Reconsidering if Travel is Safe During the Pandemic
2020 began with an awful turn of events with the COVID-19 outbreak. The virus first appeared in China (at the end of 2019) and quickly spread to almost every other country on Earth. Now the world is under incredible duress from the fear of someone sneezing, coughing or even human touch.
The travel industry which employed almost 10% of the worlds workers has come to an abrupt stop. The schools have been shut down, businesses have neen forcefully closed and many, if not most countries have put their people on stay-at-home lock-down. When they say “we are all in this together” they mean the people of every country are facing their lives and businesses being suddenly upended. We all have questions, and we fear an unseen common enemy that knows no boundaries.
While we hope for effective treatments and hopefully a vaccine, we also understand that humans are natural wanderers and the world has become a global village. With this in mind, it seems like simply containing the virus is not a realistic option. We will need to find a way to manage the risk and somehow co-exist with it. The experts tell us to practice safe distancing, wash your hands regularly and only socialize with people whom you know have been self-isolating. Yet, the question becomes at what point do you go out into the world?
Its hard times indeed, but this too shall pass. While there is no 100% effective method of not getting the virus, you can reduce the chance with a series of necessary precautions especially when it comes to traveling.
If You Enjoy Traveling, at What Point do You Venture Out?
Even those who do not travel are concerned about the extra set of precautions, but let’s focus on the travelers, for now, shall we?
What Did We Learn From the 1918 Pandemic?
It’s not that one should have a cleaning OCD, but in times like this, one might be well advised to keep disinfectant wipes plus a sanitizer with them at all times. Planes in function are disinfecting the interior of the cabin but despite the effort, you should not take the chances. You can use antiseptic wipes to clean the seat belts, the handles or even the glass holder of the seat.
If you are out in open and can’t resist the urge of buying something, do carry an antiseptic spray and do not hesitate to use it either.
Get Fond of Healthy Habits
This one is especially for the smokers (sorry guys) as they have shown to be twice as likely to experience a life threatening infection with the virus. This may be the moment in time to reduce or completely stop your nicotine intake because both Covid-19 and smoking attack your lungs.
Make sure you still move your body by exercising while in self-isolation. The combination of a proper balanced diet and exercising will help build up your immune system.
Even during traveling, you can do it. If you are already on a plane (for short hour flight) I would suggest avoiding eating the food. Prioritize your habits on a positive note.
Avoid Using In-flight Lavatories (if possible!)
It is easier said than done, I know, but generally speaking a washroom in the airport terminal is twice as clean as the one on your airplane. Cleaning of toilets is far better in airport terminals and not to forget, has lesser intervals than one on the flight. If you cannot wait while in flight and feel the need to use to the lavatory, keep your antiseptic wipes and sanitizer with you. Do not take any chances! Clean the toilet seat, the water faucet and the door handle too. If you don’t have antiseptic wipes, simply use wet a paper towel.
I don’t mean to be paranoid with you guys, but in our new reality of Covid-19 it’s better to stay safe than be sorry.
Why Even Consider Traveling?
Timing is everything. We will somehow learn to carry-on in a new world with this virus. The global medical research community is laser focused on developing treatments and hopefully a preventive vaccine. But, until then is it worth the risk? In the coming months we will hear about how the Travel & Hospitality industry are taking steps to make it safer to fly, dine out and experience the world. Stay informed about changes the industry makes to make travel safer.
This is a resilient group of industrious workers. There are over 9 million people directly employed in Travel and tourism in the USA and another 6.8 million indirectly employed in businesses reliant on a healthy travel industry (USTravel.org). Internationally travel and tourism support nearly 10% of the world’s employment (Skift.com) providing almost 300 million people with employment. Travel is the lifeblood for many localities and areas. Tourists visiting and spending their money is how many locals are able to make a living.
When Will It Be Okay to Travel Again?
To be honest, I can’t tell you that. We will travel again, but we will look for signals that the risk is reduced before we board our next airplane.
Yet, the Pandemic changes the entire equation. Suddenly, tourists are not welcome as some may carry the virus. Tourist destinations like Hawaii and Lake Tahoe are publicly telling people to stay home and do not visit for fear of spreading the virus in their area.
So when will it be safe to travel. When there is a treatment reduce the effect of the virus or a vaccine to prevent it. However, we will begin to learn to co-exist with Covid-19 as life does not stop. Bills need to be paid and we become smarter about how we live and stay as safe as possible.
Things to Pack
If you were on your travel spree to warmer countries, like the South Pacific, Middle East or Africa, then you must have packed lightly. Tank tops, Cami trousers and sandals are preferable right? I’m about to burst your bubble but take a U-turn to buy a full-sleeved shirt and a full-length jeans/pants and sneakers or boots that cover your feet.
If you are in need to travel due to any case of emergency, keep the wipes, disinfectant soaps, and hand sanitizers with extra water bottles. While you are at it, get travel insurance as well. In case you do get sick on your traveling spree you will need to cover your medical expenses.
Keep Washing Your Hands
How many times do you practice a thorough hand washing? Not enough, but now as we know the virus is spreading via touch and the main line of defense is to wash your hands frequently and properly. Lather the soap through your fingers and nails while crisscrossing the wash on both hands for at least 20 seconds.
It’s not like a virus is going to jump in the air, but keeping hands to yourself is utterly important especially if you are traveling on a flight. Go for a window seat, as you are less likely to come in contact with any person. Before you eat or drink and afterward wash your hands properly or use a sanitizer if on a flight.
Keep an Eye on Yourself and Surroundings
If you travel in the near future, you need to be a responsible citizen as well as a good traveler in time of pandemic crisis. I also urge you to keep in check with government travel advisories. But that is always encouraged when planning an international trip properly, virus or no virus. Be smart, be vigilant and observe your surroundings. Safe travels my friend.