13 safety guidelines for traveling during the holidays

Planning on traveling during the holidays?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, be informed of the risks involved.
If you are one of the families planning to travel for the holidays to either visit family or take a vacation, here are some safety guidelines: 
1. Before you travel, consider the following:
Is COVID-19 spreading at your destination? The more cases at your destination, the more likely you are to get infected during travel and spread the virus to others when you return. Check each state’s cases in the last seven days here.
Do you live with someone who might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19? If you get infected while traveling, you can spread the virus to loved ones when you return, even if you don’t have symptoms.
Are you at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19? Anyone can get very ill from the virus, but older adults and people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Does your destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? Some state, local, and territorial governments have requirements, such as requiring people to wear masks and requiring those who recently traveled to stay home for up to 14 days. 
2. Know your travel risk:
Flights with layovers and traveling on a cruise ship or river boat, pose a higher risk of getting COVID-19. 
Short trips by car with members of your household, with no stops along the way, pose a lower risk.
3. Know when to delay your travel to avoid spreading COVID-19:
Delay your trip if you are sick, have suspected or diagnosed COVID-19 (even if you don’t have symptoms), and have been around someone with suspected or diagnosed COVID-19 in the past 14 days (even if they did not have symptoms).
4. Masks:
Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public places. Follow the airlines and local governments’ mask rules. Over the summer, airlines removed parents and children from flights because the children refused to wear masks.
5. Avoid crowds:
Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart from anyone who is not from your household.
MORE: Traveling with pets? Here are some tips!
6. Wash your hands:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer.
7. Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
8. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
9. Car rentals:
If renting a car, ask what has been done to disinfect and sanitize the vehicles. Bring your own disinfecting wipes to wipe down door handles, steering wheels, shifters and control panels. Use AAA’s COVID-19 travel restrictions map for the latest state and local travel restrictions.
10. Hotels:
Prior to any hotel stay, call ahead to ensure your hotel is open and ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests.
11. Get your flu vaccine:
Gatherings can contribute to the spread of other infectious diseases. Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health and your family’s health this season. September and October are good times to get vaccinated. However, flu vaccines are still useful any time during the flu season and can often be accessed into January or later.
12. TSA
TSA has implemented changes to the security screening process to reduce the potential for cross-contamination in the security checkpoint known as the “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure.” campaign. It focuses on modifications to procedures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 
13. TSA PreCheck
Enroll in TSA PreCheck now to expedite screening and reduce touchpoints. Travelers who are enrolled in TSA PreCheck® don’t have to remove their shoes, belts, lightweight jackets, electronics or their bag of travel-size liquids and gels. 
14. Pack those gifts, but please do not use wrapping paper
TSA recommends against wrapping gifts when packing them for a flight. Why? Because if a wrapped gift triggers an alarm, it will need to be unwrapped to determine whether the contents of the wrapped item present a security threat. Instead of wrapping a gift, consider using a gift bag, a gift box or a festive bow so that wrapping paper does not need to be removed. TSA’s officer-elves don’t want to take on the role of Scrooge and unwrap someone else’s gift. However, they will have to if the item triggers a security alarm.