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COVID-Safe Travel Tips From a Globe-Trotting Doctor

For the first time in 30 years, Dr. Carl Hughes doesn’t have any travel planned. The internal medicine doctor, who practices at Tryon Medical Partners Pineville, has 50 countries logged on his passport, but COVID-19 has brought any plans to expand that count to a halt.

“International travel is going to be very iffy this year and I’m hesitant to plan something until things have changed with the coronavirus epidemic,” Hughes said. 

Though his international travel is paused, what Hughes cannot pause are his passions for taking in new experiences, cuisines and historic sites. 

“I think travel helps make anyone appreciate all of our wonderful differences and similarities, and hopefully makes me a better physician,” he said.

To continue traveling safely, consider these tips from Dr. Hughes that he’ll be using himself to stay active this summer:

Hop in the Car

There’s a false impression that flights are wide open, Hughes says, as demand for air travel has plummeted. Rather than leaving seats open, the airline industry has consolidated flights and many are fairly full. 

“Don’t expect to have a row to yourself and to be able to socially distance safely. If you want to be safe, drive and save the long-haul flights for next year.” 

By taking a car trip, you are able to stay in close proximity to just your family, the people you’ve already been with during quarantine and social distancing. Even then, don’t forget masks and hand sanitizer when you’re packing. 

There are guaranteed to be stops along the way and maintaining social distance, wearing a mask and washing your hands are still the best ways to stay well. Read up on mask best practices before you hit the road to make sure you’re packing masks made from the best materials and wearing them properly. 

Consider Your Accommodations

Hotels and motels are common travel accommodations but, by design, you’re staying in close proximity to others. Just getting in and out of your room and using an elevator make social distancing difficult. 

Consider a rental property with a private entrance. You can even choose accommodations that allow self-check-in, completely bypassing the need to be in close quarters with people outside your family.  

Get Back to Nature

“This is the year of local American travel,” Hughes says, and there’s no better way to socially distance than by choosing a camping vacation. Trade in the museum for a national park.

Even if setting up a tent and lighting a campfire isn’t your idea of relaxation, there are other ways to enjoy a nature vacation. Renting an RV or choosing a campsite that offers cabins allows you to get off the beaten path without giving up running water and a bed.   

Whatever vacation you plan, Dr. Hughes says continuing the best practices you’ve adopted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic are key to staying healthy: wash your hands and maintain social distancing. Your trusted primary care physician can always answer any additional questions about your health concerns and are even available for virtual visits when you’re away from home.