Travel Medicine Services

Domestic and International Travel Tips During COVID-19 Mini-Playbook

The expert physicians at the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine and Global Health are often sought after for advice regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Roe Green Center has put together a mini-playbook to help individuals and organizations safely return to travel.


Do you or your organization need travel guidance or corporate services? Email Mike Solarz, Roe Green Program Manager, with questions.

Last Updated: September 20, 2021

Domestic Travel for Fully Vaccinated Travelers

Wear Masks During Travel

Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on all forms of public transportation in the United States.

Wear Masks in Crowded Outdoor Settings

In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities that involve close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.

Self-Monitor After Travel

After you’ve travelled, self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. Isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.


Domestic Travel for Non-Vaccinated Travelers

Before you travel:

Get tested with a viral test 1 to 3 days before the trip.

While you are traveling:

  • Wear a mask on all forms of public transportation and when car sharing with colleagues.
  • Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.

After you travel:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3 to 5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
Domestic Travel
Recommendations and Requirements
Not Vaccinated Fully Vaccinated
Get tested 1-3 days before travel Yes
Yes
No
No
Get tested 3-5 days after travel and self-quarantine for 7 days. Self-quarantine for 10 days if you don't get tested. Yes
Yes
No
No
Self-monitor for symptoms Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Wear a mask and take other precautions during travel Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

CDC Guidance suggests delaying all domestic travel until individuals are fully vaccinated.

International Travel for Fully Vaccinated Travelers

Even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants, so a risk-based approach to travel should be utilized.

Before you travel:

  • Fully vaccinated individuals don’t need to get tested prior to departure (unless their destination requires a test).
  • Make sure you understand your destination requirements regarding travel, testing and quarantining.

Learn More +

  • All international travelers should monitor the COVID-19 situation in their destination, utilizing the CDC COVID-19 Travel by Destination webpage.
    • Understand if you need a negative COVID test and/or a proof of vaccination as well as the steps that must be taken to share that information with your destination country.
    • The destination requirements may change often, so monitor diligently.
  • Also, consider enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for your destination. You will be able to receive safety and security guidance from your local embassy.

While you are traveling:

  • Wear a mask on all forms of public transportation and when car sharing with colleagues.
  • Follow all recommendations at your destination on mask wearing and distancing.
  • In areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases, wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings and when in close contact with unvaccinated individuals.

Prior to returning to the United States:

All air passengers coming to the U.S., including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 viral test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months prior to their flight.

After travel:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel.

International Travel for Non-Vaccinated Travelers

The CDC urges all individuals who are not vaccinated to avoid international travel. However, if you must travel then you should:

Before you travel:

  • Get tested with a viral test 1 to 3 days before the trip.
  • Make sure you understand your destination requirements regarding travel, testing and quarantining.

Learn More +

  • All international travelers should monitor the COVID-19 situation in their destination, utilizing the CDC COVID-19 Travel by Destination webpage.
    • Understand if you need a negative COVID test and/or a proof of vaccination as well as the steps that must be taken to share that information with your destination country.
    • The destination requirements may change often, so monitor diligently.
  • Also, consider enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for your destination. You will be able to receive safety and security guidance from your local embassy.

While you are traveling:

  • Wear a mask on all forms of public transportation and when car sharing with colleagues.
  • Avoid crowds. Social distance from anyone who is not traveling with you.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Wear a mask and maintain physical distance when traveling.

Prior to returning to the United States:

All air passengers coming to the U.S., including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 viral test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months prior to their flight.

After you travel:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3 to 5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
International Travel
Recommendations and Requirements
Not Vaccinated Fully Vaccinated
Get tested 1-3 days before traveling out of the U.S. Yes
Yes
No
No
Mandatory test required before flying to the U.S. Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Get tested 3-5 days after travel Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Self-quarantine after travel for 7 days with a negative test or 10 days without test Yes
Yes
No
No
Self-monitor for symptoms Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Wear a mask and take other precautions during travel Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

CDC Recommendations:

  • Fully vaccinated individuals (having a final vaccination dose for at least two weeks) can resume activities they did prior to the pandemic.
  • Given the highly transmissible Delta variant, even vaccinated individuals are encouraged to wear masks in the following circumstances:
    • Indoors, in public, if you are in an area of high transmission
    • If you have a weakened immune system or are at increased risk for severe disease regardless of area transmission rate.
    • If someone in your household is at increased risk for severe disease or is unvaccinated regardless of area transmission rate.
  • Continue to monitor the situation closely and regularly.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand the travel protocols prior to, during and after your trip.
  • Realize that protocols differ between domestic and international travel, with more robust standards in place for international travel.
  • Guidance varies based upon whether you are vaccinated or not: fully vaccinated individuals are at lower risk and, as a result, don’t need to adhere to as many protocols.
  • If travelling internationally, review the most up-to-date COVID-19 information for your destination.
  • As new variants are introduced and more research is conducted, the guidance is changing rapidly, so continue to monitor.

Next Steps:

1
Get Vaccinated

Encourage your family, friends and colleagues to get vaccinated to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

2
Monitor for Updates

Monitor University Hospitals’ and CDC guidance regularly for updates as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

3
UH is Here to Help

UH offers consultative and advisory services to help your organization navigate re-opening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reach out to Mike Solarz, UH Roe Green Program Manager, with any questions.

This information is intended for informational and educational purposes only. This information should not be used as a replacement for medical or legal advice. Employers and individuals are solely responsible for complying with all applicable legal requirements and making decisions regarding themselves, their operations, and employees based upon their individual circumstances. What each individual and employer does is specific to its needs and facts and circumstances. Please contact us directly if you are looking for specific advice.

Adherence to any recommendations included on this webpage will not ensure successful results in every situation. Furthermore, the recommendations contained on this website should not be interpreted as setting a standard of care or be deemed inclusive of all proper methods of operations. There is no guarantee that following all these recommendations will prevent or reduce transmission of COVID-19.

As understanding of COVID-19 and applicable guidelines are changing quickly, the information on this webpage is current as of the last update. Although this content was reviewed and approved by healthcare professionals, UH does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any of this information or that it represents the most up-to-date information and UH is not responsible for any errors or omissions or actions taken in reliance or from use of such information. By accessing this information, you understand and acknowledge that use of the information within involves certain inherent risks, and that University Hospitals does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information within and assumes no responsibility or liability for any illness, injury, or damage to persons or property, including death, arising out of or related to any use of this information. You agree to hold University Health System, Inc. and any of its affiliates or subsidiaries, its directors, officers, partners, agents, representatives, employees, organizers, and sponsors (“Parties”), harmless from and against all liabilities, suits, damages, losses, and charges arising from or in connection to your use or your business’s use of the information within.