How to Travel Safely During the Holidays


Lee Hardisty

Graphic by Lee Hardisty

Mia LoBosco, Back Page Editor

Now that MIHS is operating fully in person and the holidays are approaching, it is important to follow COVID-19 guidelines while traveling to keep everyone at our school safe. 

Last year, a statewide lockdown made traveling during the holidays both dangerous and challenging. Many of us are eager to finally go on vacation or see family members this winter break. However, the pandemic is still here, including a brand-new Omicron variant, and keeping each other safe while traveling should be a top priority. 

Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the Omicron variant yet, and how it will affect travel plans in the coming weeks. For now, make sure you are following all of the safety guidelines, and be prepared to possibly reconsider your trip when more information comes out. 

Before you leave on your trip, it is helpful to learn the rules of your destination. Different places around the world have varying regulations, so reading through the mask, vaccine and social distancing requirements of that location are critical before starting your trip. You should also keep an eye on the development of cases there, and potentially cancel if that area has a rapidly increasing infection rate. 

If you or a loved one are planning to travel internationally, it is especially important to follow the new global travel regulations. The CDC strongly recommends people to be fully vaccinated before going to another country. A negative COVID-19 test is also required, regardless of vaccination status, within one day of returning to the United States. 

Whether you are traveling domestically or internationally, wearing a mask is one of the best ways to stay safe. Even if you are fully vaccinated, you can still carry the virus and spread it to others. With the Omicron variant spreading rapidly around the globe, masking up is even more critical for the safety of yourself and others.

Even the type of mask you wear has proven to be important for traveling. According to Dr. David Freedman, a member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, KN95 and N95 masks are the most effective. 

Getting vaccinated, in addition to having your vaccine card handy, is another way to stay safe.  It is also one of the best ways to protect yourself from the Omicron variant. About 95% of Mercer Island is vaccinated, but these rates vary in other places. Check in on your family and friends to make sure they have received their shots as well. Also, if you are at least 16 years old, a booster shot is highly recommended. 

Social distancing is another thing to keep in mind while traveling. Although this has been a challenge at school with a large number of people, it is still important to follow this guideline the best you can, including on your trip. If you know you will be around others without masks or with those who are unvaccinated, make sure to keep at least a six-foot distance from them. This is still recommended even if everyone around you is vaccinated. 

When you return from your trip, taking safety precautions before coming back to school is crucial. If you can, quarantine in between the day you come home and the first day of school. Additionally, it is a good idea to get a negative test to make sure you haven’t contracted the virus while being asymptomatic. 

The development of the new Omicron variant has proven that this pandemic is nowhere near over. Although we all want to travel and see family over the holidays, we need to make sure that we do it safely so we can protect our community.