Traveling Safely During a Pandemic

It’s been a rough couple of months for families with young children. Travel plans may not be what we planned, but some families are getting creative on what we can safely do.

At the end of the day, it’s your personal decision on if and how you choose to travel this summer, but asking yourself some very important questions can help decrease anxiety and add a few safe measures into the plan.

Is COVID-19 spreading where you’re choosing to travel? There are some states with spiking cases. I’d be wary and cautious of travel there.

Is COVID-19 spreading in your community at a high rate? You also want to remain responsible during your travels. Even if you don’t have symptoms, the reality is you can spread the virus.

Will you or those you are traveling with be within 6 feet of others during or after your trip?
Being within 6 feet of others does increase your chances of getting infected and infecting others.

Are you traveling with or to high risk individuals? We know that older adults and individuals who have serious underlying medical conditions are at higher risk of complications after contracting COVID.

Does the state or local government where you live or at your destination require you to stay home for 14 days after traveling? Some states (such as NY) and even countries (like Canada) may require people who have recently traveled to stay home for 14 days. For some families, this could be a deal-breaker so plan wisely.

If you are traveling by plane, do the airline policies contain appropriate caution for your standards? Choose an airline that you feel comfortable with. Pickings are slim as airlines are cutting down on the number of flights a day to and from airports, but try to pick a time or day that isn’t going to be very busy.

If you’re traveling, understand that airports, bus and train stations, and rest stops are places that have more people and more “high touch” surfaces. Social distancing can also be difficult in some of these circumstances.

When it comes to air travel, you can come in contact with frequently touched surfaces. Luckily, most viruses and germs don’t spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes but consider that it’s going to be difficult to socially distance if it’s a crowded flight. Also consider, the length of the flight which would increase risk if you have to sit near others (within 6 feet) during this time.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has increased cleaning and disinfecting equipment and surfaces at screening checkpoints. TSA officers wearing masks and gloves and ideally, changing gloves after each pat-down. Each traveler is also allowed one container of hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces in a carry-on bag.

Car travel and specifically RV travel may be safer at this time. It’s easier to limit exposure to others with driving. With RV travel, you won’t be exposed to others during food and bathroom breaks. However, if you have young children, strapping in a car seat are often not an option on an RV so this wouldn’t be safe. When you need to get gas, I recommend using a disinfectant wipe on handles or buttons before you touch them. After fueling, also use hand sanitizer!

If you travel, my #1 tip (well #1 and #2) is wash your hands, especially after being near a public place or after touching high-touch surfaces, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth!

Consider anticipating your travel needs:

  • If you don’t have easy access to a place to wash hands, make sure you have sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol.
  • Bring a cloth face covering or mask to wear.
  • Prepare and pack food for your trip, especially if you’re not comfortable eating at airport restaurants.
  • Bring along disinfectant wipes. If using the restroom, wipe down the toilet, handle, and door lock.
  • Depending on where you’re staying (hotel versus with family), I would recommend sanitizing and wiping down hotel rooms as well. I would prioritize high touch surfaces like keys, TV remotes, night stands, handles on sinks and doors, the fridge (inside and out), light switches, cups and plates.
  • When it comes to activities when you arrive at your destination, try to avoid crowds.

If you find this incredibly stressful, then perhaps it’s best to re-evaluate what your level of comfort is. Don’t fly if the idea of being on an airplane overwhelms you. Don’t travel somewhere if you have to stay at a hotel if that makes you nervous. Stay within your state if you’re nervous about traveling to a state that has “looser” precautions. At the end of the day, you take trips to form memories, to relax, to have fun. If that’s not going to happen with the trip you had in mind, we may have to be flexible for this summer, but your peace of mind as a parent and the safety of your family is what matters most.

Source: CDC

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