Happ… um, Safe Holidays!

We have all had those moments of temptation; asking “should we?” since Easter, and continuing through every holiday and special celebration.

This month we might be thinking about how to adapt these typically overly-scheduled weeks of thanks, fellowship, and celebrating everything from a good business year to the birth of the Christian Savior. We are in for much enticement to collectively shop, eat, plan, worship, and spend time with the people we have been missing since last Spring.

In a normal year, about 50 million Americans travel more than 50 miles to see family and friends. Experts believe that number will be down by about half this year, with most of the reduction being in air travel. If Bureau of Transportation Statistics hold true, based on 4th of July and Labor Day trips, the number of 100-500-mile trips will go up, while those covering more than 500 miles will diminish.


Dr. Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia University says, “Although the collective risks of holiday travel are large, with caution, the risks for any given individual traveler can be reduced. If you’re unsure, or your loved ones are particularly vulnerable, err on the side of not going.”

  • Consider visiting off-peak—that is, not right around a holiday, when lots of other people might be traveling as well.
  • Plan a smaller gathering. The fewer people from different households, the better. It’s not clear that shortening a visit marginally—say, from three days to two or from two weeks to one—will reduce risk in a predictable, linear way.
  • Get tested. Each family member should be tested before the trip. If the test comes back positive or if you’re feeling sick, bail on the trip.
  • Stay with your family. For longer visits, if your loved ones have the space, it’s probably safer to stay with them than in a hotel.
  • Follow the basic guidelines that apply the rest of the year. Even if you’re willing to take on some extra risk to see your loved ones for the holidays, you should continue to follow the rules and socialize outdoors when possible.
  • Quarantine ahead of time. Consider staying home a little (or a lot) more before you go, to minimize exposure or bringing something with you.
  • Go Virtual. For $15, you can buy yourself a month of unlimited Zoom calls and see your family any time.


If you really want to get out of the house, consider turning the big days into an opportunity for a travel vacation. We still have days off, and travel deals are aplenty right now. There are great destinations where you can relax and not feel like you’re missing out entirely.

Dr. Morse says if you can get there in a day’s time, driving is safer than flying.
To be safe, you should not drive for more than nine hours a day, excluding breaks. This is a map of the places you can reach in a day’s driving on highways and state roads…