Traveling During COVID-19? What to Pack to Reduce Your Risk

Being prepared can help mitigate the risks slightly.

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You might not be able to eliminate all the risks when traveling during COVID-19, but being prepared can certainly help mitigate the risks. It helps to have a plan for how to avoid unnecessary exposure, as well as to know what to pack for COVID-19 travel.

First of all, before traveling, read up on the recommendations by experts. You may realize your travel plans are too risky, or that your destination is experiencing an outbreak. (Check out this checklist to see if COVID-19 travel is safe for you.)

Once you're confident that your travel plans are safe, it's time to consider what to pack for COVID-19 travel. No matter where you’re going (or why), don’t leave without the following items:

1. Your medications

If you live with a chronic illness, it’s important to keep your condition under control. This may help prevent COVID-19 complications, in the event you get infected. You want to pack more than enough to last the entire trip. Not only that, but it can be challenging to get a prescription refill when you're in another location.

By the way, if you are in an at-risk group for serious complications, experts recommend not traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. A mask (or several)

Cloth face coverings must be worn in public places. This is especially important when you’re traveling outside of your local region, for it can help protect the locals at your destination. Learn about the types of face masks here.

3. Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol

Keep it within reach, such as in a purse, backpack, or the cup holder of your car. This way, you can sanitize your hands after touching surfaces in public places. For example, you can sanitize after filling up with gas, picking up take-out food from a restaurant, or after using a taxi.

Keep in mind that hand sanitizer is not quite as effective as washing with clean water and soap, so it’s best to wash your hands in a sink as soon as you have the chance.

4. Snacks and meals

The safest food option when traveling is your own packed meals. That’s because dining inside restaurants can be a high-risk activity, especially in another geographic area.

Of course, not every type of travel makes packing food feasible. If you can’t pack your own food, use drive-through and take-out options. When possible, eat in your car, your hotel room, or outside at a safe distance from others.

5. Sanitizing wipes with at least 70% alcohol

Alcohol-based wipes and sprays can help clean surfaces during your trip. For example, you may want to regularly sanitize your phone, your car's steering wheel, your seat area on the plane, or your hotel room.

Finally, don’t forget to bring caution and common sense. Traveling during an active pandemic is inherently and inevitably risky, and your actions can protect—or harm—the local population.