How to tell if your travel destination is COVID-safe

A woman with a mask at the airport

Travelers have a tall task in front of them in the COVID era. But sometimes the call of the open road is just too much to ignore.

On top of concerns related to the coronavirus itself, plus measures including social distancing, mask-wearing, and proper cleaning, travelers must worry about a patchwork of federal, state, and local regulations that can make it difficult to understand what’s required — and what conditions will be like on the ground when you reach your destination.

Of all of those possibilities, determining conditions at your destination may be the most overlooked. Fortunately, sources are plentiful, and a little bit of research can get you all the information you’ll need, as well as help with booking.

Do your research

Dig around before you book or depart to see what’s going on at your destination. There are many sources for this, including online media outlets for the destination area. But not every source is that trustworthy or able to accurately tell you at any given moment what is happening in a given geographic area.

Here’s a checklist of information you need, plus the most trusted COVID data sources where you can see what’s happening at your destination.

Check local regulations and restrictions

Before you book, make sure to check for any travel restrictions. Some common travel restrictions in the United States and elsewhere include:

  • Requirements to wear a mask.
  • Self-quarantining for a specific period of time before and/or after you arrive.
  • Proof of a negative COVID test. If your destination requires this, you’ll need to get yourself tested before your trip. Some states also require that you take a test after you land. The method of testing also changes by state.
  • Completing legal paperwork related to COVID and your exposure.

State-by-state COVID data

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an exhaustive list of measures you can take to maximize your own safety and understand your risk as you travel to and from different areas.

The CDC’s frequently-updated central hub for COVID-19 statistics, maps, and charts includes current data for all 50 states.

The CDC also has an interactive world map and database for more information on the COVID status of every country.

In addition to the CDC, the gold standard for tracking cases and deaths — from cities up to the entire planet — is the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Finally, Expedia has a tool you can use to search for local restrictions by destination. Learn how to utilize Expedia’s COVID-19 Travel Advisor tool so that you have a guide on current policies regarding your destination.

Getting there

Booking sites have also moved to help customers continue to make safe travel arrangements in keeping with all applicable rules and restrictions.

Trying to plan a trip but need a little guidance? Many popular travel sites have changed and adapted their practices to help facilitate travel in the COVID era.

  • Expedia: In addition to the searchable list, this longtime travel leader has the full rundown on restrictions and their own policies and procedures, including easy-to-find information on managing refunds in the event they’re needed.
  • Booking.com: This site has a drop-down menu of COVID travel restrictions and regulations by continent, with an extensive FAQ section covering all aspects of the travel and trip-planning processes for the new normal.
  • Kayak: Kayak also has a variety of resources to help would-be travelers decide if a trip is right for them.

There are plenty of resources to help you plan the safest trip possible. Please stay safe and remember that, in these times, the safest trip is the one you don’t take. But if the open road (and a change of pace) come calling, you won’t be planning on your own.

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