ATLANTA - After a year of staying close to home, many Americans are eager to get away for spring break.
Epidemiologist Dr. Amber Schmidtke, who is planning a camping trip for her family, says she gets why people are itching to travel again.
"I think we all need to get out of the house," Schmidtke says. "I completely understand."
While there is no such thing as a risk-free travel right now, Schmidtke says, there are ways to lower your family's risk of being exposed to the coronavirus on your trip.
The CDC recommends staying away from crowds and indoor public spaces where it is difficult to stay 6 feet away from others.
"What I would advise is that you consider something outdoor intensive, whether that's camping or going to the beach, those sorts of things," Schmidtke says. "If you can, try to limit how much indoor, unmasked time you're spending with people you don't live with. So, that would include bars and restaurants. Really support those businesses through takeout options or outdoor dining as much as you can."
Driving to your destination is your least risky option, Schmidtke says.
Pack your own food and drinks, so that you can limit the number of stops you have to make along the way.
Flying, or traveling by bus or train is higher-risk, she says.
"So, if you're taking that route, make sure you're masked the whole time," Schmidtke says. "Be very careful about when you take that mask off to eat or drink, that sort of thing, and really try to limit that as much as you can."
The CDC is advising Americans to avoid non-essential travel right now.
If you do decide to fly within the US, the agency recommends getting tested for COVID-19 a few days before your trip and a few days after you return.
If you're heading out of the US, check to see if your destination country has travel restrictions.
Also, remember you'll need proof of negative COVID-19 in order to fly back into the US.
You will have to get tested within 72 hours of your return flight.
"When you get home, understand that you may have been exposed during your travels," Schmidtke says. "So, it's a good idea, if you can, to sort of lie low, be on the lookout for symptoms, and seek a test if you're suspicious."
With new, more transmissible strains of the virus emerging, Schmidtke recommends doubling down on your safety precautions.
Make sure you have a well-fitting mask.
The CDC recommends wearing a cloth mask with at least two layers or a cloth mask on top of a medical mask.
Avoid crowds and indoor spaces, where the virus can move more easily from one person to another.
Keep 6 feet apart from other people in public.
Wash or sanitize your hands often.
"We want to have a good time, but sometimes a good time leads to surges," Schmidtke cautions. " We saw that last year with Memorial Day. So, we want to be really careful with spring break, and make sure we're having fun, but we're doing so safely."
Whether you are staying at a hotel or renting a place, see if you can check-in and check out online, and limit the amount of time you spend indoors around other travelers.
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