Spring break is on the horizon for millions of students across the U.S. And, although COVID-19 cases are down, it’s still important to get tested before you travel – and not just for your health. We spoke to Dr. Jesse Greer, an internal medicine physician and founder of Saguaro Bloom Diagnostics about COVID-19 testing, traveling over spring break and the safest ways to travel.

Why it’s important to get tested before you travel

One of the most obvious and important reasons to get tested for COVID-19 is to make sure that you don’t spread the virus to your loved ones. There is also a risk of unknowingly being the source of a new outbreak in the place that you’re traveling to. 

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Another reason to get tested is that it may be required. “I think for the most part, especially if you want to travel internationally, it’s currently required for a lot of places,” Greer says. 

As Greer also points out, “Some countries require that you quarantine when you’re showing up,” he explains. “Sometimes there are places where you’re going to need an actual app on your phone that has verified vaccination or testing information that you use to get into places. 

There are many online sites that have gathered the COVID-19 safety requirements that countries require when traveling. One such site is Greer’s website. To ensure you’re prepared, Greer recommends checking the testing guidelines of your destination before your trip. 

Where to get tested

Greer advises avoiding big box stores such as CVS or Walgreens because it can be hard to get access to information about your test if the results are delayed. You may also consider somewhere that can provide you with a “fit-to-travel” document along with your test results.

“[Big box stores] can’t tell you where your test is and there’s no one to talk to when your test is delayed a few days,” Greer says. “Make sure you get tested at a place that can provide you a fit-to-travel document and that can also have the results uploaded to your phone digitally so you can use the information in common applications and passes.”

Safe ways to travel

According to Greer, air travel is a safe way to travel during the pandemic. Overall, as long as you take the right precautions, any form of travel is relatively safe. “Anytime you’re wearing the right mask and following all the precautions I think it’s going to be very safe,” he says.

Are spring break travelers at a higher risk?

Greer said that it’s hard to tell what this spring break will look like, but there are usually small upticks in cases a few weeks after periods of common travel.

“During spring break — and other times like it — there are always these lagging spikes in COVID-19 cases,” Greer says, “so I think that kind of means yes, but whether people catch the virus from planes or trains or from their family or friends when they’re on vacation is difficult to determine.”

By following all the precautions and getting tested before and after your trip, you can help make sure that this spring break is fun and safe for everyone!