September 17, 2021

What You Need to Know About Traveling During COVID-19

Young woman wearing a mask holding a passport and carrying a backpack at an airport

Medically Reviewed by Baptist Health

Despite all the progress made toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus is still circulating in populations around the world. If you plan to travel in the U.S. or internationally, it’s important to know what the current recommendations are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as any requirements in the country or countries you’ll be visiting. 

This article provides the latest advice from the CDC based on whether you’ve been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 (meaning you’re two weeks past your final vaccination) or are unvaccinated, and whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally. 

CDC Domestic Travel Recommendations for the Fully Vaccinated

If you’ve received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and are traveling within the U.S., the only recommendations from the CDC are that you self-monitor for symptoms, wear a mask, and follow other disease prevention practices (avoid crowds as much as possible, avoid touching frequently touched surfaces, wash your hands frequently, etc.) during your travels.  

Don’t take a chance with your health.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection and end the pandemic. The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19, but it can help protect you from serious illness. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and make a vaccination appointment at a location near you. 

CDC Domestic Travel Recommendations for the Unvaccinated

There are four recommendations for people who are unvaccinated and will be traveling within the U.S. First, you should get tested 1 to 3 days before you travel. Second, you should either get tested 3 to 5 days after you travel and self-quarantine for 7 days or self-quarantine for 10 days if you don’t get tested. 

The third and fourth recommendations are the same as for people who are vaccinated: self-monitor for symptoms and take disease-prevention precautions including wearing a mask. 

CDC International Travel Recommendations and Requirements for the Fully Vaccinated

If you’re fully vaccinated and will be traveling internationally, you must be aware of both the CDC’s recommendations and any requirements of the country you’re visiting as well as U.S. requirements for returning travelers.

The recommendations are that you wear a mask and take other disease-prevention measures, self-monitor for symptoms, and get tested 3 to 5 days after you travel. As for requirements, you must get tested before returning to the U.S.  

CDC International Travel Recommendations and Requirements for the Unvaccinated

The CDC says unvaccinated international travelers should get tested 1 to 3 days before traveling out of the U.S. and 3 to 5 days after returning. You should self-quarantine for 7 days if your test after returning is negative. If you choose not to be tested after returning, you should self-quarantine for 10 days. 

While traveling, you should wear a mask and take other appropriate precautions. You should also self-monitor for symptoms. And you must get tested before returning to the U.S.

Save Time and Start Your COVID-19 Test Online

If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or had been exposed to COVID-19, Baptist Health is able to see you virtually, diagnose and order a COVID-19 test to the urgent care closest to you. Learn more and get started now.

Other Considerations for Traveling During the Pandemic

As you consider a trip, it’s important to keep these questions in mind:

  • Are you at risk of developing severe illness if you contract COVID-19? Anyone can catch the virus, but people with certain medical conditions are more likely to experience serious symptoms.
  • Do you live with or frequently interact with someone who has a higher risk of severe illness? Traveling increases your risk of bringing the virus into your home environment.
  • Are your friends, family members, and coworkers vaccinated? If they are, the chance of them developing severe illness is greatly reduced. 
  • Could you get vaccinated before you travel? You’re considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your final vaccination. 
  • Do you know the travel requirements, if any, of the country you’re traveling to? Arriving at your destination and being in violation of COVID-19 travel requirements could impact your ability to travel within that country.

While there are many valid reasons for traveling during a pandemic, you should weigh the pros and cons of your trip carefully. 

Get Vaccinated and Minimize Your Travel Requirements

The COVID-19 vaccines are free, safe, and effective. If you haven’t been vaccinated and would like to be, it will make it easier to travel around the U.S. and abroad. Make an appointment with Baptist Health today. 

Next Steps and Useful Resources:

Schedule Your Vaccine Appointment
Start Your COVID-19 Test Online
Are Concerts Safe to Attend with the Delta Variant Surge?
What to Know About COVID-19 Breakthrough Cases

Learn More.