COVID, Travel, and Holiday Gatherings: New Guidance from the CDC

CDC COVID Holiday Travel

September is typically the start of ‘Holiday Travel Booking’ season and well, this year is a little different (okay, a lot).

In a nutshell: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released several considerations to help protect individuals, their families, friends, and communities from COVID-19.

First, these were created to supplement and not replace the guidelines that are already in place.

The (typically) busier holiday travel dates will be upon us once we go beyond Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos.

And, as you know, Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. So what will happen this year?  Well, we’ll have to see, but this is the time to purchase those airline tickets and they’ll likely be lower than in the past since air travel is down – about 1/3 of 2019 passengers.

The TSA had some encouraging news about Labor Day numbers and while they were higher than prior months, they were still considerably lower than the same time last year – but, promising for the travel industry.

Since many are working remotely it’s likely that passengers will have more flexibility with their travel dates so that’s another plus as far as finding lower fares.

If you’re ready to travel and have less flexibility for the upcoming holiday season, then now may be the best time to search for those cheaper flights.  Actually any flights – it’s worth looking now for 2021 travel too especially since the major carriers made significant changes with their policies.

If you have more (holiday) flexibility, then perhaps you’ll fit into the ‘last minute’ bookers scenario to see if fares go down even more.  Be sure to review airline restrictions and consider travel insurance (with COVID coverage).

Let’s get back to the CDC update …

What does the CDC say about Holiday Travel and Gatherings?

While you’re thinking about whether or not you should visit family, friends, or vacation over the holiday period, it’s important to consider your risk.   Information about the number of cases for your given destination can be found on the area’s health department website.  If a vacation, review the resort’s health and safety protocols. You can visit the CDC site to review other risk factors.

If you’re hosting a celebration, here are some tips:

  • Host outdoor activities rather than indoor activities as much as possible.
  • If indoors – avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, or fully enclosed indoor spaces.
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather.
  • Limit numbers of attendees as much as possible.
  • Provide or encourage friends/family to bring supplies like extra masks, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and tissues.
  • If you are planning in-person holiday gatherings with people outside of your household, consider asking all guests to strictly avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.

Traveling During Covid:

CDC COVID Holiday Travel
  • Wear a Check Pricesprotective face mask that covers your nose and mouth.
  • Stay at least six-feet apart, whether you’re inside or outside, from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Keep washing your hands – and often – with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or Check Pricesuse hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Always avoid contact with anyone who is sick (COVID or any other time!).
  • Please – avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • The CDC also mentions getting a flu shot.
  • Avoid using restroom facilities at high traffic times.
  • Avoid close contact – don’t shake hands or hug – and the CDC also says to avoid those elbow bumps.

The CDC also offered suggestions for different risk categories.


Lower risk activities include:

  1. Decorate outside with neighbors or friends while practicing social distancing.
  2. Small dinner with your household only.
  3. Shop online.

Moderate risk activities include:

  1. Go to an outdoor venue – haunted forest, apple orchard/pumpkin patch (masks, hand sanitizer before touching items, social distancing).
  2. Small outdoor dinner with family a nd friends.

Higher risk activities:

  1. Avoid traditional trick-or-treating.
  2. Avoid large crowds i.e. hayrides, indoor activities.
  3. Avoid shopping in crowded stores.

More tips on traveling during COVID-19 from the CDC can be found here.

Don’t Miss:

Traveling to Cancun? Here’s What You Need to Know Now
Travel Confidently with Tripadvisor’s Launch of ‘Travel Safe’ Tools
No Mask, No Flight: What Major Airlines Want You to Know

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About Donna Adinolfi 248 Articles
Donna Adinolfi is a wellness travel expert, a freelance writer, an award-winning photographer, and the founder/publisher of Her 30+ year career includes serving as the Travel & Spa Editor of Balance Magazine as well as planning wellness travel & retreats. An avid fan of the freedom from carrying cash or credit cards, Donna loves to visit all-inclusive wellness resorts in the U.S, and traveling to some of Mexico's and the Caribbean's many all-inclusive resorts several times each year. She's also a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association.
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