Summer vacation is looking a lot different due to new travel restrictions.  Traveling during a pandemic requires planning ahead, lots of advanced research, willingness to play-it-by-ear and adapting to new rules. You may be asking yourself… Is it safe to go on vacation? Where should I go? Should I drive or fly? Can I vacation with friends and family? The answers to these questions will be different for everyone.

For some, it may be best to stay at home this summer and skip a vacation.  Others are choosing to still go on vacation even though it may look very different. I do not think there is a right or wrong answer, you just want to make sure you are staying safe. Do what’s comfortable for you!

If you do decide that you are going to go on vacation, it is important to research where you want to go and see what restrictions they may have. Many states are requiring you to self-quarantine when you arrive. Additionally, many states are also requiring you to self-quarantine when you return home from your vacation destination.  If you are unsure of the travel restrictions where you live or where you are thinking about traveling check the AARP’s list of Coronavirus-Related Restrictions in Every State or CNN’s breakdown of state travel restrictions.

If you have made the decision to travel, there are a few things to think about while planning your trip. I have included some tips on how to plan a “safecation”:

  • Choose a destination where the number of COVID cases is decreasing.
  • Choose a destination where you can social distance.
  • If you are flying – check airline policies and procedures to ensure they meet your safety expectations.
  • Try to pick airplane seats that aren’t directly next to someone else
  • If you are driving, pack hand sanitizer, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, and masks.
  • If you are driving, preplan your restroom stops. Many places are closed.
  • Try to stop the least amount of time as possible and touch as little as possible at each stop…wash your hands.
  • Sanitize your hands when you get back in your car.
  • Pack your own food for the trip.
  • Only stop when necessary.
  • If you are staying in a hotel, wipe down all surfaces regularly especially surfaces such as remotes, light switches, door handles, refrigerator doors, etc.
  • Pack your own sheets/linens/pillows.
  • Limit your time in shared spaces and always wear your mask in shared spaces.
  • If you are visiting friends or family, assess the risk.
  • If you are staying with friends or family, you should consider making a pre-vacation quarantine plan.
  • Consider limiting activity outside the home in the two weeks leading up to your visit.
  • Discuss getting COVID tested prior to your trip.
  • If you are going to the beach, avoid high traffic areas such as the boardwalk and indoor dining.
  • Bring your own chairs, towels, umbrellas, etc.

For cancer survivors, many of these same rules have applied for years, so much of this is not new. Practice social distancing, try to stay outdoors, avoid touching your face, wash your hands, and stay home if you have a temperature or if you have symptoms.  No matter what you decide to do this year, in terms of a vacation, the most important thing is to remember to be safe and only do what you feel comfortable doing!

Courtney is a Radiation Therapist at Penn Medicine in the Department of Radiation Oncology.  She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Radiation Therapy from Indiana University, and received her Master’s Degree in Public Health with concentrations in Health Management and Policy and Health Education and Promotion from Benedictine University.  She has fourteen years of experience in radiation therapy, which includes an expertise in proton therapy and pediatrics.  Courtney has worked with OncoLink since 2014, but joined part-time in 2020 as a Global Education Coordinator and is currently developing virtual reality training modules that have been used to train radiation therapists both domestically and internationally.