To Travel or Not to Travel: The Great Holiday Debate of 2021

Manhattan in winter. Photo Courtesy: AlpamayoPhoto/iStock

I finally did it. I mustered up the courage to book my first leisure trip since 2019. Technically it won’t be my first trip since the pandemic hit — I told you about my two weeks in Barcelona and the Catalan coast this summer, but that was a family visit. It sure helped me relax and unwind though.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still recommending that you do not travel to international destinations with very high levels (Level 4) of COVID-19, and advises you to be fully vaccinated before heading to countries with high levels (Level 3) of COVID-19 cases — you can check travel recommendations by destination on the CDC’s site. But the agency says you can travel safely within the U.S. if you are fully vaccinated. Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation.

I wasn’t feeling like braving a long international flight that’s against CDC guidelines, but the idea of celebrating Friendsgiving with a small group of friends in New York City — my friends actually live there, I’ll travel from Oakland with my husband — suddenly feels feasible and even not so much of a terrible or irresponsible idea.

I’m aware that air travel increases the risk of getting COVID-19 and plan on flying double-masked with a cloth mask on top of a disposable one. Fortunately, COVID cases are decreasing and we are no longer at the peak of hospitalizations, which were driven by the Delta variant during August and September. If you too are thinking a much-deserved escape is the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving and the holiday season this year, bear in mind these suggestions.