The coronavirus pandemic put a hard stop on my travel earlier this year as destinations closed to visitors and quarantine orders were enacted. Not wanting to get trapped somewhere all by myself, I opted to quarantine with my family in Florida. We have taken the virus seriously by wearing face masks, washing our hands frequently and avoiding public areas whenever possible. The CDC guidance has been our guidebook, and we’ve all managed to stay healthy inside our family bubble which spans multiple households.
When I decided to travel to Las Vegas and Salt Lake City last month (a trip that was pure gezellig), I knew that I would be exposed to lots of potentially infected people — on the airplane and at hotels, restaurants, museums and everywhere else I might go. Although I took serious precautions, I knew that no sanitary program is 100% effective. By leaving my family’s safety bubble, I was taking a chance and risking possible infection.
After a couple of weeks on the road, it was time to return home. At that point, I had to stop thinking about myself and prioritize protecting my family.
There were a few facts that I needed to consider in developing a plan for re-entry into the family bubble:
- Coronavirus symptoms do not typically present themselves for several days after a person is exposed.
- Many young people have had asymptomatic cases: They felt fine and had no indication that they were infected, but were still capable of spreading the virus to others.
- The CDC suggests that any person exposed to the virus should isolate for 10 to 14 days after exposure.
Despite my mask-wearing, sanitizing and social distancing, there was no guarantee that I was virus-free. Exposure to the virus can occur at any point during a trip, even on the flight home. Bringing the virus to my family was unacceptable, so I made the decision to self-isolate at a local hotel. It was a no-brainer, and had in fact been my plan all along.
As for my quarantine, it was fine. The hotel had wi-fi and cable television. There was an on-property restaurant with takeaway food options and UberEats provided “leave at door” delivery from nearby dining establishments. I didn’t have to come into contact with others and, by serving the time in isolation, I guaranteed my family’s safety. That was the only thing that mattered to me.
Whether traveling during the pandemic was the right choice, I can’t say. In retrospect, it is comforting to know that I did not contract COVID-19 during my trip. I am confident that my precautions made a difference. But, as with every decision important decision, we must each assess the potential risks and weigh those against the expected reward. If you do decide to get back out there, please travel responsibly.