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Is Holiday Travel Safe in 2020? | Frommer's Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Is Holiday Travel Safe in 2020?

Our headline is the question thousands of families are asking themselves in the run-up to the end of the year.

Depending on where you live in the United States, you may have already heard a direct answer. The governors of Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin have all issued statements advising residents to forego holiday travel and large, indoor family gatherings in the coming months.

"My personal advice is you don't have family gatherings even for Thanksgiving," Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said about holiday travel. "My personal advice is the best way to say 'I love you,' the best way to say 'I'm thankful for you,' [is] that I don't want to endanger you, and I don't want to endanger our family and our friends."

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Warnings are coming from federal experts as well. "When you have people coming in from out of town gathering in an indoor setting . . . It's such a sacred part of American tradition—the family gathering around Thanksgiving—but that is a risk," Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a CBS News interview.

Fauci suggested getting tested before gatherings and trying to celebrate outdoors as much as possible, but he also said, without waffling, that any such gatherings could still cause illness.

"When people do things in crowds without masks—particularly indoors—it's just asking for trouble," Fauci said. "We know without a doubt that those are the events that have been spreading [Covid-19] among people."

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The messages from Fauci and the governors don't come in a vacuum. The United States is experiencing its highest infection rates of the year, with several days in the last week topping 100,000 new daily infections. Hospitals in North and South Dakota are overwhelmed, according to National Public Radio, and medical facilities in Wisconsin, Montana, Nebraska, and New Mexico are having severe difficulties finding enough beds for critical patients. That means that even patients with other types of medical emergencies, such as car accidents and heart attacks, may have trouble obtaining quick treatment.

But there has been some recent good news on the Covid-19 front. On Monday, drug giant Pfizer announced it has created a vaccine with a high success rate, and the company has applied for authorization to distribute the vaccine soon. That news is a light at the end of this long, dark pandemic tunnel. With this news, Americans finally know that our time for reunions is coming soon—we don't necessarily have to take a risk for the holidays now that there's a chance we can see loved ones again in the coming months.

But many Americans don’t have the patience to wait. According to recent studies by Destination Analysts and MMGY Travel Intelligence, between 25% to 28% of Americans are determined to travel over Thanksgiving, with slightly higher numbers expecting to be away from home over Christmas.

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If you’re on the fence, I will now say something I never thought a Frommer would say.

Don’t travel right now if it's to attend an indoor celebration.

The risks are just too high. Travel will be back soon enough, thanks to the pending vaccine. Be smart and wait just a short while longer.

But if you decide you simply must fly this holiday season, click here for our advice on how to stay safe, remain sane, and safeguard your wallet.

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