Yes, you have my permission to travel*

It's time to hit the road — but not everyone should

You have my permission to travel again. But some restrictions apply.

Five months ago, I urged you to stay home. COVID-19 cases were surging, and the outlook was bleak. And yet some parts of the travel industry acted as if nothing was wrong.

All that has changed.

Cases have dropped. Vaccines are being distributed. And the CDC just revised its travel guidelines. But there are important exceptions — and there are exceptions to the exceptions.

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🎧 EXTRAListen to the podcast version of this commentary.

COVID-19 cases are headed down — mostly

Coronavirus cases are on a downward trajectory. They've rebounded slightly in the last week, but I hope we're seeing a 'dead cat bounce' on Wall Street — a temporary bump. Roughly 18 percent of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated.

This is what it should look like once enough folks are vaccinated. It's Israel's daily new case chart. Israel has vaccinated more than half of its population:

Or Gibraltar. Almost everyone there has received the vaccine.

But I digress.

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Why I've changed my mind about a travel ban

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revised its travel guidelines. Noting that fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19, it said anyone inoculated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can "travel safely within the United States."

According to the CDC:

  • Vaccinated travelers don't need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it.

  • They don't need to self-quarantine.

  • They should still follow the CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely. That includes masking up, social distancing and frequent hand washing.

The government still recommends that anyone who isn't fully vaccinated should avoid travel.

I agree with the CDC. But I have my own reasons for giving the "all clear." There's no credible evidence that vaccinated people are spreading the virus. I don't know what else you can do to ensure safety. 

And we have all been locked down for more than a year now. It's really time to resume traveling.

* About those exceptions ...

I can't give everyone my permission to travel. So here are the people who should continue to avoid travel:

If you're not fully vaccinated

If you can't — or won't — get vaccinated, then you should stay home and wait for us to achieve herd immunity. Even then, I would strongly recommend getting vaccinated.

If you're recovering from COVID-19

If you've been exposed to COVID-19, or are sick, or you test positive for COVID-19, cancel your travel plans. Also, don't go anywhere if you're waiting for results of a COVID-19 test.

If you're between shots

Wait until you're two weeks past your second shot before making a trip.

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And yes, there are exceptions to the exceptions

Here are some frequently asked questions about traveling after the travel ban:

If I'm vaccinated but my kids are too young, can I still travel?

None of the vaccines are approved for children under 16. But according to the CDC, children may have less severe illness from COVID-19 compared to adults. So if you want to take a summer vacation with your kids, you can go. But bear in mind that children could still become infected, and perhaps transmit the virus to more vulnerable adults.

If I'm vaccinated but my parents aren't, can I visit them?

No. Wait until your parents are vaccinated. If they refuse to get vaccinated, then wait until herd immunity is established. There's still a chance you could infect your parents.

If I'm vaccinated, can I visit my unvaccinated grandkids?

If you have grandchildren who are too young to receive the vaccine, then yes. But if they are older or at risk, it's safer to wait.

If I've had COVID-19 in the past 3 months, can I travel?

Yes. The rules for vaccinated travelers also apply to you. But that could change any time as we discover more about the virus.

I'm on my way

This isn't a theoretical discussion for me. The lease on my place in Sedona, Ariz., runs out next week and I'm hitting the road. (I extended our stay several times until it was no longer possible.) We plan to make a slow, counterclockwise loop around the country, returning to Arizona this fall before heading overseas.

I'm more than a month past my second shot. Both my boys (ages 16 and 18) are due for their second shot next week. My daughter, 14, is not vaccinated yet.

I would have liked to wait until everyone had the vaccine. But my daughter doesn't qualify for a vaccine yet.

I feel we've been as responsible as possible. We originally wanted to start traveling again in November, but then the second wave happened. We've been in Sedona for seven months, waiting patiently for a green light from the CDC. 

Last week, we finally got it. 

I'm interested in your thoughts. Do you think it's safe to travel now? Why or why not? If you're not going anywhere, what will make you feel safe? And if you are going somewhere, please tell us where you're going.