We're seeing travel restrictions lift little by little depending on the country. At this rate, we may be seeing travel resume for some of the world before the end of the year. I know everyone is itching to go on holiday, but we're not out of the woods yet. We'll need to travel with a different mindset than previously. For that reason, there are a few things that you will now want to travel with at all times.
Hotels and airlines are increasing their awareness and putting in more work to sanitise their facilities and equipment to insure safety for employees and guests alike. This will include companies abiding by CDC and government recommendations for cleaning protocols, more availability of hand sanitisers, changes of luggage storage protocols, increased contactless payment (decrease in cash use), and maintaining the two meter distance rule between customers.
A close friend's company, Selina, as well as other hotels and airlines explain how they are reassuring their customers on their websites. These are all welcomed necessities, but you may want to take an extra step to insure the safety of yourself and your fellow travellers by bringing a few things yourself on your trip.
This page may contain affiliate marketing links.
First, you have to be honest with yourself of what's going on around you. It won't help you to live in a cloud of wishful thinking and oblivion of the truth. The truth is that the likelihood of someone traveling with you - through the airport, the flight, the train, a ride share, or in the same hotel - will have a contagious virus whether they're symptomatic or not.
Honestly, this has always been the case especially during the influenza season. But now we're faced with more aggressive strains of viruses whether that be due to drug resistance and/or genetic mutations. It doesn't hurt to take extra measures during this time because we can't be afraid to travel for the rest of our lives.
1. Bleach Wipes
It's important that you disinfect the frequently used hard surfaces on transportation vehicles such as arm rests and pull out tables. You also want to disinfect the often used surfaces on hotel rooms such as door handles, toilet seats, and table tops as long as they are nonporous surfaces since you don't want to damage property while doing this.
Keep in mind not to trust just any "surface wipe". When I do a search for these words and read the actual ingredients, most of them contain no actual germicidal or bacteriostatic ingredients. They're merely moist wipes.
Ideally, we're looking for ingredients that actually stop the bacteria and viruses such as dimethylethylbenzyl ammonium chloride and isopropyl alcohol. Remember to always wear gloves before touching these wipes since they can really damage your skin especially with prolonged contact. Be sure to keep the surfaces wet with these wipes for at least 5 minutes before wiping off with warm water.
2. Face Masks
This has been a commonly used commodity for years in many cities and countries where haze has been an ongoing problem. Now, it'll be a more commonly used item for the entire world. You may or may not realise it, but most people spit when they're speaking. Some people also have not learned to cough or sneeze into their elbow to keep their germs contained. Since viruses and bacteria are spread often through droplet contact, we want to cover our nose and mouth to protect others from our saliva and vice versa.
Ideally, you want a mask that filters the air and is fitted well around your mouth and nose to create a seal for protection. We know this as the N95 mask, which I know from working with them while compounding intravenous solutions that they only work if you're professionally fitted for them. Since they are difficult to come by at the moment and useless if not fitted appropriately, something is better than nothing.
Look to fabric masks for the time being as the CDC recommends on their website. The fabric clothes are meant only for you to minimally protect others from your germs in the case that you may be sick while out in public. It is by no means fully protecting others and yourself, but it is better than nothing.
3. Hand Sanitiser (Are they worth bringing?)
Contrary to popular belief, hand sanitisers are not the be-all-end-all substitute to soap. Hand sanitisers are made with a wide range of concentrations of alcohol. For hand sanitisers to have germicidal activity, it really needs high concentrations of alcohol (70-95% depending on the germ) and that's not what you're always going to find in hand sanitisers. Even then, it can't fight against all viruses, fungi, and bacteria including the severe ones - norovirus (culprit of stomach flu), clostridium difficile (severe diarrhoea infection), and so forth. You can read more about this on the CDC website. Despite hand sanitisers being all the craze right now, it can never take the place of the traditional route of washing your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Don't handle food or touch your face without washing your hands with soap and water first. Hand sanitiser is not an ample substitute to prevent the ingestion of dangerous germs.
As I mentioned earlier, there is an unintentional spread of saliva when people speak. You want to cover all orifices from contamination including your eyes, mouth, and nose since those are the routes in which we usually get sick. Feel free to walk around with massively large construction goggles. Or go for the large rim sunglasses which will do the job of protecting you while in style.
This will be a regular practice if it's not already in your household. Many of the countries that have gotten in front of the battle with this pandemic have adopted the practice of daily body temperature checks since a fever is a top indicator for infections. As you go about your holiday, it's a good idea to monitor your temperature daily in the case you need to quarantine yourself and cut your holiday short. Remember, you're not only looking out for yourself, but you're also looking out for your neighbour.
Traveling can be exhausting even if it's exciting. When your body is tired, your immune system's defences may not be as strong as usual. My previous post called Five Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System references Vitamins C, E, and B6 as the vitamins you want to consume to boost your immune system based on Cleveland Clinic. Bring along multivitamins or other vitamin supplements that contain the daily dose of Vitamins C, E, and B6 and take it daily while you're on holiday. It's a habit I've been doing for years especially right before getting on a flight because I knew all of the germs I'd be exposed to on the flight. If you need a list of what foods contain these vitamins, make sure you take a look at my previous post here. You can look for these foods in the meals that you order out.
7. Dish Detergent
Whether you're staying at a hotel or at a home share such as Airbnb, you may end up using the glassware or silverware there. For that reason, it's smart to bring a small travel size bottle of dish detergent to sanitise those items before using them yourself. My rule of thumb when using public property is that there's always room for error.
Since humans are the ones disinfecting the rooms, there's always a chance that something slipped through the cracks and was forgotten about. With glassware, dishes, and silverware are all coming in contact with things we're ingesting, I wouldn't give anyone the benefit of the doubt in this case. It only takes another 20 seconds to rewash what you'll be using to eat. Honestly, I've been doing this for a few years now, but have learned that many people do not. It's another step you can take to protect yourself against the spread of germs.
8. RFID Chip Credit Cards
More restaurants, hotels, and public establishments are moving towards contactless payment and actually refusing cash. This makes sense since we all know cash is full of germs and passing it from one person to another is just another medium to spread those germs.
I was surprised but unprepared for how much of Europe and Asia use contactless forms of payment. In comparison to those continents, the States rarely uses contactless payment. Even I still own credit cards that do not have the RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip. The establishments that do use the RFID chip for payment still require the customer to touch the gadget to swipe or insert the chip, which means it's not truly contactless.
Before you start to travel, request the RFID chip credit card from your credit card company, if you don't already have it. Make sure you set up your phone for contactless payment through Google Pay, Apply Pay, or Samsung Pay. It's far more sanitary for both the server and client to limit physical contact. Since we have the technology, we should use it to our advantage.
When you're planning your holidays, make sure you check out what the hotels and airlines say about their cleaning protocols so that you can see if there are any gaps in disinfecting that you may need to fill. Whether you're staying local or taking a flight, practice these hygienic steps to keep you and your neighbours safe.
We cannot forgo traveling forever nor can we be frozen in fear. It's innate for us to all want to explore. Especially for those with family and loved ones overseas, you'll need to take the leap again at some point in the near future. Let's just do so in the most hygienic and safe way we know. Leave comments below if you have more suggestions about traveling.