6 Precautions Travelers Can Take This Holiday Season

By Amanda Wowk

December 02, 2020

Your decision to travel (or not to) this holiday season will likely be based on a series of micro-choices: Should I travel? Where should I stay? How do I feel comfortable and safe traveling (e.g., driving, flying, taking a train)? When and where can I get tested for COVID? Where could I isolate before and after my trip?

Like the decision to travel, the answers to these questions are personal. Here are six precautions you can take to feel more comfortable and confident if you choose to travel this holiday season.

Follow your destination’s travel requirements—and get tested

Depending on where you’re planning to travel to this holiday season, your destination may have specific travel mandates that could affect your trip. Be sure to check (and keep checking!) your destination’s entry requirements well in advance of—and up to—your departure, as mandates are changing rapidly. Your destination may require that you provide results of a negative COVID test taken prior to departure, quarantine for up to a 14-day period, and/or test negative for COVID during your stay/quarantine period. 

Also remember that a negative COVID test is a point-in-time check, and continuing to be diligent about social distancing and mask wearing—before, during, and after your trip—is key. 

Dr. Emily Landon, an associate professor of medicine and an infectious disease expert at the University of Chicago, told the New York Times that she advises travelers to quarantine for up to 14 days before testing. 

“You have to lower your risk, then test,” said Dr. Landon. “The tests are most sensitive five to eight days after exposure. And they’re not perfect. The faster they are, generally speaking, the least likely they are to be accurate.” 

Consult Neighborhood Safety Scores to understand your risk level

If you’re heading to an unfamiliar destination for the holidays, you can better understand potential risk factors with TripIt’s Neighborhood Safety Scores.

TripIt shows safety scores for a variety of categories in neighborhoods spanning the world, including a Health and Medical score that factors in COVID data. This information is available in the Neighborhood Safety Scores section within each location on your TripIt itinerary with an address.

To help you make the best decisions for you as you travel, and to better understand the areas in which you’re traveling, you can now set a personal risk level within the Neighborhood Safety Scores feature. Then, TripIt will warn you if you’re planning on visiting an area that exceeds your threshold. 

Try this: Open your TripIt app. In the new Safety section within Profile, you can set a personal risk level. You can also access the personalization screen from the Neighborhood Safety Scores feature in the app. When a plan’s location score is above the personal risk level that you’ve set, you’ll see an indicator on the plan in your trip summary, as well as in the detail screen of that plan. 

Fly on off-peak days 

Historically, Christmas Day has been the least busy day for travel during the holiday season—making it the most desirable day to fly if you’re looking to avoid crowds. Shorter lines at security and fewer passengers on flights will help mitigate the stress of flying during a pandemic. Once you’re on your way to the airport, you can also check current security wait times via TripIt Security Wait Times (for select airports) or the My TSA app so you know which checkpoint line is shortest. 

Note these tips from the TSA

Speaking of the TSA, the agency has released new guidance to help travelers know what to expect when traveling for the holidays this year. 

Among the tips they shared, they encourage travelers to: 

  • Enroll in TSA PreCheck now to expedite screening and reduce touchpoints.
  • Remember that you can bring one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on luggage. (Be prepared to remove it from the carry-on for special screening.)
  • Keep a safe, social distance from other travelers while in the checkpoint line.
  • Wear your mask at all times; except when you’re asked to momentarily remove your mask to verify your identity at the checkpoint.
  • Request that TSA officers change gloves after each pat-down, if you’d like them to. 
  • Follow TSA on Twitter to get tips and answers to your last minute questions.

Read more: ‘Did All Passengers Wear Masks?’ And Other Questions I Can Answer After Flying During COVID

Consider a vacation rental to preserve your bubble

Recently released data from TripIt revealed that travelers are extending the duration of their upcoming holiday trips and increasingly looking to book vacation rentals for their longer-term stays. And while the ability to work remotely makes a longer-term rental all the more attractive, there are safety-related benefits for booking your own space, too. 

At a vacation rental, you have more control over who you interact with. By not staying in a relative’s or friend’s home (for example), you can minimize your contact with others. You also have control over meal times, a higher risk behavior due to the need to remove your mask. If you’re staying at a vacation rental, you can bring your own food from home or shop locally (with a mask) to limit your social interactions. 

Here are seven factors to consider before booking a vacation rental for the holidays.

Leverage Nearby Places once you arrive

Should you need medical help while traveling, TripIt’s Nearby Places feature makes it easy to find hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies close to where you’re staying. All you need to do is access Nearby Places in your TripIt app. To get there, tap on your trip, and then tap on any item within your itinerary with an address. There you will find Nearby Places. Then, select the type of place you’re looking for, and TripIt will find what’s close by. 

The feature will give you the medical facility’s contact details, hours, and more. TripIt will also show you an interactive map with each option tagged so you can see where it is in relation to the address(es) in your itinerary. You can easily get directions or, if you find a place you want to visit but can’t get there right away, you can tap the plus (+) sign to save the information for later.