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Holiday Travel Precautions

  • Category: Blog
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Daniel Gluckstein, MD, Medical Director of Infectious Disease
Holiday Travel Precautions

With COVID-19 cases surging in our neighborhoods and across the nation, driven mainly by household gatherings, the best travel guidance we can share with you is to NOT travel. We urge you to spend the upcoming holiday season safe at home with members of your immediate household only. Staying home reduces your risk of contracting and spreading viruses like COVID-19 and influenza. This is particularly important now, with the strong likelihood of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine availability in the coming months.

If you must venture across the county, state or nation, be aware of varying travel restrictions in other regions. California, and many other West coast states, recently implemented an advisory for people to self-quarantine for at least 14 days after arriving from another state or country.

As for the mode of transportation, the safest ways to travel are those in which you interact with the fewest amount of people outside of your household. Let’s take a look at a few different types of transportation and what considerations you should be aware of.


Travelling by car is the safest known option, as long as you are only with people who live in your household.

  • Take care to sanitize your hands and wear a mask if you stop to fill up gas, grab a snack for the road or use the restroom.
  • Avoid using a taxi or ridesharing company, such as Uber or Lyft, or riding in a vehicle with people you do not live with.
  • If you must travel with people who don’t live in your household – or you must use a ridesharing service, be sure that everyone is wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
  • If the weather permits, roll the windows down for the duration of the car ride.
  • Sanitize your hands before and after entering and exiting the vehicle and avoid touching your face.


While cars are the best option, trains and railways can offer a potentially safer mode of travel than crowded airports.

  • Ensure that the train company has enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes in place.
  • Book a private room or compartment, if possible.
  • Maintain a safe distance of at least six feet from others - find an empty row or sit at least one seat away from others if the train is crowded.
  • Wear a multilayered cloth face covering or mask at all times.
  • Bring sanitizing wipes to disinfect armrests, windows and high-touch surfaces.
  • Do not use the restroom in the train unless absolutely necessary. If you do, wash your hands thoroughly after.


Flying is considered a higher risk activity than other forms of travel. While most airplanes have a high-efficiency air filtration system, there are still risks associated with being in an airplane. However, if you must travel by airplane over the holidays, consider these when choosing your flight:

  • Fly at a non-peak time to avoid crowded flights.
  • While at the airport, practice social distancing at the check-in and security lines and sit away from others at the gate.
  • Select a direct flight, if possible. Spending time in an airport during a layover increases your risk of interacting with people who may be infected.
  • Long flights may also pose an increased risk, as there are more opportunities for guests to take off their mask to eat and drink.
  • Verify that the airline has enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes in place.
  • Find out if your flight offers restricted seat and row assignments for social distancing. Most airplane infections seem to have spread within just a few rows of an infected person.
  • Make sure the airline is enforcing mandatory masking for passengers when not eating or drinking. Remember, a multilayered cloth face covering or surgical mask offers the most protection.
  • Do not use an in-flight restroom unless absolutely necessary. If you do, wash your hands thoroughly after.
  • Bring sanitizing wipes to disinfect armrests, seat belt, tray table, windows and other high-touch surfaces.