6 tips for healthy summer travel

With summer travel on pace to return to pre-pandemic levels this year, Dr. Paul Pottinger, a professor of medicine and allergy and infectious diseases at the University of Washington School of Medicine, says early planning and discipline can keep upcoming vacations safe and healthy.

Before your trip:

1. Understand the public health circumstances of your destination.  Stay informed, and not just on current COVID-19 trends. Pottinger says international travelers should do their homework on other viruses circulating at their destination, such as malaria or yellow fever.

2. Create a plan with a healthcare provider, for instance, to ensure you have an ample supply of prescription medications and can cover any travel-specific health needs you might have.  Pottinger says checking this box early is very helpful.  Another suggestion: Set smartphone alarms to ensure you’ll stay on your medication schedule while away.

3. Get on the same page with your travel mates. “Figure out what are people going to be comfortable with when it comes to masking indoors around strangers, when it comes to transportation, getting around town,” Pottinger.said.  “If everyone has the same mental model, then it will be a smooth trip.”

During your trip:

4. Stay in the loop:  Pottinger understands unplugging is part of the motivation to get away, but staying informed on COVID-19 trends and taking familiar preventive measures (such as masking in crowded indoor spaces and being current on vaccine boosters) can help keep the tcoronavirus at bay.

5. Keep your promises. Stay true to the plan you set with a healthcare provider and the intentions you set with your travel mates.  

After your trip:

6. Watch for residual signs of infection.  “Just because the vacation is over doesn't mean that the germs are done working,” Pottinger said. Watch for common symptoms of a respiratory illness after returning home, and if you feel ill, take a COVID-19 antigen test and schedule a clinical checkup.

Download broadcast-ready soundbites featuring Pottinger's summer travel tips and more helpful details.

UW Medicine