Let’s get one thing out of the way: 2020 has been a hellish year, and I’m glad it’s coming to an end. Sure, January 1st, 2021 won’t magically make the pandemic go away, but eh, we can always dream.
Nearly a year ago, a new virus was discovered in Wuhan, China. And a few months later, the virus hit all parts of the world. No one knew it then, but this would become one of the biggest pandemics humanity has lived through since the 1918 Spanish Flu (which was actually not Spanish).
Today, after months and months in lockdown, most of us are used to social distancing, working from home, and wearing masks wherever we go. However, some of us have to travel for one reason or another, and we can’t postpone those essential travels even with the coronavirus wreaking havoc around the world.
So, if you have to go through the experience of traveling during COVID-19 times, check out the upcoming tips. Following them will keep you as safe as humanly possible while taking a bus for long hours or flying in a closed tin can with, sometimes, hundreds of people.
1. Wear the proper mask
We all bust out our cloth masks when we’re going for a grocery run, and most of the time, that will be safe enough. However, when you’re spending a few hours on the same plane or train or bus with a bunch of strangers, you might want to rethink going with the cloth option.
This is because, as safe as they might feel, cloth masks can’t protect you if you’re in close proximity to a person carrying the virus, even if they’re asymptomatic.
In a situation like this, you’ll want to be as safe as possible, which is why you should go with stronger options, such as N95 and N99 masks and surgical masks. You can also wear goggles or a face shield, which will protect your eyes (since you can also catch the virus through them) and offer you another layer of safety.
2. Test yourself three times
That’s before, during, and after your trip. This way, you’ll make sure you haven’t caught the virus while traveling or passed it to people when on a plane. Also, before you get tested for the first time, make sure to self-isolate for 14 days, since you can show a negative result if you take the test during your first few days of catching COVID-19.
As a precaution, you should also test yourself during your trip if tests are available where you are, and after your trip to make sure you’re still virus-free.
And, same advice as above: if you can, quarantine after your trip as well.
And remember, just because you tested negative once, it doesn’t mean you can’t catch the virus or are immune to it. So, even if you know you don’t have COVID-19, still make sure to keep yourself and everyone around you safe.
3. Don’t eat out if you can
The chances of getting infected are higher in places with a lot of people, and that means restaurants and cafes. So, getting takeout or cooking your own food is the safest option while you’re traveling during a pandemic.
If you still want to eat out, choose a restaurant with an outdoor space, which is relatively safer than indoor ones. And if you’re paranoid like me, you can check inside a restaurant before ordering.
Where I live, you can usually see inside the kitchen of a lot of restaurants. If I notice that the cooks are not wearing their masks correctly or not wearing gloves or if I see that the servers are not sporting masks, I leave. Remember, no food is worth your health.
4. Keep hand sanitizer on you
This is a given during pandemic times, but so many people forget (even me). So, I found a little method to always have sanitizer on me: I just buy several small bottles (or packs of sanitizing wet wipes) and I keep one in each of my bags and backpacks.
This way, I can always clean my hands, even when there is no soap available (which can happen in a lot of places). Still, keep in mind that soap and warm water are always better than hand sanitizer. So, always wash your hands when you get the chance.
5. Sanitize your seat on the plane
I don’t know if you’re aware, but airplane seats are absolutely disgusting. And I mean vile levels of disgusting. They’re full of germs and they’re never thoroughly cleaned.
So, when you board, and before you get comfortable, make sure to use sanitizing wipes to clean your seat, seatbelt buckle, headrest, screen, seatback, tray table, and armrest.
6. Check the COVID-19 rates at your destination
Keeping an eye on infection numbers at your destination is important. Not only will this give you an idea of the situation there, but it’ll also inform you of the places that are the most hit by the virus. With this knowledge, you can avoid those areas completely or make sure to take more precautions when you’re there.
If you’re traveling to a country that is currently ravaged by the virus (such as the US or the UK), you’ll be more likely to be infected. And that’s one more reason to get tested and self-quarantined after your trip.
If you’re flying to another country, you have to also remember to check the embassy’s website of that place. Right now, a lot of countries are banning people from certain areas completely, even if they have the right visas. You don’t want to buy an expensive flight ticket and then get denied boarding at the airport.
7. Never let your guard down
Even if you’re somewhere that has low infection rates. The virus in its nature is tricky and sneaky, and if you ever get too relaxed about these guidelines, you might end up catching it.
So, always follow social distancing, always wear a mask, and never touch your face or eat until you’ve washed your hands.
I personally wouldn’t be traveling right now unless it was extremely essential, as in the case of a family death or something similar.
And so should you. Hopefully, it’ll never come to that and you’ll be able to stay put until the pandemic ends. But if you absolutely have to fly somewhere, then follow the aforementioned tips and stay safe.