If you're traveling for Christmas, you need to assess your level of risk.
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There's Still A Pandemic, But Here's How To Travel Safely For Christmas

It’s all about assessing your risks.

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After nearly two years of life in a world with Covid, it feels like travel is something we used to get to do, but is oh so complicated now. So, as the holidays draw nearer and loved ones invite us back home, is it safe to travel for Christmas this year? Safe Christmas travel during Covid isn’t impossible, but it will take some planning.

How Might New Variants Like Omicron Impact Holiday Travel?

Infection rates in the U.S. and abroad are climbing yet again. And it’s obvious the recent rise in cases has been causing renewed restrictions: Once again, some theater shows are going on pause, holiday parties are being rethought, and virtual gatherings are back on the table.

In late November, Omicron was declared a Variant of Concern by the World Health Organization. And the Delta variant is still the most circulated in America, as per The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the CDC reported Omicron will likely spread “more easily” than the original variant, vaccinations and boosters can still safeguard against serious sickness that could lead to a hospital stay.

For those looking to travel in the coming weeks, at-home antigen and Covid-19 test kits (available at sites like may offer some reassurance. The CDC reported such “self-tests” can help lessen risks, as can things like getting a booster shot and keeping up with frequent hand-washing. But there are still many precautions that should be taken before considering holiday travel.

Should You Travel For The Holidays This Season?

Just as you’ve done throughout the pandemic, experts say you should assess yours and your family members’ personal risks for contracting and becoming seriously ill from Covid.

“Ultimately the answer to whether it is safe to travel this year comes down to your level of risk tolerance,” Vivek Cherian, M.D., an internal medicine physician at Amita Health, tells Romper. “If you’re unvaccinated or immunocompromised, it’s safest to stay home this year. It’s important to ask yourself whether you are vaccinated first off, and next whether your destination is safe.”

Of course, some families may have to travel this year, and others may decide the risk of transmission is small enough that it’s worth it to see loved ones they’ve missed over the last couple of years.

“I know it can be challenging, but this year, if you absolutely don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t at this point. That being said, if you must, there are ways to do it that prioritize your safety,” Cherian said. “First and foremost, get vaccinated, and if you’re eligible, get a booster. Beyond this, ensure you are wearing face masks when in public, avoid large congregate settings indoors, and stick with the tried-and-true methods of social distancing when possible, and hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.”

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What’s The Safest Way To Travel During Covid?

Obviously, step one of travel is getting there, and your method of travel can impact whether or not you’re exposed to Covid en route.

“If you’re flying, while in the airport, do your best to stay as far away from the main gathering areas as possible. When you are actually on the plane and the doors are closed, the planes are actually well ventilated with extremely effective HEPA filters,” Cherian said of air travel. “A road trip will always be the safest route to travel because you can control most variables, like who is around you in the car, who you are being exposed to, etc.”

Safe Holiday Destinations During Covid

When it comes to your destination, Cherian points out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly update their database about current community transmission rates of Covid. You can search by state, down to the county level, and check international destinations, too. It’s definitely worth checking out the area you’re thinking of visiting to see how common positive cases are right now.

Also, who will you be traveling to see? “If you are visiting family, are they at high risk or immunocompromised?” says Cherian. That can affect your plans, too. Above all, assess everyone’s risk factors and make a decision that is the safest for your whole family.


Vivek Cherian, M.D., an internal medicine physician at Amita Health, an affiliate of Ascension

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