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Column: Are summer vacations safe during pandemic?
CARLY SHAREC headshot.jpg
Carly Sharec

Typically when the temps turn hot and the kids are out of school, many of us look to take a vacation. Whether it’s to a sandy Florida beach, cooler mountain air, a tropical getaway or a popular tourist site, traveling is a hobby many enjoy.

Admittedly, a worldwide pandemic of a highly contagious virus has put a damper on many of our plans in 2020, including vacations.

First, let’s be clear – your health and peace of mind should be the top priority! I encourage you to always touch base with a trusted physician with any concerns. Any public activity carries with it a risk of exposure to COVID-19, so if it’s not worth it to you – that is absolutely fine. There’s still plenty of time for vacations in the future!

But if you are ready for a getaway this summer, there are a few guidelines public health and government officials have recommended following for as safe a trip as possible:

• Wear a mask. While guidelines were unclear on face coverings earlier this year, communities with widespread mask usage have seen low occurrences of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention continues to advise masks be worn in public areas, and Gainesville-based travel company World’s Best Adventures will require masks to be worn on bus transportation at all times.

• Check on your destination. If your travel destination is experiencing a spike in virus cases, you will probably want to change your plans. (Keep in mind that the U.S. Department of State has recommended against international travel at this time, and that some European countries have banned all non-essential travel from U.S. citizens.)

• Don’t worry about hotels. Hotels already had high sanitary standards in place, and have doubled down on those efforts due to the pandemic. You’ll likely notice an increase in cleaning in public areas, as well as hand sanitizing stations throughout the hotel. The Texas Medical Association has listed “staying at a hotel for two nights” as a “moderate-low” risk activity.  

• Get back in touch with nature. Camping and outdoor activities (with low to no crowds) have been labeled as low-risk. Maybe now’s the time to get back into hiking or to try canoeing. Just remember that being outside does not mean you can ignore social distancing guidelines.

• Steer clear of large events. The Texas Medical Association has listed large events (think concerts or sporting events) as “high-risk” activities. As event venues re-open, many are enforcing social distancing guidelines, but if you do find yourself at a crowded event, make sure you wear a mask.

• Stay home if you or someone in your party is sick. This is true for whenever you come down with a contagious bug – stay home, get plenty of rest and fluids and avoid public areas. 

As with most things, common sense reigns! Wash your hands often and thoroughly, maintain some distance from other people and wear a face covering when in public spaces. It may be inconvenient, but with a little cooperation and making some adjustments, we can all still travel and vacation responsibly. 

Carly Sharec is with the Gainesville-based travel agency World’s Best Adventures. Visit or call 770-535-6323 for more information. 

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