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What to consider when planning a pandemic getaway

Be prepared for an ever-changing landscape as the

Be prepared for an ever-changing landscape as the latest COVID-19 variant upends arrangements and itineraries, experts say. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/jacoblund

Are you planning to travel in the weeks and months ahead? Be prepared for an ever-changing landscape as the latest COVID-19 variant upends arrangements and itineraries. Here are five ideas to consider.

1. Consider getting vaccinated, boosted and masked up to avoid illness and spread

Scientists and medical experts tell us that those who are vaccinated and boosted are less likely to test positive and if they do, the risk of serious illness and hospitalization is reduced. Boosted travelers are also less likely to spread the disease while traveling or staying with friends and family. Also, consider wearing an N95 mask rather than a cloth mask to increase the level of protection.

2. Test before you go

Home tests can be hard to come by. And medical offices, drugstores and other testing sites can mean long lines and a sparse number of appointments. But, if you are having symptoms or have been exposed to family groups or large crowds before traveling, testing can provide the knowledge you need to proceed responsibly.

3. Review policies, encourage kindness

When planning travel during this topsy-turvy time, review payment and cancellation policies and consider travel insurance before finalizing your plans. Look at the option of using mileage or points to book your air and hotel travel. Should you need to cancel, many companies will simply return your hard-earned points or mileage. You will find them restored to your account rather than waiting weeks or months for a refund to your credit card. It’s a confusing era for everyone involved. So, when faced with a bump on the road to your destination, your patience and kindness can help reduce the mounting stress of this pandemic.

4. Free and flexible

Particularly when traveling with kiddos, arrive early and remove the challenge of scurrying through crowds and stressing in long lines. Canceled flights, weather delays and COVID concerns will seem less daunting if not you're stretched for time. Consider the pros and cons of checking luggage. Carrying on provides extra flexibility to shift to another flight should delays or cancellations impact your plans. However, corralling kids while lugging heavy bags can be overwhelming. Mailing bulky coats and boots ahead, for example, can keep hands free and relieve unnecessary headaches.

5. Testing positive while traveling

U.S. states, airlines, airports and train stations (with the exception of Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands) do not currently require proof of a negative test for travel. However, should you test positive, experts urge travelers to isolate to avoid spreading disease to others. Check with your family physician before departure for advice on how to handle the prospect of illness while away from home. Should someone in your family test positive outside the United States, a range of rules and protocols will apply. It is wise to familiarize yourselves with the details and timing of these potential requirements before departure.

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