Domestic Travel Safety Guide

If you have questions regarding the information below, please contact USC Environmental Health & Safety

As of now, domestic travel is strongly discouraged, but we understand that travel may be necessary at times. COVID-19 cases and deaths have been reported in all 50 states, and the situation is constantly changing. Traveling increases your chances of infection and subsequent transmission of COVID-19. Therefore, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick.

If you are thinking about traveling away from your local community, consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you’re going?
    • You can get infected in the course of traveling.
  • Is COVID-19 spreading in your community?  
    • Even if you are asymptomatic, you can spread COVID-19 to others while traveling.
  • Will you or those you are traveling with be within 6 feet of others during or after your trip?
    • Being within 6 feet of others increases your chances of getting infected and infecting others.
  • Are you or those you are traveling with more likely to get very ill from COVID-19?
    • Individuals who have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should limit their travel.
  • Do you live with someone who is more likely to get very ill from COVID-19?
    • If you get infected while traveling, you can spread COVID-19 to loved ones when you return, even if you do not have symptoms.
  • Does the state or local government where you live or at your destination require you to quarantine for 14 days after traveling?
    • Some state and local governments may require people who have recently traveled to quarantine for 14 days.
  • If you get sick with COVID-19, will you have to miss work or school?

Do not travel if you are sick, experiencing symptoms indicative of COVID-19 or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Do not travel with someone who is sick or experiencing symptoms indicative of COVID-19.

If you choose to travel, protect yourself and others during your trip by doing the following:

  • Clean your hands often.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, after touching surfaces frequently touched by others, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and before touching your face or eating/drinking.
    • If soap and water are not available, bring and use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands, and rub your hands together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with others.
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Choose not to dine-in at restaurants, and opt to pick up food via drive-throughs, curbside restaurant service, or stores instead.

Considerations for Types of Travel

Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. We do not know if one type of travel is safer than others; however, airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces. These are also places where it can be hard to stay physically distanced (6 feet apart from other people).

Consider the following risks depending on how you travel:

  • Air travel
    • This requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can put you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces.
    • Social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within 6 feet), sometimes for hours.
    • Do note that most viruses do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.
  • Bus or train travel
    • Social distancing is difficult, and traveling on buses and trains for any length of time can involve sitting or standing within 6 feet of others for long periods of time (>15 minutes).
  • Car travel
    • Making stops along the way for gas, food, or bathroom breaks can put you and your traveling companions in close contact with other people and surfaces.
  • RV travel
    • This typically requires staying at RV parks overnight and involves getting gas and supplies in public places, which may put you and your travel companions in close contact with other people and surfaces.

Anticipate Travel Needs

  • Bring enough of your medicine to last you for the entire trip.
  • Pack enough alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and store it in an accessible area.
  • Bring cloth face coverings to wear in public places. Bring a clean covering for each day. 
  • Prepare food and water for your trip. 
    • Pack non-perishable food in case restaurants and stores are closed.
  • Take steps to protect yourself from COVID-19 when booking accommodations or planning an overnight stay.
  • If you are considering cleaning your travel lodgings, see the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance on how to clean and disinfect.

State and Local Travel Restrictions

  • Follow state and local travel restrictions. For up-to-date information and travel guidance, check the state or local health department where you are located, along your route, and at your planned destination. 
  • While you are traveling, it is possible that a state or local government may put travel restrictions into place, such as stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, mandated quarantines upon arrival, or even state border closures. Plan to check for updates as you travel.

View additional travel resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).