Travel to Mass Gatherings
Mass gatherings are large numbers of people at a specific location for a specific purpose. Mass gatherings can be planned or spontaneous and present some unique health risks to attendees. Learn more about these health risks and some tips to stay safe if you attend a mass gathering.
When you attend a mass gathering, be aware of the following risks:
- Crowding: stampedes, structure collapse, injuries
- Poor infrastructure or hygiene: contaminated food and water contributing to travelers’ diarrhea
- Extreme temperatures: excessive sun exposure and hot climates, frostbite in cold climates
- Spread of infectious diseases: such as flu, measles, meningitis. Attending a mass gathering increases your change of being exposed to COVID-19.
- Safety and security concerns: terrorism, crime, violence
Before Your Trip
Follow these steps before your trip to protect yourself:
Check CDC’s destination pages for travel health information. Check CDC’s webpage for your destination to see what vaccines or medicines you may need and what diseases or health risks are a concern at your destination.
- Check CDC’s Travel Health Notices. Check to see if the country where the mass gathering is being held has a current health issue or other mass gathering-related consideration that you should be aware of.
Make sure you are up-to-date on all of your routine vaccines. Routine vaccinations protect you from infectious diseases such as measles that can spread quickly in groups of unvaccinated people. Many diseases prevented by routine vaccination are not common in the United States but are still common in other countries.
Make an appointment with your healthcare provider or a travel health specialist that takes place at least one month before you leave. They can help you get destination-specific vaccines, medicines, and information. Discussing health concerns as well as your itinerary and planned activities with your provider allows them to give more specific advice and recommendations.
Plan for the unexpected. It is important to plan for unexpected events as much as possible. Doing so can help you get quality health care or avoid being stranded at a destination. A few steps you can take to plan for unexpected events are to get travel insurance, learn where to get health care during travel, pack a travel health kit, and enroll in the Department of State’s STEP.
- Check the attendance requirements for participation. Some events require certain vaccinations before attending.
During Your Trip
If you are feeling sick, do not travel to or attend a mass gathering.
Follow these steps during your trip to protect yourself:
- Pay attention to your surroundings, including large crowds.
- Locate emergency exits upon arrival
- Identify where to obtain emergency medical services on site, if needed
- Arrange a place to meet your family or travel companions in case you are separated
- If there is a fire, crouch down low to get oxygen since heat and smoke rise
Follow these steps if you are stuck in a stampede, or crowd crush:
- Keep your hand in front of your chest like a boxer and keep firm footing
- Don’t resist the force of the crowd
- When there is a lull in movement, work your way diagonally to the edge of the crowd
- Try to stay on your feet
- If you fall down, protect yourself by curling into a ball
- Stay calm and get up as soon as you can.
Wash your hands. Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. Wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid bug bites. Use insect repellent and take other steps to avoid bug bites. Bugs, including mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and flies, can spread diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and Lyme. These bugs are typically more active during warm weather.
Choose safe food and drink. Contaminated food or drinks can cause travelers’ diarrhea and other diseases and disrupt your travel. Travelers to low or middle income destinations are especially at risk. Generally, foods served hot are usually safe to eat as well as dry and packaged foods. Bottled, canned, and hot drinks are usually safe to drink. Learn more about how to choose safer food and drinks to prevent getting sick.
Protect yourself from the sun. Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher when traveling. Protecting yourself from the sun isn’t just for tropical beaches—you can get a sunburn even if it’s cloudy or cold. You are at the highest risk for UV exposure when you are traveling during summer months, near the equator, at high altitudes, or between 10 am to 4 pm.
If you are traveling in hot weather or in a hot climate, wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. When traveling in cold weather or climates, wear warm clothing in several loose layers.
If you traveled and feel sick, particularly if you have a fever, talk to a healthcare provider and tell them about your travel.
If you need medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care During Travel.
CDC Yellow Book: Travel to Mass Gatherings