A Compassionate Guide to Traveling During a Pandemic

Holiday travel jitters? Don’t worry. Read this.

Nneka M. Okona
ZORA
Published in
4 min readNov 19, 2020

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Black woman looking out the window of her car from the driver seat.
Photo: wundervisuals/Getty Images

As the proverbial saying goes, the “most wonderful time of year” has once again arrived. Though this year, the holidays underscore poignant and painful realities — chiefly, how this year has been one of devastation, grief, and loss due to a pandemic that continues to take Black and Brown lives. The depth of the collective loss and grief we are all feeling from the happenings of this year is yet to be fully known. As we all hold a multitude of emotions, some of us are hoping to reach for the familiarity of holiday traditions as a healing balm. But traveling during a pandemic has its inherent risks — namely that of exposure.

This guide is intended to be an honest and compassionate instructive to traveling during this holiday season with safety and caution. Let wisdom, logic, science, and careful intention be your guiding force.

Consider a road trip instead of flying

A Department of Defense study asserted Covid-19 exposure was “virtually nonexistent” for air travel. Air carriers have implemented enhanced cleaning protocols and reiterated that their HEPA filters circulate clean air every few minutes. Masks are mandated in-flight. Some air carriers have limited flight capacity and blocked off middle seats. What none of these measures take into account is that masks can be removed while eating and drinking in-flight, thus possibly putting you at risk of exposure from a nearby seatmate.

Err on the side of caution and consider driving instead. Make it fun and turn it into a road trip venturing through cities and towns you’ve never seen. Load up a playlist with songs, or queue up podcasts or audiobooks to listen to. Plan ahead where you will stop for bathroom breaks; a pro-tip is that rest stops tend to be cleaner than gas stations.

This year may be unprecedented, but there are inventive ways to connect and not feel alone — whether you travel or not.

Get tested often

Protect yourself and those you might come into contact with once you travel by getting tested. Depending on…

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Nneka M. Okona
ZORA
Writer for

Heart-centered writer writing about travel, food, personal growth and self-discovery.