COVID-19 Holiday and Travel Guidance

UW–Madison students and employees are strongly encouraged to avoid recreational travel this spring to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19. This also includes people who have been vaccinated. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain extremely high nationally and people should not travel, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The presence of more infectious variants of the vaccine also makes it important to limit spread from one place to another. It’s important that we do our part.

Everyone who travels should assume that they have come in contact with the virus and should help us by following the guidance below to support reduced transmission.

Travel Guidance

Before you go

If you are traveling, strictly limit your activities starting 10 days before your departure to help limit your chances of getting sick and passing the virus to loved ones. This means staying home as much as possible and not gathering with people you don’t live with.

  • Monitor your symptoms. Don’t travel if you are sick, in isolation, or in quarantine.
  • Learn which travel activities are safer and take steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Keep in mind that getting from one place to another is just one piece of the travel risk. Your activities and who you interact with before, during, and after travel may increase your risk.
  • Students who live in residence halls who will be gone more than two consecutive days must fill out the “Temporary Vacate Room” form in My UW Housing. When returning, students must complete a COVID-19 test within 24 hours. Their Badger Badge will remain red and access to campus buildings will be denied until a negative test is filed.
  • Undergraduate students living off campus who are traveling away from Madison for more than 3 days and will be unable to meet their testing requirements must complete this exemption form. Upon returning to Madison, students should get tested as soon as possible. Their Badger Badge will remain red and access to campus buildings will be denied until a negative test is on file.

While traveling and at your destination

  • Travel in a personal vehicle with limited passengers if possible. Wear face coverings if traveling with people outside your household. If using public transportation, check the carrier requirements for testing or otherwise well before travel. Review the CDC’s site for current information:  cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html
  • Keep practicing safe behaviors: Frequent hand-washing, face coverings, and physical distancing.
  • Strictly limit the number of people you see in person. This year it is not safe to get together with all your friends and family.
  • Self-monitor for symptoms. If you develop symptoms, consult a health care provider regarding testing at your current location. Look for local testing options: hhs.gov/coronavirus/community-based-testing-sites/index.html

After you return

Get tested after travel. If  you are not already testing regularly every 3 days, you should test 3-5 days after returning.  Stay home and self-quarantine (stay home except for attending class and work) for a full 7 days after travel, even if your test is negative. If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected. Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days.

Getting tested after travel is especially important if you did any of these activities that put you at higher risk for COVID-19:

  • Going to a large social gathering like a wedding, funeral, or party.
  • Attending a mass gathering like a sporting event, concert, or parade.
  • Being in crowded spaces such as restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters.
  • Taking public transportation like planes, trains or buses or being in transportation hubs like airports.
  • Traveling on a cruise ship or riverboat.

Campus Testing Information

COVID-19 testing is available on campus 7 days a week at no cost to students and employees. This spring, UW–Madison is offering saliva-based tests. These fast, accurate tests are available seven days a week (Students in residence halls will continue to undergo nasal swab testing at sites at Ogg Hall and Frank Holt Center).

Learn how and where to test on campus