Watch: Expert tips for staying safe no matter how you travel or where you stay.

Traveling for medical care is never easy. The COVID-19 pandemic adds challenges. Here’s how to travel safely right now.

Plan your itinerary

  • Check the latest CDC travel recommendations.
  • Minimize stops and avoid close contact with others.
  • Plan meals, even if it’s just packing sandwiches.

Pack for safety

  • A cloth face covering
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
  • Thermometer
  • Credit card to avoid handling cash and coins
  • Enough clothes to avoid re-wearing items

Have a daily eating plan

  • Research grocery stores, carryout restaurants and patient cafeterias.
  • Book lodging with a fridge and microwave.
  • Wash hotel plates, cups and silverware before use.
  • Carry nonperishable food and snacks.

Stay on top of cleaning and disinfecting

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Ask about safety precautions before you book lodging.
  • Disinfect high-touch hotel surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, remote controls).
  • Wash cloth face coverings in hot, soapy water every day.

Patient Travel Services

Mayo Clinic travel specialists can help patients or their caregivers reserve flights, hotel rooms or ground transportation. (Flight reservations require a small fee.)

Learn more about Patient Travel Services

Visiting Mayo Clinic safely during the COVID-19 pandemic

Safe travel and lodging are key concerns if you are considering care at Mayo Clinic, even when the risk of not being treated outweighs the risk of possible coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) exposure.

With that in mind, here are the different aspects of traveling to a Mayo campus for care and assessing lodging options for your safety.

Travel by air

Infection risk on an airline is low, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Filtered, circulated cabin air means most viruses and other germs don't spread easily on airplanes. Air travel may represent the least number of possible virus exposures to manage during your trip to or from Mayo Clinic if doing so eliminates overnight lodging.

Air travel often does require a taxi or shuttle to or from each airport, some contact at security checkpoints, and time in the terminal spaces. You may decide that travel using your own vehicle is simpler and brings more risk elements under your direct control. But if your personal needs demand that you travel by air for care, doing so is manageable with some careful planning.

You should also review and adhere to your selected airline's recommendations on wearing face masks while onboard an aircraft.

Consider Mayo Clinic Patient Travel Services

Mayo Clinic Patient Travel Services can help anyone traveling to Mayo Clinic locations with reservations, itineraries and ground transportation (a $25 fee is needed for air reservations). Call 720-956-6055 or 866-551-3392 (toll-free), 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday.

Air travel trip recommendations

Follow CDC guidelines throughout your trip

  • Minimize contact. Avoid physical contact with fellow passengers and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Follow good hand hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Be efficient getting through airport screening

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has made screening process changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. TSA officers practice social distancing, wear masks and gloves, and regularly clean and disinfect screening equipment and surfaces at checkpoints. Officers also change gloves after each pat-down. Each passenger may now carry on one oversized liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces (354 milliliters). These containers must be screened separately, which may increase your time to get through security.

Be especially mindful during and after airport screening:

  • Wash your hands immediately before and after going through security screening, per CDC recommendation.
  • Pack personal items, such as keys, wallets and phones, in your carry-on bag or backpack rather than carrying them through security, to minimize contact with the items.
  • Minimize contact with fellow passengers during screening and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

Plan for local travel at your destination including around Mayo campuses

Mayo Clinic Patient Travel Services can arrange ground transportation and help you assess safe taxi and other transportation options. Call 720-956-6055 or 866-551-3392 (toll-free), 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday.

Knowing what your planned option involves (for example, some or no cleaning on your part) will make you comfortable with the option you choose. It may also eliminate last-minute surprises and clarify any extra safety measures you prefer to take when you use those options.

Travel by car

Traveling to Mayo Clinic by car may provide more control over the timing of possible exposures, such as during rest and food stops. But, depending on the length of your trip, road travel may require more episodes of human contact than air travel.

Using your own vehicle to get around campus removes one complication of travel — you may not need to use local taxis or shuttles. On-campus parking is available at all Mayo locations.

Plan for your journey

  • Bring any medicines you may need for the duration of your trip.
  • Prepare food and water for the road. Include some nonperishable food items in case restaurants and stores are closed.
  • Plan to make as few stops as possible, but stop driving if you feel drowsy or sleepy. When you must stop, minimize close contact between you and your companions and others.
  • Pack alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) in an easily accessible spot.
  • Pack disinfectant wipes (at least 70% alcohol) for surfaces.
  • Pick up food at drive-thrus, curbside restaurant services, or stores.
  • If you must stay somewhere overnight, investigate and book room reservations in advance.
    • Mayo Clinic Patient Travel Services can help anyone traveling to Mayo Clinic locations with reservations and advice on safe accommodations.
    • You can also refer to our safe lodging checklist to help you choose an accommodation that meets your needs.
    • The checklist reflects the questions Mayo Clinic Patient Travel Services asks any hospitality property before recommending it to patients.

Check with the state or local health department along your route and at your destination. Some state and local governments may have travel restrictions, stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, or mandated quarantine on arrival. Keep in mind that restrictions may change. As your departure date gets closer, check back for updates.

Lodging

The hospitality industry is taking steps to meet new health and safety challenges in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations such as the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and others are defining standards of enhanced cleaning practices and workplace training, as well as changes to provide safe social distancing for guests and staff.

Consider Mayo Clinic Patient Travel Services

Mayo Clinic Patient Travel Services can help anyone traveling to Mayo Clinic locations with reservations, itineraries and ground transportation. Call 720-956-6055 or 866-551-3392 (toll-free), 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday.

If you reserve lodging on your own

Before you reserve a room, call the hotel or visit its website to see how the hotel plans to keep guests safe. Some best practices include:

  • Enhanced cleaning of public and common areas, elevators, and guest rooms, as well as food preparation and laundry areas
  • Visible social distancing measures in the lobby, at the front desk and in parking areas
  • Required masking of staff and guests in accordance with CDC recommendations
  • Employee training on:
    • Effective hand-washing
    • Facility sanitation
    • Use of personal protective equipment
  • Advance plans to respond to a presumptive case of COVID-19, such as closing and disinfecting affected guest rooms to CDC guidelines

If you can't use Patient Travel Services, consider our safe lodging checklist to compare different options for your stay.

When you get to your room

  • Look for a posted notice that your room has been cleaned and prepared following CDC guidelines to minimize chance of COVID-19 virus transmission.
  • If you still have concerns, use disinfectant wipes to clean all high-touch surfaces, including tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, remote controls, toilets and sink faucets.
  • Wash any plates, cups or silverware (other than pre-wrapped plastic utensils) before using.

Continue to practice prevention

The CDC recommends travelers follow these precautions:

  • Wear a cloth face covering over your nose and mouth in public, including during travel.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • It's especially important to clean your hands after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.