Traveling is pretty tempting right now after months of quarantine, but also presents potential health risks to yourself and others. Although leisure travel should be avoided for the most part, I also feel that there are precautions that can significantly reduce the risk of transmission during our current pandemic. If you do find yourself willing or needing to travel, here are some simple strategies to help you do so safer. Don’t forget to wear your mask constantly when you find yourself in close proximity to others, both indoors and outside, and especially in the airport and airplane.
Get on the Road and Find the Hidden Gems
Getting in your own car and seeing new sights puts you largely in control of your safety. It allows you greater flexibility of avoiding crowds and finding safer places to stop. Targeting destinations that are less visited in the United States can provide a nice contrast to home while also avoiding too many crowds. Don’t forget to keep wipes in the car with you for gas stations, tolls, and bathroom stops.
Make Adjustments at Hotels
1. Avoid elevators by requesting a lower floor
2. Take advantage of contact-less check-in
3. Decline housekeeping (you can still request extra towels, etc.)
4. Avoid the pool or gym unless it’s totally empty. (when I did use a hotel gym last week, I touched all equipment and door handles with sanitizing wipes and wiped down equipment afterwards--there were also only 3 people staying at the entire hotel)
5. If staying at an AirBnB, request cleaning protocols from the host prior to making a reservation
6. If your travel goals are centered around swimming, get an AirBnB with a private pool, rather than staying in a resort.
7. Research what amenities are closed or have changed in a hotel so your expectations are accurate prior to arrival. Some hotels have closed restaurants, adapted breakfast offerings, and closed pools or gyms.
8. Stay in one place longer: Although this is counterintuitive to the idea of road trips, if you are able to stay in one hotel for multiple nights, that will carry less risk than changing rooms every night.
Visit Popular Places on a Weekday
Beaches, national parks, and other popular attractions are likely to see much less crowding on weekdays. I recently traveled to the Grand Canyon on a Friday morning and saw less than 50 people in the entire park all day! If you have the flexibility to travel during the week, you will likely be able to avoid large crowds, improving your chance to distance from others.
If You Do Fly...
1. Choose an airline that is blocking middle seats: So far, Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest have committed to reducing their capacity until September, while Alaska and Frontier have committed to reducing capacity until at least the end of July. (hopefully this will be extended). It is also not coincidence that both Delta and Southwest have the most flexible policies in changing your ticket as well.
2. Choose an early morning flight: Sanitation and clearing on all flights are being taken much more seriously by all airlines. New protocols include requiring masks, providing sanitizer for customers, and changing air filters frequently. However, getting the first flight of the day, ensures that the plane has likely sat for a few hours without passengers. Of course, there are exceptions, so make sure you check flightaware.com to track where your flight is coming from.
3. Choose routes and destinations that are not extremely popular right now. This is certainly not always consistent, but you can use your airline app to check how full your flight is. Many airlines are allowing flexibility in rebooking your plans, in case you do end up on a full flight not to your liking.
4. Be aware of the entrance and quarantine requirements wherever you fly. Just because a flight is operating doesn’t mean passengers are immune to national or local laws. For example, Alaska, Canada, or Hawaii have really strict restrictions in place for travelers. Simply purchasing a ticket for a flight doesn’t guarantee your ability to board the plane if you aren’t prepared to follow the entrance protocols mandated by the government.
5. Avoid touching things at the airport and inside the airplane. This may seem obvious, but a little awareness of where your hands are can go a long way in avoiding unnecessary transmission of germs. Sanitizing your luggage periodically as well as your seat can also help reduce transmission.