Author: Cat Goodyear, PA-C, Novant Health-GoHealth Urgent Care

Are you tired of looking at the same four walls? Is the dog park the most exciting place you’ve visited recently? Do you even remember where your passport is? If any of these questions feel too real, then you are like most of the world right about now. Last August, after only a few months of the pandemic, a survey conducted by American Express found that 48% of Americans reported feeling “anxious and stressed” because they could not travel. It’s easy to imagine how much worse we’re feeling now, as we head into a second summer of COVID-19 restrictions and travel concerns. For many Americans though, the itch to get-up-and-go mixed with the comfort of being vaccinated and declining rates of infection means: It’s go-time!

After more than a year of feeling stuck at home, it looks like the travel industry is in for a robust summer season. In March of this year, the American Automobile Association (“AAA”) reported that 84% of American travelers have plans to travel in the next six months. (This figure came from the most recent Longwoods International study which tracks American travel trends globally.) For folks who are contemplating or already booking travel, there are a few new terms to add to our travel lexicon:

“Many Americans and those around the world had their vacations altered or outright canceled last year, so they are all looking to satisfy their travel itch at the same time,” said Eric Jones, co-founder of The Vacationer travel journal and planning guide.

Now that you’re well-versed, passport in hand, and ready to roll out the door, let’s talk about health and safety while traveling. The single most important and most protective thing you can do is get vaccinated. In April, the CDC gave the green light to vaccinated individuals to travel and wander safely, which is a pretty amazing “Hall Pass,” if you ask me.

Whether you journey near, far, or not-just-yet, remember the basics: “Wash (your hands often), Wait (six feet apart), Wear (your mask).” and also consider these simple, straight-forward, best practices for safe travel this summer:

  1. Stay Outdoors. The risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 outside is very low. So, when in Rome, spend more time at the Roman Forum than in the Sistine Chapel (although both are breathtaking).
  2. Always Bring Hand Sanitizer. Even if you’re vaccinated!
  3. Travel with Your “Bubble.” These are close family and friends with whom you have spent the last year holed up inside the family room playing Monopoly™. I know you’re sick of them. I, too, am weary of my people. But with a change of venue, your parents, children, cousin Moe, and Grandpa Joe will shed their “Pandemic Personas” as “property tycoons” and “railroad barons,” revealing the loving, kind, interesting, and downright funny people you once loved.
  4. Stay 6 Feet Apart from People Who Are Not in Your “Bubble.” Yes, I said it. Because it matters. What’s a “Bubble” you ask? Re-read number four…

Finally, before you head off, remember to plan ahead and confirm COVID-19 testing requirements for your destination location, airline, or other mode of travel. All Novant Health-GoHealth Urgent Care centers offer rapid (approximately 15 minute) NAAT COVID-19 tests and send-out PCR tests on site (approximately 24-48 hour turnaround time). Additionally, our centers are Certified Hawaii Safe Travel Testing Sites! Learn more at GoHealthUC.com/north-carolina/travel-testing.

“Welcome!” is a warm and wonderful word in any language. Bienvenidos! Willkommen! Bienvenue! Tervetuloa! Vitejte! Mahalo! And wherever you are, stay safe and be nice.