I am planning a vacation trip out of state from Boston, Massachusetts to California by air. I found a deal that will work around Presidents' Day but then there was this warning to check the California travel rules updated as of Jan 6, 2021. That link says

  1. Non-essential travelers from other states or countries are strongly discouraged from entering California, and should adhere to the quarantine procedures set forth in Paragraph 3.

And then para 3 basically says that you should quarantine yourself for 10 days when you arrive in or return to California.

My question is, can I take a leisure travel to California by Air out of state? Will my quarantine be mandated? Since I will be travelling for few days, my trip would be useless if I had to quarantine myself. What is sane advice that I should take? How much of risk I am putting myself and others in the current covid-19 situation?

Additional Information

Adding some details as pointed out in comments. I am a bit sick of cold weather up north, want to take a vacation to warm and sunny place. I out-ruled abroad (Caribbean etc) because of current pandemic and strict rules as well as cost, thought within US should be OK.

My trip would be to San Deigo, CA for 3 days.

A friend of mine travelled from abroad, he was not mandated at all for quarantine so I am wonder how can this be enforced?

Yes It is not a concern for me if attractions are closed, main goal is to explore San Deigo, experience the weather and vibes, go hiking. We probably wont have time to go any attractions anyways in 3 days.

Last we like traveling, it is not super fun in Pandemic but again sick of cold and want to take a break. Major concern is if I go anyways, will my quarantine by enforced?

  • 30
    It looks like you've found the answer. "Strongly discouraged from entering" and "quarantine yourself for 10 days". I think you should delay your trip.
    – canonacer
    Jan 18, 2021 at 7:23
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    Independently of the legal situation, the question "Should I" can be answered with a clear and definite "no".
    – mrks
    Jan 18, 2021 at 8:24
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    Today California reported 42,229 new Covid cases (by far the highest of all the states) and 432 deaths. ‘Stay at home’ restrictions are widespread. covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs A short leisure trip right now is a very bad idea and pretty pointless in your case given the quarantine requirement theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/01/…
    – Traveller
    Jan 18, 2021 at 9:01
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    "Can" and "should" are different questions, and you most emphatically should not, but strictly from the standpoint of "can," some California counties have specific rules that require you to quarantine yourself if you enter from outside their immediate region, so this depends on where in California you'd be going. But really, I think all you need to do is look at the fact they just had to lift environmental restrictions on cremations in Los Angeles County to know the answer is that you should not do this. Jan 18, 2021 at 9:15
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    @CuriousTraveler "Let's say" is a bit vague, because it really does matter. If you're coming from Boston, then you will be subject to the Massachusetts travel order on your return. This requires you to quarantine for 10 days or produce a negative test result from a test administered within 72 hours before your arrival in the state. Even then, it would be highly irresponsible to rely on that; if you were exposed in the process of your trip, you likely wouldn't start testing positive until sometime after you already returned home. Jan 18, 2021 at 22:54

5 Answers 5


No. You legally cannot do this right now

As of today, San Diego is under a regional stay-at-home order, which means that travelers must quarantine after arrival before they go anywhere else in the state.

This is laid out in an information page breaking out stay-at-home orders by region. San Diego is in the Southern California region, marked as being subject to a stay-at-home order right now.

The regional stay-at-home orders impose a variety of restrictions, and the one most relevant to your question is item 3:

  1. Except as otherwise required by law, no hotel or lodging entity in California shall accept or honor out of state reservations for non-essential travel, unless the reservation is for at least the minimum time period required for quarantine and the persons identified in the reservation will quarantine in the hotel or lodging entity until after that time period has expired.

This doesn't guarantee that a hotel will not take your reservation for a three-day stay, but it does mean that a hotel will be breaking the law by doing so. Even if a hotel does take a reservation for your proposed three-day visit, that does not protect you from consequences for any laws you may be breaking yourself.

You can't camp either:

g. To promote and protect the physical and mental well-being of people in California, outdoor recreation facilities may continue to operate. Those facilities may not sell food or drink for on-site consumption. Overnight stays at campgrounds are not permitted

Exploring San Diego is also a pretty clear violation of the stay-at-home orders.

The relevant laws under which the order was issued are listed there as well:

10.This order is issued pursuant to Health and Safety Code sections 120125, 120130(c), 120135, 120140, 120145, 120175,120195 and 131080; EO N-60-20, N-25-20, and other authority provided for under the Emergency Services Act; and other applicable law.

Conditions might loosen, even relatively soon (though I wouldn't bet on it). I don't know when the Southern California region's stay-at-home order began, so it's possible that it could expire in the near-to-moderate future. Calling the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) could get you more information (though they won't be open today, as you discovered, due to it being a holiday). But for right now the answer to whether or not you can travel there for a leisure vacation is an unambiguous "no".

If you choose to travel to California anyhow, and refuse to quarantine, you may or may not be caught

It's obviously not impossible to break the law without being caught. If monitoring of travelers is lax, it's entirely possible that you could violate the restrictions without immediate consequence. Monitoring could also be retrospective: you're unlikely to be able to get a hotel room without a credit card, for example, and so there would be a record of where you stayed and for how long. An airline would certainly have records of your flights.

A question on Law.SE can get you better answers about how the current COVID restrictions are actually applied, and what risks you may face (if any) from different approaches to your proposed vacation. I have found many posters there with deep knowledge of legal situations in specific states, and they can probably get you very precise information, from a legal perspective, on what you're asking.

You would be putting yourself and others at risk by traveling to California right now

I'm not interested in giving a full explanation of absolute and relative risks here, so I'll give a quick summary instead: CA has one of the worst COVID outbreaks in the country right now. If you are infected and contagious while there, you could make that problem worse by infecting California residents. If you are injured, or become sick with something (COVID or otherwise) and require an ICU bed, you will be taking up scarce resources which the entire stay-at-home order is meant to preserve for California residents.

Finally, traveling to a place where COVID transmission is rampant increases the likelihood that you will become infected while there and then you could bring the disease back to your home, potentially causing (or exacerbating) the COVID situation there.

To head off any "but I'll be careful while there"-style arguments, intending to travel to CA right now and not only specifically not quarantine but also explore the city strongly suggests that you will not, in fact, be sufficiently careful. If you're willing to disregard the laws and guidance around out-of-state travel simply due to restlessness and being tired of Winter, it suggests that you might be a bit loose with other guidelines as well.

I sympathize. Really, I do-- I'd love to travel right now. My grandmother's funeral is this Saturday, and I won't be able to be there due to travel restrictions. But the restrictions exist to limit the spread of COVID, as well as the consequences of rising infection rates.

This is one of the most dangerous times during the entire pandemic to travel within the US, especially by air, and California is one of the most dangerous places in the US that you could travel to (as far as COVID is concerned). If you really fell you must travel somewhere in the immediate future, finding someplace you could drive to that is suffering a less intense outbreak is a much safer and more defensible option.

  • Great answer. My condolences with your grandmother's passing and my sympathy on not being able to attend the funeral. :(
    – Oliphaunt
    Jan 18, 2021 at 23:36
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    Excellent answer, +1. The part about "but I'll be careful while there" is tactful - I fear I would have been far less diplomatic. Also, I don't know how much this means coming from a complete stranger, but I'm sorry for your grandmother.
    – Vorbis
    Jan 19, 2021 at 8:49

My question is, can I take a leisure travel to california by Air out of state?

It's not illegal so you can.

I'm not sure what type of "leisure" you are looking for though. Pretty much everything is closed and in lockdown, so the most likely scenario would be being confined in a hotel room for a 10 day quarantine with take out food and no human contact. That's not my idea of a fun time.

Will my quarantine be mandated?


Since I will be travelling for few days, my trip would be useless if I had to quarentine myself.


What is sane advice that I should take?

DO NOT TRAVEL. This is a terrible idea in the middle of a pandemic spike with hundreds of people dying every day in California alone.

How much of risk I am putting myself and others in the current covid-19 situation?

This is a very high and completely unnecessary risk.

  • 4
    @lambshaanxy, it may not be enforced, it is still a requirement and OP should stay in quarantaine.
    – Willeke
    Jan 18, 2021 at 16:08
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    @lambshaanxy . Enforcement in a state like California is very difficult and hence you have to rely on most people behaving like responsible adults and not like idiots. Unfortunately that's a questionable assumption man people are dying that really didn't need to.
    – Hilmar
    Jan 18, 2021 at 16:10
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    @CuriousTraveler This answer is clear that quarantining is mandatory. Whether or not you will definitely be caught ignoring that requirement is not information anyone here (or anywhere) can provide, or that you could rely on. If you choose to violate the law you are at risk for being discovered and punished for that violation. And legal consequences aren't the only ones at play: CA has about as bad a COVID situation as anywhere in the US. Your question asks for sane advice, which this answer provides: do not go to CA for a leisure trip right now.
    – Upper_Case
    Jan 18, 2021 at 17:57
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    @CuriousTraveler This is the last I'll say on it: if it's a legal requirement that you quarantine, it is breaking the law to not quarantine. Whether or not they enforce that law doesn't change that fact. Saying that you'll go, even if it is illegal, provided that you won't get caught (if they don't monitor travelers carefully, for example) literally means that you are intending to break the law. There is no other interpretation.
    – Upper_Case
    Jan 18, 2021 at 20:33
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    @CuriousTraveler It seems like you keep hoping someone will tell you "yes this is a good idea and you can and should do this," when it is a bad idea that you should not do. Whether you can get away with it because of the lack of enforcement is not really the point. Jan 18, 2021 at 21:33

Rent an RV and drive it to the Carolina coast

Since OP's goal is to get some sun, I am proposing a closer destination on the US East Cost. I am not proposing to drive to California. "Carolina" is a pair of states a bit north of Florida.

It's a 13 hour drive. "Oh, that's so much longer than a flight" No it's not. I've crossed the country plenty of times. If you're honest about the "all-in" time from your driveway to the other driveway, it's about 13 hours from Boston to San Diego.

So "drive time" is a wash.

So what are the advantages of the RV?

  • It totally eliminates a whole bunch of close contact other than sitting in the airplane proper... including queuing for baggage check, queueing for TSA security, waiting at the airport (which evidence is showing is a real problem), taking public transport within the airport site, waiting at the rental agency -- all places with no consequence for mask non-compliance, so off come the masks and you have a "super-spreader" event.
  • It's wheels, directly, which means you can simply go from your driveway to wherever you want to go. The only place you have to stop is gas stations, and having recently crossed the country that way, this can be done contactless if you use a credit card to buy your gas.
  • It's easier to roam and explore non-urban destinations, such as a remote beach or trailhead, since you're not forced to be near airports. Getting "out in the country" simply means less contact with people and gives you vastly better choice of safe activities. (and who's kidding who, they're on your bucket list anyway!)
  • Carry your own food, so no restaurants. You provision your RV at the start of your trip. If anything comes up, simply do "curbside" at a big-box store where you're already set up. I did exactly that on my recent trip, and it was effortless and instant. (at Target, which really has their act together; this depends on using their app. Downside, Target stores are rare in Trumpland).
  • Incremental cost for +1 person is nothin'. So take a partner or podmate.
  • Or pet.
  • 1
    @PeterM Read my headline. I am proposing the >>>**Carolina**<<< coast which is a great deal closer to Boston. Jan 19, 2021 at 5:41
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    @Willeke I crossed the country in November. Thanks to gas pumps that take credit cards, the closest I had to human contact was the Target staffer who threw a grocery bag into my trunk. I could have seen monuments, hiked national trails, done all sorts of stuff with zero contact. Can you clarify how this would increase COVID propagation? Jan 19, 2021 at 5:43
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    I read this a couple of times and upvoted. Perfect X-Y answer. It does not answer title which is actually 2 questions with one answer: “Don’t”; but it does answer the implied and somewhat stated questions in the text: “I need to get away and I want somewhere warmer than here.”
    – Damila
    Jan 19, 2021 at 6:17
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    @JonathanReez I do not understand the "solidarity" argument. Solidarity is about helping people. We could all quit our jobs in "solidarity" to those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. What do these "if one suffers, all must suffer" approaches achieve?
    – wimi
    Jan 19, 2021 at 9:02
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica, it worked out because you did not get ill, or had any other problems which made you needing help. Too many people do travel with COVID 19 without realising it and then need medical help in rural areas which are hard pushed to help the locals.
    – Willeke
    Jan 19, 2021 at 9:08

The only sensible way to tour California now during the covid19 shutdown is to do it virtually. Find videos that show the places you would visit and watch them instead of taking time money effort and risk to go their physically.

  • 3
    yeah, do that, get a sun lamp, and turn up the heat!
    – Jasen
    Jan 19, 2021 at 9:42

Knowing the st.exchange crowd, I know I am going to get negative votes for this but going to answer it myself anyways as that was the reason I asked this question.

Yes, you can go on leisure trip to California or any other place in the current covid-19 situation, your trip will most likely never be monitored. There is no such system in place yet where they will ask you, where are you going and where will you be staying? Such law enforcement are just never in place and everyone is supposed to observe it on honary basis. So even though there is 14 day mandatary quarantine in place, you can still go on leisure trip within the country, but one thing you will notice, your trip will not be much fun.

Other things

One thing you will notice, your trip will not be much fun esp the travel part, everyone will be wearing the masks and you will come in close contacts with other people (unavoidable) so the danger of spreading covid is real there (to yourself and to others) so it is best to avoid such trips. But once you arrive at your hotel, things would be very much like normal. I did travel and the hotel I stayed in was serving hot breakfast, with everyone still wearing mask all the time except when eating.

Note that you will not be able to get a hotel room directly from the hotel website, because they have mandatory 14 day minimum stay policy hence you will only be using third party websites such as kayak, priceline etc or you can get a travel package from costco etc.

other recommendation is, avoid travelling on long weekends during pandemic, because the plans will be really fully booked, and you will be uncomfortably setting close to each other. The car rental and air fair will also be high, so I would recommend to travel on a normal day just to avoid congestion and be more safe.

Again it is not best to travel and best practice is to be safe at home but then we do go out every day and one get tired staying in same place so if you do decide to travel for some reason, you should be able to without much problems, but it will take some fun from your travel.

Edit: A friend of mine went on honeymoon for 8 days to California, without any problem so really you can go anywhere if you want to. It is just the risk that you take, which is up to you.

  • 1
    "There is no such system in place yet where they will ask you, where are you going and where will you be staying? Such law enforcement are just never in place and everyone is supposed to observe it on honary basis" Downvoting because this just isn't true - witness Australia's mandatory hotel quarantine system, for instance. That is not being run on an honour system!
    – nick012000
    Feb 27, 2021 at 0:31
  • I mentioned that you can't book hotel directly from hotels own websites for less than 14 days, which covers it. But otherwise no will ask you where you are going, this is just not practical thing to implement
    – TheTechGuy
    Feb 27, 2021 at 1:54
  • "...or any other place..." in the third line is demonstrably false. Downvoted. Apr 2, 2021 at 20:15

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