The U.S. Travel Association Updates COVID-19 Guidance so Americans Who Are Traveling Can Be Extra Safe

woman picking up a suitcase at an airport baggage claim

As some Americans head out for the holidays this year, the U.S. Travel Association has updated its guidance pertaining to COVID-19.

Their recommendations for travelers, released Thursday, include checking destination travel restrictions before leaving, ensuring they haven’t been exposed to the coronavirus, and — of course — wearing a mask.

The new list of best practices comes as experts — from Dr. Anthony Fauci to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to mayors and governors — have recommended against going on a trip or getting together with large groups indoors for the holiday season.

However, a lot of Americans are still hitting the road.

“The data is clear that there is definitely in the U.S. a lot of pent up demand for travel… [Americans] are tired of being at home, they don’t want to give up taking trips, and they also want to see their friends and families,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow told reporters this week. “Unfortunately, I think this pandemic fatigue might be one of the reasons we are seeing some of these spikes. It’s extremely important that we don’t get complacent about health and safety practices — if we do, this pandemic is going to be around longer than any of us want.”

Beyond mask wearing, hand washing, and practicing social distancing, the travel association recommended people do not travel if they have been around someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days and get a flu vaccine first.

The association recommended travel businesses focus on the fact that COVID-19 transmission is primarily airborne, and drill down on ways to mitigate that, including installing physical barriers to separate customers and employees.

Thanksgiving travel will undoubtedly look very different this year: Americans plan to spread their trips over more days and stay longer when they get there, face masks will be an integral part of getting off the ground, and about 80% of holiday travel will be in cars.

But while some people may stay home, and possibly enjoy the fact that Zoom is lifting time limits for Turkey Day to make virtually connecting with family easier, Dow said it was important to update the association’s initial guidance for those who do venture out.

“I think we can travel safely, but it’s a matter of we must do it smartly,” Dow said.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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