The coronavirus pandemic changed many aspects of our lives, including our ability to travel whenever and wherever we want. While the development and deployment of Covid-19 vaccines are currently under way, the fact that new strains of the virus are emerging means traveling remains a great risk.
As the pandemic continues to run rampant, the wise thing to do is to stay at home and postpone travel for now. However, if you must go on that trip, you need to observe some safety precautions that will prevent you from catching Covid-19. Here’s our guide to safe travel during the pandemic.
Preparation is the key.
Your goal is to stay safe and avoid getting sick from Covid-19 as you travel during the pandemic. This requires a lot of thought and preparation.
One thing you need to consider is where you’re going—whether you already have a specific destination in mind or you still have to choose. If you can choose where to go, opt for somewhere closer to home, a place you can drive to and won’t need to fly or take public transport. That’s because driving your car is the safer way to travel right now. When you drive your own vehicle, you reduce your interactions with other people and, thus, reduce your risk of catching the virus.
However, if you must go to a particular destination, the first thing you need to do is to check if your destination has existing travel restrictions. For local travel, official US state websites usually have guidelines as to whether you can enter or not. The same goes with international destinations—for this, you can take a look at the US State Department website for advisories.
You may also need to show proof that you’re not infected with Covid-19. In that case, you should get swab-tested and perhaps go on self-quarantine for 14 days before the trip. Needless to say, you must not push your trip if you test positive or show flu symptoms. Do rethink your journey as well if you have kids or the elderly with you.
If you’re clear for traveling, make sure you bring face masks, disposable gloves, and bags for disposing them safely. Additionally, pack alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and antibacterial wipes. If you’re staying at a hotel, make sure that you choose a hotel with high safety standards. Moreover, book your room ahead of time and confirm your reservation before you go. Most importantly, wear a mask, wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and practice social distancing wherever you go.
Road trip during the pandemic.
As mentioned earlier, travel during the pandemic is currently safer by car than by plane or public transport. When you drive your own vehicle, you reduce your contact with other people. You also get to limit who handles your baggage and other belongings.
This doesn’t mean that driving your own vehicle doesn’t have its own risks. You may still have to stop for gas or food or go on a bathroom break along the way. This is where disposable gloves come in handy. If you stop at a self-service gas station, put on your gloves before handling the pump.
Most public restrooms these days are equipped with doorless entries, motion-activated faucets and tissue dispensers, as well as automatic flushing. Nonetheless, do avoid handling doorknobs, faucets, and other fixtures after washing your hands. If you have to, use a tissue when you do and dispose the tissue properly afterwards.
As for dining, most restaurants have limited dining-in capacity right now as a way to implement social distancing. Even so, it may be safer to order takeout food and eat in your car instead. Better yet, bring your own food if you can. When you pay for your food or other purchases, try to use contactless cards rather than cash.
Air travel during the pandemic.
Airlines are gradually resuming flights across the country and internationally. Traveling by air is generally considered safe because planes are equipped with systems that cycle and filter air. However, although airlines have their own safety protocols, social distancing is still a challenge to implement inside the cabin.
If you’re traveling by air, one of the ways you can limit contact with other people is by printing your boarding pass before you go to the airport. That way, you can go straight to security to present your pass. Before you board your plane, though, make sure you have all your travel documents and forms ready so you won’t be hassled at your arrival airport.
Additionally, you need to be more observant with what you pack. By following airline rules as to what you can bring and not bring in your check-in and carry-on luggage, you prevent airline personnel from opening your bags and handling your things. Most airlines these days require that you pack your food separately from your carry-on. They now also allow passengers to bring a 10-ml bottle of alcohol or hand sanitizer in their carry-on bag.
If you have a carry-on bag with you, try to stow it underneath your seat instead of in the overhead compartment. That’s because most airline staff are no longer allowed to assist you with your baggage. Moreover, try to stay in your seat as much as possible and restrict conversations during the flight. Avoid going to the lavatory unless you have to, as people generally converge there.
The Covid-19 global pandemic may be changing the way we travel these days. While it’s still wise to stay at home, you can travel during the pandemic safely if you remain aware and cautious of the risks.
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