance policy for your travel expenditures, in case someone in your group gets sick, or if there are cancellations or changes in availability at your destination due to local and federal government mandates. Be sure that policy is purchased through a well-known company that has 24/7 access to customer service.

Monitor your health before and after traveling

Monitor yourself and your family in the weeks leading up to your vacation, and upon returning home. Be sure to isolate or quarantine if you have any symptoms of illness. Before leaving and upon return, consider being tested to be sure that you have not been exposed to COVID-19. Keep in mind that you may be asymptomatic, so do not rely on a show of symptoms to determine whether you have been infected.

Be patient!

Keep in mind that while much of the world has jumped back into travel, there are still widespread staffing issues as venues reopen, resume full capacity operation, and employees return to work from unemployment. These shortages may be likely to cause delays, especially in restaurants.

Save yourself the frustration and potential crowd exposure by ordering food for pick-up, or preparing meals yourself when possible. It’s very likely that no matter the level of frustration, our gratefulness for being able to travel this year – after a year of staying in – will make any headache worth it!

Kari Smith

Kari Smith is a frequent contributor to Seniors Guide, helping to keep those in the senior industry informed and up-to-date. She's a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a songwriter recording her own music. In addition to teaching music and performing in the Richmond area, Kari also enjoys riding horses and farming.

Kari Smith