What experts say about making ‘revenge travel’ plans for COVID

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  • With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the term “revenge travel” has emerged to describe the way people feel about planning trips once again after so much has been lost during the pandemic.
  • If you feel more comfortable about traveling now than you did a year or two ago, know that taking a trip isn’t entirely without COVID risks.
  • Experts say getting vaccinated and packing a few essentials can help reduce the risk of contracting COVID while traveling.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put travel plans on hold. Many destinations have quarantine and vaccination restrictions in place, making it difficult for travelers (and even residents) to explore.

Now that COVID vaccines are more widely available, mandates for masks and other pandemic measures have been lifted in most regions — including federal transit services. Many people are starting to feel more comfortable leaving the house than they have been in years – they may even feel the urge to do so.

“Vengeance trip” is a buzzword used to describe people making up for lost time during the pandemic by traveling as much as possible now that COVID has turned into “endemic” in some parts of the world.

However, COVID has not gone away. If you’re ready to start traveling again, you’ll want to keep this in mind – not just for your own safety and the safety of others, but to avoid mishaps when planning a trip. Depending on your destination, there will still be certain pandemic-related protocols that you must follow as you travel.

Here’s what the experts want you to know about planning and taking a safe post-COVID journey.

Is it safe to take multiple trips?

Many people feeling the drag of ‘retaliatory travel’ after COVID will not only go to one destination – they are going to multiple destinations.

While travel increases your risk of contracting COVID-19, “You don’t have to travel to get COVID-19,” said Amish A. “It’s ubiquitous and you can pick it up in your bar corner.”

Just as you can take precautions in your daily life at home, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of contracting COVID while traveling, Thomas Russo, professor and chair of the division of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo, told Verywell.

“If you have flexibility, it is best to travel to places where the incidence of disease is low at this time,” Russo said. “Infections are increasing and spreading in different places, and not all locations are equally safe for the risk of contracting COVID.”

Vaccination is also a critical step before a flight. “If you are not up to date on your basic immunization or boosters, you will need to get those shots before you travel,” Russo said.

Amesh A. Adalja, MD

Depending on how much one is trying to avoid COVID, consider using masks and a rapid test wisely.

— Amesh A. Adalja, MD

While vaccines are “imperfect” in protecting you from contracting COVID, Russo said you’ll still be “optimally protected against serious infection and disease” if you’re up to date with the latest picks.

Russo also suggested packing “a number of appropriate, high-quality masks” and even “bring some home tests with you” so you can monitor your own COVID status while you’re travelling.

If I travel to different cities, do I need to quarantine in between?

According to Rousseau, you don’t necessarily need to quarantine between the various stages of your trip, unless mandated by local authorities. However, Russo recommends that you monitor yourself for COVID symptoms while you’re travelling.

Thomas Russo, MD

If you’re not up to date with your basic immunizations or boosters, you’ll need to get those shots before you travel.

– Thomas Russo, MD

“Travel will increase the risk of contracting COVID-19,” Russo said, adding that if you are traveling with a partner or friend, it is important to be OK with COVID safety. “If one of you is really cautious and the other is arrogant, you will get infected if one of you gets sick.”

It’s also important to do your best to avoid high-risk situations, such as enclosed spaces where people are not wearing masks, Russo said. “You will have an increased risk there. The only way to reduce that and continue to eat dinner outside is to eat outdoors.”

If you’re traveling to an area with high levels of COVID cases, Russo recommends wearing a mask. “Going from city to city doesn’t necessarily change the risks, but you want to keep an eye on your symptoms,” he said.

What you need before you go

Each country has different rules about COVID testing and requirements for entering their borders, so you’ll need to do your research before you begin your journey.

“With travel, it is important to be aware of local testing requirements,” Adalja said. “Depending on how much one is trying to avoid COVID, consider using masks and rapid testing wisely.”

Russo added that it’s a good idea to have your vaccination card with you – or at least a laminated copy or even a digital photo of it, because you “want to document your vaccination status” while you’re travelling.

Amesh A. Adalja, MD

US policy is so irrational that if one travels from Toronto to the US, testing is required – but not if one is across the border.

— Amesh A. Adalja, MD

Having said that, you may encounter some confusion. The US currently requires people to get a negative COVID test before entering the country, but Adalja said it “does not make sense given the spread of COVID in the US”

Adalja noted that “US policy is so illogical that if one travels from Toronto to the United States, testing is required – but not if one is across the border.”

Even if you follow the rules and do your best to protect yourself, you can still catch COVID if you take a trip.

Russo recommends making a contingency plan for what to do if you happen to test positive for COVID while abroad.

“If you have to go back to work and you haven’t taken the extra time, just know that you may need to hang out at your destination for extra days before you test negative,” he said.

What does this mean for you

Despite the lure of “revenge travel” from the coronavirus, it’s not without risks. There are steps you can take to keep you and your fellow travelers safe, including getting vaccinated and boosted, covering up in public, and not making a trip to an area with a high number of COVID cases.

When you’re planning a trip, make sure you know the COVID rules and regulations at your destination and when you get home — including testing requirements.

The information in this article is current as of the date mentioned, which means that more recent information may be available when you read this. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit the Coronavirus news page.

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