It’s one of the biggest questions on people’s minds right now, especially with the summer season just around the corner—is it safe to travel? Despite what I want the answer to be, the truth of the matter is we can’t really be sure.
In the United States, most places started going into some form of lockdown around mid- to late-March. This means we’ve been practicing forms of social distancing for going on two months now. Some states have started opening up within the last month, including Oklahoma—opening up, of course, being a bit of a relative term, as some states didn’t even go into a full lockdown. Other states, such as New York, are just now looking at the best strategies for implementing a re-opening plan. The best place for all of this information is the official website for whatever state you’re looking at maybe traveling to.
Now what about international travel? There are some countries, say in Europe for example, that are putting plans in place to welcome tourists in the late summer or early fall months. For other countries, such as New Zealand, there’s still not a lot of information as to when non-essential travelers will be allowed through the border. As of right now, many countries do still have their borders closed on non-essential international travel. Whether or not that will change within the next month is still to be determined.
So what does that mean for these summer months ahead? Will we be able to venture out of our home cities or even home states to revel in the mountains, oceans, and wonder of summer travel? Well, we don’t know yet. The consensus for most is that summer travel isn’t quite going to look like what it did in years past. Much of the travel that’ll be readily available is going to be in the form of short-distance road trips, gradually increasing as the situation betters.
I love to travel as much as the next person—maybe even more. But I do recognize that I have a social responsibility to help keep our world safe. And personally, I don’t think traveling is the safest thing we could be doing right now.
But the biggest thing I do want to stress for those of you who are looking for the best way to balance travel and safety is to maintain a continued level of caution and a responsible level of comfort. Even if you only start to venture out within your hometown or state, make sure to exercise caution wherever you go. This virus is still far from being beaten and the last thing I’m sure anyone wants is a spike in infection rates. So be kind and courteous to everyone you meet along the way. Also, make sure you’re comfortable. Don’t use the re-opening of your community as an excuse or a requirement to leave your house if you’re simply not ready—or if the people you come into contact with daily are simply not ready. All in all, we need to remember that recovery is the goal and that we still have small steps to take to get there.
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Are you anxiously making travel plans yet? Let me know if you’ve ventured out of your homes yet and how far you’ve gone. And if you haven’t made any trips quite yet, leave a comment on where you’d like to go first once it’s safer wherever you are.
A lot of the background information for this article came from AFAR and Travel + Leisure.
NOTE: This post was originally intended for publication on Sunday, 31 May.