6 Things You Should Pack When You Travel, According to the CDC

Before you so much as head out the door, make sure you have these essential supplies on hand.

After months spent indoors, many avid adventurers are eager to once again leave their hometown and travel somewhere new. But even with coronavirus numbers plateauing in certain parts of the country, the pandemic still poses a very real threat, particularly in places like hotels, where strangers are likely to be in close quarters and share facilities.

However, that doesn't mean you can't keep yourself safe if you do choose to hit the road. On a July 27 call with members of the media, experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed what travelers should pack for overnight trips—so read on to discover which must-have travel supplies you can't afford to leave at home amid the coronavirus pandemic. And if you're traveling in the near future, These 3 Airlines Are Handling Coronavirus the Worst, Experts Say.

Prescription Medicines

older white man holding prescription bottle

Drive-through pharmacies may make getting prescriptions a relatively low-contact endeavor, but finding one isn't always easy. That's why Allison Taylor Walker, PhD, Epidemiology and Surveillance Lead with the Travelers' Health branch of the CDC, recommends packing enough prescription medication for your entire trip.

However, that doesn't mean you can safely hop on a plane or check into a hotel if you're feeling under the weather just because you have medication on hand. "If you know you have symptoms of COVID, stay home," says John Brooks, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the CDC's COVID-19 response team. Brooks says that if you're concerned about being sick, you should wait until you've been tested to hit the road. And if you want to keep your trip safe, These Are the 4 Things You Should Never Touch in a Hotel, CDC Says.

Over-the-Counter Medication

Man taking a pill with a glass of water

It's not just prescriptions you should stock up on before your next adventure. If you take vitamins, supplements, or any other over-the-counter medications, Walker recommends bringing those with you, too, so you don't have to run to the drugstore or pharmacy, where you could be exposed to someone infected.

Hand Sanitizer

white woman using hand sanitizer

Whether you're traveling to a hotel near home or heading out of state, there's one thing you need to bring with you: hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of 60 percent or higher.

That said, just because you're using hand sanitizer doesn't mean you're using it correctly. Brooks recommends that people wipe visible dirt off their hands first, then apply the sanitizer, ensuring they rub their hands together until they're dry for maximum effectiveness. And if you want to make sure you're cleaning up safely, avoid these 9 Hand Sanitizers the FDA Says Could Be Toxic.

Food and Water

man in yellow trunks holding cooler on the beach
Shutterstock/LightField Studios

If you're stopping at gas stations and supermarkets for food throughout your trip, you're significantly increasing your number of potential coronavirus exposures. Walker says food and water are essential travel supplies to have on hand amid the coronavirus pandemic, noting that you can also safely order takeout or room service if you opt for contact-free delivery. And for more helpful information, sign up for our daily newsletter.


white pillow on the bed in the bedroom with woman 's hand who are making the room.

Thinking about using a hotel pillow? "Ick," says Brooks, who recommends bringing your own pillows when you travel, particularly amid the pandemic. If you don't have room to pack one, either buy yourself a new one at a local store, or "ask for a fresh, sanitized pillow from the front desk," he recommends.


three fabric masks on table

Wearing a mask whenever you're in public is essential for stopping the spread of coronavirus—and that includes when you're on vacation, too. Walker recommends bringing at least one mask with you—preferably more if you're spending more than a day or two away—and wearing it whenever you're somewhere you might come into contact with others, like hotel lobbies.

However, even if you are wearing a mask, Walker says there's one place in hotels you should avoid: the elevator. She recommends taking the stairs if possible, or waiting "until you can ride alone or with only people from your household." And if you're worried about how much protection you're getting, You Need to Stop Believing This Common Mask Myth.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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