It’s officially the holiday season and people everywhere are finalizing plans to join their loved ones for the holidays. We had a brief moment of what some would call a respite, with lower rates of COVID-19 infections in some parts of the world, but now, the number of cases is on the rise again, and some countries are entering a second quarantine to prepare for the second wave. If your plans haven’t been impacted by the pandemic or you just want to know how to travel safely this holiday season during this new normal, here are a few precautions you can take.
Weigh the Risks
First, assess the situation from all angles before you purchase that ticket or embark on that six-hour drive to your family home. Are you confident that taking the appropriate steps will protect you and the people on the other end of the plane ride? Have the people you plan to celebrate the holidays with been careful throughout the pandemic? Is there anyone who you might be endangering at your destination, like an older or immunocompromised person?
Another thing to contemplate is the current policy for arriving travelers at your destination. If you are required to quarantine for a certain number of days upon entry, that might eat into your vacation significantly, resulting in a trip spent mostly in an isolation center instead of with family.
Plane, Train, or Automobile?
Driving is currently the safest form of travel in a pandemic, as it minimizes contact between you and others as long as you’re not stopping frequently for bathroom breaks and the like. Piloting your own vehicle also allows you to control the level of cleanliness within that space without having to account for contamination by outside parties.
If you will be flying, taking a bus, or traveling by train, do your due diligence beforehand. Research the transportation companies response to the pandemic as well as precautionary measures they have implemented to keep their staff and customers safe. Delta Airlines, for instance, blocks off middle seats, caps the number of passengers who can fly on a single-aircraft, has improved boarding procedures, strictly enforces mask use, and conducts elaborate cleaning procedures before and after flights. Delta currently ranks highest in a comparison of airlines with the best COVID-19 safety policies.
@wanderingbostoneaterDAY 2: Moving cross country via Amtrak from Boston to San Francisco. ##amtrak ##sanfrancisco ##crosscountry ##vlog ##travelinspo ##fyp ##bopo♬ Up Beat (Married Life) – Kenyi
Amtrak also limits bookings to allow for social distancing onboard, enforces face coverings, and has transitioned to fully contactless service. For extra protection onboard a train, consider a sleeper roomette or sit in the Quiet Car, where noise is restricted, as speaking releases 50 times the amount of particles compared to simply breathing.
And Of Course, the 3 W’s
Traveling in the enclosed spaces of buses, trains, and airplanes is a cause for concern because of the lack of ventilation. By now, we all know that the risk of contagion is highest in areas with restricted airflow. With air or ground transportation, this is exacerbated by the duration of time spent in said place, and also by the disparity in safety habits practiced by others traveling during this pandemic. In these situations, it’s imperative that a mask or other protective face covering is worn at all times to reduce the possibility of inhaling infected particles as well as to protect fellow passengers from any droplets you might eject if you are infected but asymptomatic. While masks do not absolutely prevent infection, combined with regular handwashing and social distancing, they do help to minimize the spread of the virus.
Try as much as you can not to touch any surfaces. And when you do, disinfect your hands immediately after with hand sanitizer if you cannot wash with soap and water. Bring your own food and beverages, and try to use drive-through or curbside pickup options if you must purchase food. As you make your way, stay vigilant when you pass through crowded places like airport security checkpoints and waiting areas.
If you do travel, make sure to isolate for 14 days upon your return, to protect others from any potential COVID-19 exposure during your travels. At the first sign of any symptoms, follow the recommendations from your local health department.
Better Safe Than Sorry
If you are especially susceptible to infection due to factors such as age or underlying medical conditions, you should consider skipping travel and staying home this year. Look at the bigger picture—it’s much better to stay healthy and alive for future holiday gatherings rather than fatally endangering yourself or others for temporary enjoyment.