How to Travel Responsibly During the Holidays Amid Omicron Wave

Many pharmacies and online retailers have sold out of at-home tests. The White House is planning to make 500 million free at-home tests available, but that won’t happen until January. For those who do manage to get a kit, use it as close to your departure date as possible, several experts said.

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“The closer you are to the event, the better and more accurate it will be,” said Dr.

Lin H. Chen, a professor at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Mount Auburn Hospital Travel Medicine Center in Cambridge, Mass.

Dr. Chen suggested taking an at-home antigen test the day of the gathering. (If a person tests positive at any point, she advised not going to the event and getting a P.C.R. test for confirmation.) If people are staying in a house together for an extended period, testing periodically throughout their stay is advisable, Dr.

Chen said. This is particularly important if someone is not vaccinated or boosted, or has been exposed to someone who has tested positive, other experts noted.

Yes, everyone is confused

Ms. Hills, the bioethicist, said that it’s understandable that many people are confused by having to make what should be public health decisions.

“We should be getting more guidance,” she said, noting that many state and federal agencies offer different advice.

At the testing site in Brooklyn, several travelers echoed this point and lamented that public health authorities were not making what they considered responsible travel — getting tested before visiting family — easier.

Compounding these frustrations, some travelers said, is the sense that the burden is on them to figure out what is socially responsible and epidemiologically safe and then to convince their family and friends of the policies they have come up with.

One woman, who declined to use her name because she didn’t want her family to identify her, said she no longer feels comfortable flying with her 2- and 3-year-old children after learning over Thanksgiving that her own family members would fly even if they tested positive.