One of the perks of getting older is having more time to devote to recreation and traveling.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are roughly 52 million people who are age 65 or older in the United States. With a $1.6 trillion total net worth, seniors spend more on groceries, pharmaceutical items and travel and leisure than any other demographic.

Age does not have to restrict one’s ability to travel, and with age comes experience and more opportunities to enjoy travel. Before taking off for parts unknown, men and women over 50 can take steps to ensure their excursions are as safe as they are memorable.

1. Consider risk. The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 taught the world that situations can change rapidly. Before booking any travel, weigh the risks and the benefits of a trip. Determine if COVID-19 is spreading where you live or at your destination. Older adults have a higher risk for severe illness caused by the virus. Until you are vaccinated, it may be best to wait to travel.

2. Use senior-friendly services. Seek out travel services that offer the best perks for older adults. Many travel providers no longer offer senior discounts, but they may offer other benefits, such as early boarding or assistance with traveling from gates to baggage areas.

3. Get travel insurance. According to Liz Dahl, cofounder of Boomer Travel Patrol, a website featuring expert advice geared toward the Baby Boomer demographic, travel insurance can be essential for older travelers. Older travelers may be more at risk of falling or getting sick and some may need extra medication if travel is interrupted or delayed. Travel insurance can provide extra coverage for a relatively low price if something goes wrong.

4. Don’t advertise your absence. It may be tempting to upload photos of your beachside vacation to social media as you are immersed in paradise. Unfortunately, seniors tend to be targets for thieves because they are seen as vulnerable. Don’t make the job easier by advertising you are away from home. In addition, have a neighbor periodically pick up your mail and set lights on timers to give the impression you are home even when you’re not.

5. Share your itinerary. Keep loved ones apprised of your general travel itinerary, especially if you are traveling solo, recommends AARP. Keep a mobile phone on you at all times.

6. Pack copies of important documents. In the event paperwork is lost while traveling, request copies of prescriptions and/or statements of medical conditions from each physician and medical treatment center so you have a second set. Keep copies of your passport, driver’s license, insurance cards, travel tickets, and other documents as well.

Seniors have the ability to travel much more than other age groups. Make the experience enjoyable by focusing on safety.

By David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Biden administration is forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to determine how best to safely restart travel after 15 months of pandemic restrictions, a White House official said on Tuesday.

Another U.S. official said the administration will not move quickly to lift orders that bar people from much of the world from entering the United States because of the time it will take for the groups to do their work. The White House informed airlines and others in the travel industry about the groups, the official said.

“While we are not reopening travel today, we hope that these expert working groups will help us use our collective expertise to chart a path forward, with a goal of reopening international travel with our key partners when it is determined that it is safe to do so,” the White House official said, adding “any decisions will be fully guided by the objective analysis and recommendations by public health and medical experts.”

The groups will be led by the White House COVID Response Team and the National Security Council and include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other U.S. agencies.

The CDC said on Tuesday it was easing travel recommendations on 110 countries and territories, including Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Africa and Iran, but has declined to lift any COVID-19 travel restrictions.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the U.S. travel restrictions in place since 2020 are subject to “an interagency conversation, and we are looking at the data in real time as to how we should move forward with that.”

The Biden administration has faced pressure from some lawmakers who said U.S. communities along the Canadian border have faced economic hardship because of land border restrictions.

Airlines and others have pressed the administration to lift the restrictions that prevent most non-U.S. citizens who have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil from traveling to the United States. The United States also bars most non-essential travel at its land borders with Mexico and Canada.

Airlines for America, a trade group representing American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and others, praised the working groups but the group believes “these working groups should act quickly to endorse a policy backed by science that will allow travelers who are fully vaccinated to travel to the U.S. Quickly is the key – we believe the science is there.”

United Airlines said it was encouraged the White House was prioritizing a plan to reopen air travel to international markets and requested urgency, given the typically busy impending summer travel season. “Now is the time to implement a reopening strategy for the benefit of both the economy and the traveling public.”

On Monday, the heads of all passenger airlines flying between Britain and the United States called on both countries to lift limits on

As vaccination rates inch upward , Americans are beginning to travel again. More than 10 times as many passengers passed through Transportation Security Administration screenings in the first week of April compared with the same period last year, a sign that some degree of normalcy is returning.

And travel this summer could get far busier.

“Right now, we’re still awash in cheap summer flights,” says Scott Keyes , founder of travel deals newsletter Scott’s Cheap Flights. “But with vaccinations accelerating quickly and interest in travel spiking, cheap summer flights may not be available much longer.”

Yet the question of whether it’s safe to travel remains. Infection rates remain high , despite accelerating vaccination efforts . Even vaccinated individuals are realizing that they may not be in the clear to return to life — and travel — as normal.

HOW TO TRAVEL SAFELY

Getting fully vaccinated is the first step toward travel safety, but it’s not the last. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued updated guidelines for vaccinated travelers, giving the go-ahead to domestic travel. Yet it still recommends following the familiar protective protocols: wearing a mask, maintaining social distance and avoiding crowds.

“Even with a vaccine, the fundamentals of COVID-19 still apply,” Dr. Jessica Shepherd, chief medical officer of Verywell, an online health website, said in an email. “With travel, only the scenery changes, not the reality. As we move towards more of a normal life, it is important to approach it carefully rather than abruptly in lifestyle changes .”

If the CDC recommends maintaining social distance, is it safe to fly at all?

“This risk of transmission in airplanes is relatively low as the airflow in current jet airliners is much faster than normal indoor buildings and half of it is fresh air from outside,” she said.

HOW TO TRAVEL CHEAPLY

Although many factors will affect the cost of your potential vacation, one looms especially large: timing.

“I’d start booking as soon as possible,” says Matthew Kepnes, founder of Nomadic Matt, a budget travel website . “There’s a lot of deals out there right now, but they won’t last long … so my advice is to book soon.”

This strategy also takes advantage of a seismic shift in airline policies.

“Many travelers may have missed the fact that all full-service U.S. airlines have permanently gotten rid of change fees if you book a ticket in main economy, premium economy or business/first class,” Keyes says.

Aside from basic economy, most fares are now far more flexible than before the pandemic. This creates an incentive to book sooner, then rebook if plans fall through.

Experts also recommend looking for deals, rather than trying to travel to popular (and expensive) destinations. Average airfares might rise, but deals will remain if you hunt for them.

Then, there are always travel rewards, which have been piling up in many accounts throughout the pandemic and can offset the costs of travel — but only if you use them.

WHERE TO TRAVEL

Before

Acquiring Covid-19 naturally leads to developing antibodies that recognize and fight off the virus when they see it again. If you’ve been re-exposed, “those people have really, truly robust immune systems,” said Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco. That may not be measurable with antibodies, which wane after several months. But when the T cells and B cells in your immune system are stimulated, Rutherford says, “all the memory comes back right away.”

Rutherford, like Russo, is concerned about the variants. “The question for me about this long-term immunity stuff is not how long it lasts,” Rutherford said, “but how specific it needs to be for these different strains.”






Pandemic Lessons Airport

David Flint, of Buffalo, waits for his flight at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga Saturday, April 24, 2021. 




How safe are airplanes and other modes of travel?

The air inside airplanes is quite clean: It’s heavily filtered and regularly replaced, much like the air in an operating room. When I was flying, I took the advice of Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist, and turned on the vent above my seat. “The more ventilation you can introduce into your space, the better,” she told me in an interview late last year.

Rasmussen, and other experts I’ve interviewed, also warned me to be cautious of the crowding that tends to happen during air travel. While sitting in your seat, mask on, is likely safe because of the powerful air filtration, the cramming of bodies that tends to happen when people enter and exit the plane can make you a bit more vulnerable. This is where maintaining distance however you can – including letting the crowd go by while you wait for some space – is helpful. So is wearing a good mask.

(CNN) — Would-be travelers are crooning a new theme song: “Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away.”

In the European Union, the UK and other corners of the globe, officials are currently considering ways to restart international travel this summer.

When that occurs, cinch up your seat belt — traveler numbers will soar.

Is it truly safe to travel by air right now, even if you’re fully vaccinated?

Travelers arrive for flights at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on March 16, 2021. US airports are seeing pandemic-era record numbers of passengers.

Travelers arrive for flights at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on March 16, 2021. US airports are seeing pandemic-era record numbers of passengers.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Case count, masks and ventilation are key

“There are three factors to consider,” said Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, who studies the airborne transmission of Covid-19.

“How prevalent is the virus in the population? If it’s highly prevalent, then there’s a good chance that someone who is infected is going to be on a plane,” Marr said.

Why does that matter if you’re vaccinated? “We’re still learning how effective the vaccines are against variants of the virus,” the CDC said recently, as well as “how long COVID-19 vaccines can protect people.”
“Is everyone masked? That’s also very important,” said Marr, who is world renowned for her 2011 discovery that influenza can hover in air for an hour via respiratory microscopic droplets called aerosols.
Wearing a mask onboard is still important for both vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers.

Wearing a mask onboard is still important for both vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers.

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

“Vaccinated people could potentially still get COVID-19 and spread it to others,” according to the CDC, as respiratory droplets fall onto surfaces or float in the air. “We’re still learning how well COVID-19 vaccines keep people from spreading the disease,” the agency added.
Early in the pandemic, according to a CDC investigation, an unmasked passenger with no symptoms infected 12 fellow business class travelers, two people seated in economy and one crew member on a 10-hour international flight.
“The risk for on-board transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during long flights is real,” the CDC investigation stated. “Long flights not only can lead to importation of COVID-19 cases but also can provide conditions for superspreader events.”
Still, a Harvard University report released last October concluded the risk of catching Covid-19 on an airplane is rare, as long as people are masked, the airport uses safety precautions and the planes have installed HEPA, or “high efficiency particulate air” filters. The HEPA filters are rated to remove 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and other airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns. Covid-19 is thought to be between 0.06 to 1.4 microns.

Which brings Linsey Marr to her third point: “Finally, air travel safety could be improved if airlines and manufacturers install and use HEPA filters properly in more planes. Proper filtration is a key to safe air travel.”

Large commercial airliners use HEPA air filters, which reduce passengers' risk of infection.

Large commercial airliners use HEPA air filters, which reduce passengers’ risk of infection.

Mario Tama/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

Not all planes have HEPA filters

All large commercial

People who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus can travel safely in the U.S. without getting tested or self-quarantining, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday. 

However, travelers should still continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands, whether they are fully vaccinated or not, according to the agency

The CDC updated its travel guidance on Friday, saying: “Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19.” The agency did say that if a destination requires testing, fully vaccinated travelers would still need to adhere to the destination’s requirements.

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Fully vaccinated travelers should also still continue to self-monitor for coronavirus symptoms, self-isolate if they develop such symptoms, and follow all state and local requirements, the CDC says.

People who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus can now safely travel in the U.S. without self-quarantining or getting tested, the CDC said Friday. (iStock)​​​​​

People who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus can now safely travel in the U.S. without self-quarantining or getting tested, the CDC said Friday. (iStock)​​​​​

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after their Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Travelers who are only partially vaccinated, or have not reached the two-week mark after their final dose, should continue to follow the CDC’s recommendations for unvaccinated people. 

TSA SCREENS MORE THAN 1M PASSENGERS PER DAY FOR 19 DAYS IN A ROW

Even before the CDC’s updated guidelines, Americans were already getting back to travel.

Earlier this week, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) data showed that the agency had screened more than 1 million travelers every day for 19 days in a row. That trend has continued through 22 days as of Thursday, marking the most prolonged travel rebound since the pandemic started more than a year ago.

Airlines have also seen an uptick in demand. American Airlines told AP on Monday that bookings are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels; other airlines including Southwest and Delta said their bookings started increasing in mid-February.

CDC GUIDELINES FOR COVID-19 VACCINATED POPULATION BACKED BY TOP HEALTH EXPERTS

Last month, the CDC said fully vaccinated people could also start gathering indoors without masks with other fully vaccinated people. The agency further suggested that vaccinated individuals mingling indoors with unvaccinated individuals who are considered low-risk for severe COVID-19 infection, poses a low risk.

However, the CDC advised all Americans to avoid larger indoor gatherings and wear masks in public and high-risk settings, regardless of vaccination status.

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Those recommendations were supported by health experts.

“This guidance is really thoughtful,” Dr. Anne Liu, infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, wrote to Fox News last month. “It balances removing some precautions under low risk conditions while maintaining them in high risk and public situations.”

Fox News’ Kayla Rivas contributed to this report.

Americans who have been fully vaccinated may safely begin traveling again, according to new guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The guidance says “fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19.”

“People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States,” the CDC site says. It goes on to say that travelers who are fully vaccinated don’t need to be tested before or after they travel unless required to do so by their destination. They also do not need to self-quarantine.

“For example, fully vaccinated grandparents can fly to visit their healthy grandkids without getting a COVID-19 test, or self quarantining, provided they follow the other recommended prevention measures,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing on Friday.

The new guidance urges Americans to delay international travel until they are fully vaccinated, and Walensky said fully vaccinated people who are traveling internationally should still be tested three to five days after they arrive in the U.S. on an international flight. 

She noted that the CDC continues to advise that “all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, should continue to wear masks on planes buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation, while traveling.” The CDC also urges travelers to maintain social distancing and wash hands “often” or use hand sanitizer.

The updates mark the first major revisions to the CDC’s guidance for what fully vaccinated Americans can do since they were first announced last month, a sign of hope for the coming return to more normal life heralded by widespread immunity.

For now, though, Walensky maintained that “CDC is not recommending travel at this time due to the rising number of cases” in the U.S. 

“I want to acknowledge today that providing guidance in the midst of a changing pandemic, and its changing science, is complex. On the one hand, we are telling you we are worried about rising cases, to wear a mask, and to avoid travel. Yet on the other hand, we are saying that, if you are vaccinated, evolving data suggests that traveling is likely lower risk,” she said.

After a months-long decline in cases around the country following the winter holidays, the spread of COVID-19 has picked up once again around the country.  Four in 10 counties in the U.S. are now in the agency’s “red zone” indicating high community transmission.

The CDC has also warned of highly-transmissible variants which often spread through travel. The B.1.1.7 strain, first identified in the United Kingdom, now is “predominant” across a broad swath of the U.S. from New York to Texas, a CDC spokesperson said Friday.

“In terms of travel, here’s what we know: Every time that there’s a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country,” Walensky had said last month when asked why the agency had yet not loosened its recommendations for fully vaccinated travelers. “We know that many of our variants have emerged

Fully vaccinated individuals can safely travel inside the U.S. and internationally, the CDC said in new guidance released Friday, though they should still wear a mask when traveling on public transportation, including airplanes.

Still, the CDC is not “recommending” travel at this time due to the rising number of cases, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

“We know that right now we have a surging number of cases. I would advocate against general travel overall. Our guidance is silent on recommending or not recommending fully vaccinated people travel. Our guidance speaks to the safety of doing so. If you’re — if you are vaccinated it is lower at risk,” she said in a briefing Friday.

The CDC is only recommending testing for travelers who are returning to the U.S. from international travel — keeping in place an order it announced in mid-January that requires all US-bound passengers to present a negative COVID-19 test before boarding.

For fully vaccinated Americans, this updated CDC guidance relieves much of the stress that comes with incorporating COVID-19 restrictions into travel plans. The CDC does note, however, that Americans still need to follow the guidelines set by other countries for international travel, including testing or quarantining.

The new guidance comes as nearly a third of the country’s adult population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC defines a person as “fully-vaccinated” two weeks after they’ve received their last dose. In the case of J&J, a one-shot vaccine, that means two weeks after the first and only shot. For Pfizer and Moderna, it’s two weeks after the second shot.

The CDC is still recommending unvaccinated people avoid all nonessential travel.

“We haven’t changed our guidance for nonessential travel at all. We are not recommending travel at this time, especially for unvaccinated individuals,” Walensky said.

“Our guidance on an unvaccinated individual really is to limit travel to only essential travel with masking, protective — prevention strategies. And so our update on this is really only for those who are vaccinated, and that represents about 20% of the adult population.”

White House COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt also asked Americans not to travel unless necessary.

“It is safe to travel without quarantining if fully vaccinated. Still, with cases rising & variants spreading, non-essential travel is not recommended yet,” he tweeted just as CDC released the new guidance.

The CDC has said it will continue to update guidance about how to socialize, travel and return to workplaces as more Americans get vaccinated. Fully vaccinated individuals can safely socialize indoors without masks or social distancing with other vaccinated individuals but

We’ve finally made it to spring and with more people getting vaccinated each day, many are turning their attention to travel after a year of staying put. Whether you’re fantasizing about spring break or planning your summer vacation, there will likely still be travel restrictions in place even as some states continue to reopen.

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President Biden’s administration announced that the goal is for all Americans to be eligible for the vaccine by May and hinted that restrictions may ease up around that time. CNBC reported that this may include travel across the Mexican and Canadian borders and inbound travel from the U.K., Europe and Brazil.

From international travel rules to “vaccination passports,” NBC’s senior medical correspondent Dr. John Torres has the answers to some common travel questions such as what to expect when flying, whether it’s safe for kids to travel and whether you can travel internationally.

What you need to know before booking your next trip

UP NEXT

UP NEXT

How can I safely plan a spring break trip?

If you have visions of spending the week in Cancún or the Caribbean, the bad news is that travel is still not recommended due to COVID-19.

“The CDC recommends: no non-essential travel. They’re recommending against taking vacations by going somewhere else,” Torres said on Weekend TODAY. “But at the same time, if you do go somewhere, you want to choose your destination wisely. Look at the cases there, look at the outbreaks that might be happening there and where you’re coming from. Also, look at the quarantine requirements going back and forth, if there’s something you’re going to need to do or testing.”

Torres added, “Simply consider a staycation. That’s still probably the best thing to do until we start getting more things under control and more people vaccinated.”



a group of people walking on a beach: Spring Break in Clearwater Beach (Octavio Jones / Reuters)


© Provided by TODAY
Spring Break in Clearwater Beach (Octavio Jones / Reuters)

Will vaccine passports be available soon?

Currently, all air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the United States.

A vaccine passport is a way to streamline that information but don’t expect to be able to get one in the U.S. just yet.

New ‘COVID passport’: An exclusive first look

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Beachgoers relax on South Beach in Miami Beach, FL on Friday, June 19, 2020. Scott McIntyre/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

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Last month, Kyle, a 21-year-old college student, traveled from Arizona to Mexico for spring break. He wasn’t supposed to, as his school’s spring break (like so many others) was officially canceled this year.

But, he said, he really needed a vacation.

“The virus has been going on for a while now, so I might as well go, because it’s not going to end anytime soon,” he told Insider, asking to omit his last name for privacy reasons.

Kyle is not the only one using pandemic fatigue as an excuse to travel. Beachgoers are flocking to Florida, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The number of people passing through TSA checkpoints has been on a steady upward creep for the past month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t shifted its recommendations to address this uptick, nor has it come up with new guidelines for vaccinated travelers.

“Travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19,” the agency‘s website has read for months. “CDC recommends that you do not travel at this time.”

This kind of abstinence-only approach has fallen on deaf ears, alienating the public. At this point, when case rates are declining, vaccinations are ramping up, and pandemic fatigue is going strong, people are straight-up ignoring the conservative government advisories.

Perhaps if more public health officials had suggested ways to travel safely, rather than warning against any and all trips, things would be different.

Many leading, independent public health experts now agree: loosening up travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people makes scientific sense, as long as a few common sense precautions are followed to protect those who aren’t vaccinated.

Let vaccinated people travel a bit, with guidelines

florida coronavirus keys

Alexeen Simms, a server at the Hungry Tarpon Restaurant in Islamorada, Florida, provides a luncheon entree to a couple Monday. June 1. 2020. Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/Handout via REUTERS

Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University school of public health, recommends vacations only as a perk for the fully vaccinated.

“I think right now people, if they need to travel and have been fully vaccinated can – but they’ve got to continue wearing their face mask,” Jha told reporters on Thursday.

That doesn’t mean jetting off to Europe for weeks on end, since there are some limited studies that suggest viral COVID-19 transmission has happened on a few long-haul flights. (“Would I get on an