Traveling during Covid-19 is nothing like traveling in the past. Are you are making plans to reschedule your trips that you planned before the outbreak? Maybe you have work or family responsibility the is essential. If you must travel, here are some facts and options on how to protect yourself and others.
Staying safe while you travel
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends following these steps to protect yourself and others when you travel:
- Maintain a distance of 6 feet (2 meters) between you and others as much as possible.
- Avoid contact with anyone who is sick
- Limit contact with frequently touched surfaces, such as handrails, elevator buttons and kiosks. If you must touch these surfaces, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands afterward.
- Wear a cloth face mask.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean your hands often. It’s especially important after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they feel dry.
Double check local requirements and restrictions
Many countries, states and counties have different requirements and restrictions. Some requiring people to wear masks. Another is requiring those who have recently traveled to stay home and quarantine for 2 weeks.
Make sure to check any restrictions at your destination and anywhere else that you may stop at along the way. It is best to check the local state and local health department websites. Also, be aware that restrictions can change quickly. Make sure to keep checking websites.
Traveling by air
Most viruses don’t spread easily on airplanes. This is because of how the air is circulated and filtered. Although, a flight that is crowded can make social distancing very difficult. In addition, spending time in security lines and airport terminals can also make it hard to social distance.
All major airlines in the United States is requiring that crews and passengers wear cloth face coverings. Make sure to check the airlines and airports websites to see what they are doing to protect passengers.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has increased cleaning and disinfecting equipment and surfaces at screening checkpoints. If you haven’t flown since the pandemic began, you’ll notice some changes:
- TSA officers wearing masks and gloves, and practicing social distancing.
- TSA officers changing gloves after each pat-down.
- Plastic shields at document checking podium, bag search and drop off locations.
- Fewer travelers and, as a result, fewer open screening lanes.
Also be aware that the TSA has made a number of changes to the screening process:
- Travelers may wear masks during screening. However, TSA employees may ask travelers to adjust masks for identification purposes.
- Instead of handing boarding passes to TSA officers, travelers should place passes (paper or electronic) directly on the scanner and then hold them up for inspection.
- Each traveler may have one container of hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces (about 350 milliliters) in a carry-on bag. These containers will need to be taken out for screening.
- Food items should be transported in a plastic bag and placed in a bin for screening. Separating food from carry-on bags lessens the likelihood that screeners will need to open bags for inspection.
- Personal items such as keys, wallets and phones should be placed in carry-on bags instead of bins. This reduces the handling of these items during screening.
Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds directly before and after going through screening.
Traveling by car
If you want to travel by car, you can have more control over what and whom you encounter. Any stops that you make, you will need to be cautious.
Here are things to consider before you hit the road:
- Make as few stops as possible. If you get tired, pull over and rest.
- Pack plenty of cloth face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in an easily accessible spot so that you can use them as necessary.
- Pack snacks and water. This will keep your interactions with restaurants and grocery stores to a minimum.
- When you need to get gas, use a disinfectant wipe on handles or buttons before you touch them. After fueling, use hand sanitizer. And when you get to where you’re going, use soap and water to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- If you choose to pick up a meal on the road, opt for restaurants that offer drive-thru or curbside service.
Other forms of transportation
If you decide to take another form of transportation like a bus or train make sure to keep 6 feet away from others. If you are sitting for a long period of time next to someone it can put you at a higher risk of getting the Virus. Keep to the precaution mentioned above for protecting yourself during travel.
If you plan to use a ride-hailing service, don’t sit in the front seat near the driver. Consider handling your own bags during pickup and drop-off. Avoid coming into contact with frequently touched surfaces before cleaning them. If you’ll be using public transportation, maintain social distancing, wear a mask, and use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after reaching your destination.
Hotels and other lodging
The hotel industry recognizes that travelers are concerned about the coronavirus and safety. Check any major chain’s website for information about how it’s protecting guests and staff. Some best practices include:
- Enhanced cleaning of public areas, elevators, guest rooms, as well as food preparation and laundry areas
- Social distancing measures in the lobby, at the front desk and in parking areas
- Masking of staff and guests
- Contactless payment
- Focused employee training in the following:
- Hand-washing procedures
- Cleaning and disinfecting protocols
- Use of personal protective equipment
- Protocol in the event that a guest becomes ill, which should include temporarily closing the guest’s room for cleaning and disinfecting
Another important suggestion is to call the hotel before hand and ask for a room that have been vacant for at least 24 hours.
Once you arrive at your room or rental, disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, countertops, tables, desks, phones, remote controls and faucets. Wash plates, glasses, cups and silverware (other than pre-wrapped plastic items) before using.
Make a packing list
When it’s time to pack for your trip, grab any medicines you may need on your trip and these essential safe-travel supplies:
- Cloth face masks
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)
- Disinfectant wipes (at least 70% alcohol) for surfaces
Remember safety first
Even the best plans may need to be set aside when illness strikes. If you feel sick before your planned travel, stay home except to get medical care.