AAA Travel Tips / Should You Travel in the Time of Coronavirus?

Should You Travel in the Time of Coronavirus?
By AAA Travel Editors
August 06, 2020
With a number of states and local governments limiting travel due to the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19), potential travelers are wondering about travel and its return. There are a lot of unknowns, and while travel often is a personal decision, everyone should heed official ordinances, especially those with state or local stay-at-home orders. In the meantime, AAA will continue sharing trusted advice and tips to help consumers in these uncertain times.
“Research is important to any traveler ahead of a trip. It’s no different with the coronavirus,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a AAA news release. “Become familiar with the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations, consult your healthcare professional, talk to your travel provider about waiver policies and chat with a travel agent about travel insurance possibilities before making any decision.”

Follow Expert Advice

First and foremost, a travel agent can guide you through policies surrounding COVID-19 and help you navigate cancellations as well as future opportunities for travel. Certain airlines, cruise lines and other travel companies are booking for later dates, with flexible policies; consult an agent for bookings and options.
As for travel outside the United States, follow the latest recommendations from the U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of Aug. 6, 2020, the Level 4 Travel Health Advisory was lifted. Previously, international travel was not advised, suggesting U.S. citizens abroad should return or prepare to stay in place for an indefinite period of time. The new statement advises that "with health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice." (Note: The CDC still advises against nonessential travel to more than 200 places.)
The State Department offers tools for staying connected. These include maps, social media resources and information on registering for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), where you can share details of your trip and receive the latest alerts.

If You Have Essential Travel

After researching your trip and local regulations, remember to bring along any important documents, such as health insurance cards and travel permits that may be necessary to cross state lines.
Here are some additional travel tips to maximize convenience and safety:
• Let AAA help you pick the cleanest place to stay. If you're traveling within the United States, consider choosing a hotel that has earned a AAA's Inspector's Best Of Housekeeping award. While all AAA Diamond-designated properties must pass a comprehensive inspection, hotels that display the Inspector's Best Of Housekeeping badge have achieved the highest possible scores for cleanliness. (Hotels in Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean also earn these badges, but borders have closed for most travel purposes; consult official sources and your local travel agent for more information.)
• Pack hand sanitizer and wipes that contain at least 60 to 95 percent alcohol as well as any additional medication in the event of trip delays or quarantines.
• If you are currently abroad, know the location and contact information for your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you’ve enrolled in STEP, you will receive alerts or notifications if conditions change.

Is Coronavirus Covered by Travel Insurance?

Coverage varies greatly. Many travel insurance providers consider COVID-19 a “known event” as of January 22, and an epidemic February 3. For those who purchased plans before those dates, policies might contain a level of protection, especially “cancel anytime” or “cancel for any reason” ones.
Check with your travel agent or providers, such as cruise lines, airlines, hotels or other operators, on your options or to find out if they offer any waivers.

Travel Safely (If You Must)—And Wash Hands!

Washing your hands remains the most effective way to avoid illness. Regarding handwashing, the CDC recommends wetting, lathering with soap and scrubbing hands for 20 seconds—the length of “Happy Birthday” song twice. Use hand sanitizer if handwashing is not available, although handwashing is advised if hands are dirty.
Keep social distancing—a practice recommended by top epidemiologists. This means stay away from crowds, keep 6 feet away from others, and avoid those who are sick.
Disinfect frequently touched items and surfaces with wipes or a household cleaning product. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of EPA-registered products online.
Practice good hygiene by covering coughs or sneezes with a tissue and then disposing of used tissues immediately in the trash.
Ultimately, stay at home if you are sick. Even though an illness may register as mild in one person, it could cause serious complications in another, especially someone with underlying health conditions.