2020 has been a year of firsts, and it doesn't seem like that will let up before the new year. Holiday travel will look especially different from years prior. By focusing on social distancing, staying up to date on COVID-19 data and getting creative with destinations that might not be top of mind but are still fun, you can break out of quarantine cabin fever and safely explore the world.
Domestic travel, by nature, is much simpler for those looking to leave home this holiday season. With the mercurial flux of COVID cases, up-to-date travel info is a must. Accurate, week-by-week data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that as of October, nearly all states were experiencing yet another rise in confirmed cases, with some states' infection rate worse than the initial outbreak in February and March. States with the lowest new cases include Oregon, Wyoming, Alaska, New Mexico, Hawaii and the northeastern states of Delaware, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.
Though popular wintertime locales such as ski resorts will be closed, boutique towns and nature-based activities in more outdoorsy states make for a wonderful getaway. The Airbnb Global Head of Hosting Catherine Powell announced in a recent virtual press conference that Airbnb implemented even more strict precautions for COVID-19 reduction and enforced a slew of new cleaning measures starting Oct. 12. So, whether you head up north or out west, your cabin in the woods will be completely sanitized. And you can visit the Airbnb website for additional COVID updates.
For those seeking international travel, the logistics can be a little more complicated, but several destinations aren't entirely out of the question. Many countries have closed their borders to nonessential international travel, with some specifically excluding U.S. citizens, but other countries such as Panama are working their way toward normalcy. Panama Tourism Promotion Fund Chairman Fernando Duque announced that as of Oct. 12, there are no international travel restrictions to Panama. This update is backed by a very comprehensive travel reopening guide on the VisitPanama website. Panama is known for its crystal-clear water, luxurious beaches, lush forests, and historic cities filled with rich culture and nightlife. Katherine Fan, writing for The Points Guy travel website, cites more than 44 international routes to Panama available through partnering countries, so it's not too hard to get there, either.
At this writing, the U.K. plans to introduce COVID-19 testing for international arrivals starting in November. According to the Guardian, this testing plan might change the travel restrictions for U.S. citizens. Currently, arrivals from many countries are required to self-isolate for 14 days when they enter the U.K. Shapps says the government is moving ahead with plans to reduce that isolation period. This could make holiday travel to England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales much more viable.
A handful of other countries including Fiji, Cambodia and Grenada have a Level 2 ("Exercise Increased Caution") State Department travel advisory, but the data is changing so quickly that it becomes a roll of the dice. Weigh your options; stay plugged into the news and State Department advisories; and always consider a virtual trip from home might be most appropriate. Travelers are always looking to explore new ways of life, so think positively and do your best to enjoy this uncommon experience.