With new variants of the COVID-19 virus circulating throughout the world, you may be questioning your upcoming travel plans if they involve flying. Traveling in an airport can put you at risk of infection because of crowded spaces, exposure to germs from around the world, contaminated public surfaces, and lack of social distancing. So, is it safe to fly right now?

The short answer is no, but if you must travel, there are precautions you can take to help prevent transmission while in the airport and on the plane. Read on for the full scoop on traveling during the pandemic.

What is the Delta Variant?

The delta variant is the current predominant strain of the COVID-19 virus. It is a highly transmissible mutation of the virus that was discovered in late 2020, after the previous discovery of an alpha variant. New information about the delta variant is limited, but it is rumored to be the most contagious strain of the COVID virus. What we do know is that the delta variant is likely more contagious than previous strands. 

With conflicting information going around about how contagious the variant is and whether the vaccine can protect us from it, it’s best to air on the safe side and follow protocols to keep yourself and others safe from infection. 

Minimize Your Risk to Others

If traveling by plane during the pandemic, it is important to follow the state and international guidelines to keep yourself and those around you safe. Here are a few of the things you can do before and while traveling to minimize your risk:

  1. Stay up-to-date on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines
  2. Wear a face mask on all forms of transportation
  3. Get vaccinated
  4. Watch for COVID-related symptoms
  5. Leave the middle seat open on the airplane for social distancing
  6. Do not travel until 14 days after a COVID diagnosis

For all up to date information on how to stay safe while traveling, visit the CDC.gov website.

Are Vaccinated People Safe to Travel?

Fully vaccinated people can travel domestically and internationally with less risk than unvaccinated people, but they are still not fully protected. The goal of the vaccine is to prevent severe infection, not stop the spread of the virus altogether. Vaccinated people still should wear face masks and follow the precautions to help slow transmission of the virus and ensure safety when travelling. 

Is it Safe to Fly Internationally?

While some foreign borders remain closed, there are many countries you can travel to right now. Do some research on the country you are planning to travel prior to booking so you can follow the proper regulations. Most foreign countries require you to provide a negative COVID test result to return to the U.S. and won’t allow you on the airplane without it. 

The CDC advises that fully vaccinated people can travel domestically at low risk, while international travel poses a higher risk and requires additional precaution.

When traveling abroad, it is extra important to keep the people around you safe since some countries outside the U.S. don’t have the same access to vaccines. Wear a mask while indoors, get vaccinated before traveling, and practice social distancing to be respectful of other people’s health, especially when entering their country as a tourist. 

Consider Private Forms of Transportation

If you are unsure about flying, you can avoid it altogether while still being able to travel if you utilize private forms of transportation such as cars, private buses, and private planes. Private forms of transportation are in no way accessible to everyone but if you are able to take advantage of one of those modes of transportation it can be a great way to stay safe and still be able to take a vacation. 

When Will it be Safe to Travel Again?

With new surges in COVID cases as the delta variant is becoming more prominent, it may not be completely safe to travel until the end of the pandemic. As an individual, the best thing you can do to ensure it will be safe to travel again soon is to get vaccinated and slow the spread of the virus. In the meantime, taking local vacations and only traveling when necessary is a great way to control your impact. Besides, traveling is not the only way to thrive during a summer pandemic