Vacationing in the COVID era

To say that the coronavirus pandemic disrupted our lives is an understatement if there ever was one, and the current respite – albeit potentially short-lived – is a welcome glimpse of a return to normalcy. For example, in the good old days of a virus-free world many of us would be planning summer vacations right about now. It’s a nice idea, but it begs the question: is it safe?

Dr. Sara Suliman, at University of California San Francisco, has a background in immunology and infectious diseases, and she offered the Boston Globe this piece of advice: “Since the pandemic is unlikely to disappear and life needs to continue, it may still be worth proceeding with personal travel plans, while taking advantage of all available protective measures. People should weigh the pros and cons of travel, and prioritize less risky travel modes, like cars, where possible.”

In the same article, Harvard epidemiologist Dr. William Hanage suggested that if you are considering booking a vacation this year, “Book something you can cancel. Then reassess when your trip is closer. Remember, it’s not only about the chance of being infected, but also the chance of restrictions being implemented wherever you are vacationing. It wouldn’t be fun quarantining for a substantial portion of your stay.”

Another piece of advice is offered by Rebecca Weber, CEO of the Association of Mature American Citizens: make sure your insurance is up to date.

“In addition to making sure that your health insurance will cover you no matter where you travel in the U.S. and abroad, you might want to purchase travel insurance. It may also be wise to look into purchasing a travel assistance plan as well. There is a difference. Travel insurance covers monetary losses that you may incur while traveling. Travel assistance plans help pay for things such as an emergency medical evacuation and travel arrangements, a nurse escort, a traveling companion and other emergency costs you might encounter if you get sick or hurt while traveling. It can even provide emergency cash advances.”

As adventuresome as you might feel, it’s a good idea to keep your travel plans as simple as possible and to do some research as regards the level of COVID danger at your planned destination. For example, the Centers for Disease Control has an updated international list of destinations based on COVID risk assessments on its website. Meanwhile, the non-profit Act Now Coalition offers an online resource that monitors domestic CIOVID risk levels.

Weber also stresses that it is above all the items on your travel check list that you are vaccinated against the COVID virus and, of course, that you consult with your healthcare provider. He or she will tell you whether it is a good idea, health wise, to go where you are planning to go and how you are planning to get there. At the least it will give you peace of mind and help ensure a very bon voyage.

One final thought. Arguably, among the safer vacation destinations that you might want to consider if you are planning a getaway is the Great Outdoors. Particularly for those seniors who wish to get out and enjoy fresh air and scenic beauty, there’s no better deal than an annual National Park Pass for $20 or a lifetime pass for $80. Up to three additional people in a vehicle are admitted free with the cardholder. Passes may be obtained here.

As for the status of the pandemic, the master of the malaprop, Yogi Berra, once said, “It ain’t over until it’s over.”

John Grimaldi, Association of Mature American Citizens, Special to Lassen News