With the holiday season well underway, you may be wondering how to reduce exposure to COVID-19 when traveling. While the best answer is to not travel at all, for those who do decide to venture out, here are a few steps you can take to reduce your chance of exposure.
First and foremost, if you’re feeling sick or have been around someone who has recently tested positive for the virus, stay home. There is no reason to put others at risk, even to visit your grandparents whom you haven’t seen in over a year.
If you’re feeling healthy and are confident you haven’t been exposed to the virus, there are a couple of things to do before heading to the airport. First, assess the situation at your destination. What is the new case count in the past seven days? What restrictions are in place? Will you need to quarantine for a set amount of time upon arrival? The situation can change rapidly at any destination, so make sure you have the most up-to-date information before leaving home.
Second, there are a few precautionary items you should bring with you:
- Cloth mask
- Latex gloves
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60%)
- Disinfectant wipes (at least 70%)
- Enough food in case restaurants and cafes aren’t open in airport terminals
Once you know you’re healthy enough to travel, have taken a good look at where you’re headed and have gathered each of these items, be sure to follow these tips recommended by the public health experts:
- Wear your mask and keep it on. Even outside of an airport, you should always wear a mask in a public setting. Thankfully, the ventilation systems inside planes are usually pretty good at reducing the spread of viral diseases. However, social distancing can be nearly impossible once in flight, so it’s still a good idea to keep your mask on at all times (Your airline will probably require it.)
- Maintain six feet of social distance from others when you can. Before boarding the plane, it should be much easier to remain 6 feet apart from other travelers. Be cautious, be patient and let others pass first when you can
- Avoid touching surfaces. From handrails to bathroom stalls, high-contact surfaces are prime for the spread of the virus. If there is no way to avoid touching a surface, make sure to wear latex gloves and have your hand sanitizer ready.
- Avoid touching your face. The eyes, mouth and nose are where people commonly contract viral diseases. Reducing the number of times you touch your face will help reduce your risk of infection.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Even if you’re wearing a mask, bringing your arm up to cover your mouth is a nice extra buffer.
- Wash your hands. This can’t be said enough. This can’t be done enough.
If you’re traveling alone or in a small party, you may also consider upgrading your ticket. There is almost always room in first- or business-class cabins, with larger seats and fewer passengers. This may reduce your potential exposure to COVID-19.