Since the start of the pandemic, most people have avoided travel whenever possible. However, there might be a situation that requires you to hop on a plane or take a train. People with work or personal obligations, for instance, may have to travel at some point.
If that’s the case for you, it is important that you follow safety guidelines for traveling and also pack up on the essential items, like travel hand sanitizer and some face masks. So before you head out for your trip, make sure you refresh yourself on these safety best practices for traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Essential Products You Need to Pack
Don’t forget to pack up these items for your upcoming trip
Before you go, you need to pack up on the essentials:
- Cloth Face Mask
- Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer
- Disinfectant Wipes
These items will help protect you as well as those around you whether you are at the airport, sitting at a rest stop, or waiting in the train station. Some product lines are more effective than others based on their material or substance, so make sure you are investing in high-quality masks, hand sanitizers, and wipes.
Cloth Face Mask
To help combat the spread of the coronavirus, most airlines are requiring passengers to wear face masks. If you don’t already have a mask or you have been trying to use a scarf as a mask, you need to purchase a proper one before you embark on your trip.
When it comes to finding a mask, most people want to know what type of mask is the most effective. You might have seen some people wearing a medical mask around while others are opting for a homemade cotton mask. Let’s review some of the most common face masks we have seen throughout the pandemic:
- N95: Designed for healthcare personnel, N95 respirators are designed to filter out at least 95% of extremely tiny particles, including bacteria and viruses. Out of the rest of the masks, N95 are the most effective. However, they are not meant to be used outside of healthcare settings. Some N95’s are built with exhalation valves, but they should not be used in settings where a sterilized environment must be maintained.
- Surgical Mask: A surgical mask is a disposable, lightweight mask typically used by healthcare professionals. When a N95 respirator is not available, someone might wear a surgical mask instead. Surgical masks can filter out droplets and large particles to protect the user’s mouth and nose. However, they might not be as effective in blocking out smaller particles.
- Cotton Mask: Researchers tend to agree that a tight-weave, 100% cotton mask is best for non-medical workers. A mask with two-layers of fabric and a built-in pocket for a filter are especially effective. You can purchase these masks at a store or make them yourself with your own cotton fabric.
- Cloth Covering: Some people have fashioned cloth face coverings from bandanas, scarves, and shirts. In general, these face coverings are not as effective as regular masks. That being said, there are some methods you can use to make them more effective. Adding a second layer as well as ear loops, for instance, can help turn it into an actual mask rather than a barely-passing face covering. Even just folding your scarf or bandana can give it extra protection. But if you would rather not bother with these extra steps, it’s best to just purchase an actual face mask.
It’s also crucial for you to wear your mask properly. Wearing a mask below your nose or off of your chin isn’t going to do much in the way of catching large particle droplets from your mouth. Even with a mask on, you need to avoid touching your face and remember to wash your hands before and after you put it on.
Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer
If you are flying, you can pack some hand sanitizer in your carry on bag or checked luggage. For now, the TSA is letting passengers carry bottles up to 12 ounces. However, any containers that are larger than 3.4 ounces will need to be screened separately.
When searching for a bottle of hand sanitizer, you need to make special note of its ingredients. The FDA and CDC recommend hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol. They are also warning consumers against purchasing hand sanitizers containing high levels of toxic methanol. Methanol poisoning can cause symptoms such as nausea and weakness. Some consumers have reportedly been attempting to make their own hand sanitizer solutions. However, it is best to just purchase hand sanitizer at the store to avoid accidentally harming yourself.
To keep themselves safe from germs on an airplane or train, most passengers have started to bring disinfectant wipes with them on trips. When cleaning your area, make sure you get your own seat as well the back of the seat in front of you, your armrests, and your tray. Depending on what type of wipe you use, you might have to wait a few minutes before touching anything.
Wipes are also great for keeping high touch surfaces, like your phone or laptop keyboard clean. However, you should be careful about what types of wipes you use to clean your phone with. Regular disinfectant wipes typically aren’t suited for screens. Some tech brands also have specific guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting their products. Apple, for instance, recommends that people use solutions with 70% isopropyl alcohol and to use a soft cloth free of lint to wipe down the screen.
Finished packing? Before you leave, you should brush up on the recommended travel safety practices.
Best Practices for Traveling Safety
Tips for staying safe during your travels
If you travel during the pandemic, there are some steps you need to take to protect yourself as well as anyone you encounter during your trip. Most places, such as airports and hotels, have numerous guidelines in place to keep their visitors safe, so it’s crucial that you follow them. Here are our top tips and advice on traveling safely:
- Postpone or cancel your trip if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 such as a fever, sore throat, chills, or fatigue
- To lower your chances of becoming infected by another passenger, try to choose a window seat on an airplane or train
- If traveling by car, try to limit the number of stops you take
- Pack your own food when possible to avoid having to order food at rest stops or restaurants within an airport
- Try to stay at least six feet away from others and keep your mask on at all times
- Remember to wash or sanitize your hands after coming in touch with any surfaces
- Bring a handheld fan to keep yourself cool without having to remove your mask
- When washing your hands, make sure you wash them thoroughly with soap for at least 20 seconds
While stores are opening again and some people are going back to work, that doesn’t mean that the virus has been eradicated. At the earliest, states are expecting to receive a vaccine by November 1st. But until an official vaccine is created and distributed, passengers must still practice social distancing and other safety practices for combating the spread of COVID-19.
Pros and Cons of Different Modes of Transportation
Make sure you choose your method of travel carefully
Not all modes of transportation present the same number of risks. Flying to your destination is much riskier than driving alone in your car. However, there will certainly be some situations where flying is more practical. That’s why it is crucial for you to weigh both the pro’s and con’s of different modes of transportation.
One obvious pro of flying is that it tends to be faster than traveling by train, car, or bus. However, you still have to check your bags and get through security. Because airlines recommend that you get there about 40 minutes to an hour before departure, you might find yourself waiting at the airport for a while. Social distancing on crowded flights can be particularly difficult, which is why flying is so risky at the moment.
Train or Bus
Train and bus stations can also be crowded. Maintaining social distancing will be key while you wait in the station. While most stations have enhanced their cleaning protocols, wearing a mask and washing your hands will still be essential as well.
If you are able to drive alone or with a small number of people from your household, you will have an easier time keeping yourself isolated. Driving is also a more practical option financially if you don’t have to travel a long distance. That being said, you still need to remember to practice social distancing and to sanitize or wash your hands when stopping at a gas station or rest stop.
With the pandemic still in full force, it’s crucial for you to continue to follow social distancing guidelines and sanitizing practices. Not only will this protect you, but it will also protect your loved ones and anyone else you encounter during your travels. How have you been staying safe during the pandemic? Let us know!