There’s no doubt about it: we live in a changed world. The coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic has changed everything from the way we interact to the way we work to, yes, the way we travel. In many places these days there are travel restrictions or outright bans in effect, and even after the pandemic passes, there will still be dangers and pockets of infection to be concerned about.
How, then, does one protect themselves when travel is a necessity? The first step is to not panic. Learn some simple precautions you can take and things you can do to protect yourself from infection and stay healthy while you’re on the road.
Know Your Risk Level
The first thing to know before you travel is what your risk level is. There are a number of folks who are at higher risk for infection or complications from the coronavirus. These include those over the age of 70, and those who have conditions such as diabetes or who are immunocompromised. If you fall into one of these groups, you’ll want to exercise additional care.
Know Where It’s Safe
The coronavirus is a pandemic, which means it’s been found all over the world, so it’s important to understand where the hot spots are. The World Health Organization maintains an ongoing dashboard that is updated daily (and sometimes more than once a day). This dashboard will show you where the most cases are, so you can make an educated decision where the safest places to travel might be.
Avoid Visibly Ill People
This may seem like common sense, but it can be tricky, especially if you’re on a plane, or in public spaces. You may need to kick up your situational awareness. If you’re in public and you see someone who is coughing, sneezing or otherwise exhibiting symptoms of an illness, give them their distance. By staying away from direct contact with people who are ill, you are limiting your own exposure.
Many viruses which we think of as airborne are actually carried on droplets from sneezing, coughing and even moist air from breath. These droplets generally tend to be a bit heavier than air, so they can only travel so far after being expelled. By giving sick people their distance, you reduce the chances of the droplets reaching you and getting into your system.
The Dreaded Term: Social Distancing
We have all heard the term “Social Distancing” bandied around. Some of us may even find the term depressing. The truth is, however, social distancing is the best way to protect yourself. Even if you are not around someone exhibiting symptoms, it’s best to keep a distance of about six feet between you and other people. Until the pandemic runs its course, avoid shaking hands, hugging, kissing and any other physical contact. This extra precaution can go a long way towards keeping you healthy in a time of infection.
Hand Hygiene Is Vital
We’ve also heard about proper handwashing techniques. Make sure whenever you touch another person, when you touch surfaces, handle merchandise or the like, wash your hands. When you wash your hands, do so for at least 20 seconds. Pay special attention to the backs of your hands, your thumbs, between your fingers and your fingertips.
The common wisdom is that you should wash your hands in about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. There are a number of memes that have traveled around indicating other songs that take about the same amount of time. Singing a song like this to yourself can make the process a bit more fun.
Be careful, though; while it’s a good idea to keep your hands clean and wash several times per day, washing them until you rub them raw or get cracked, bleeding, dry skin is not healthy. In fact, this can leave you open to illness. It’s important to find a balance between cleanliness and increased risk.
Don’t Touch Your Face
This is one of the most difficult things to do. If you think about it, we tend to rub our noses and eyes many times throughout the day. Unfortunately, this is also one of the most common and effective vectors for infection. Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth unless you have just washed your hands or used hand sanitizer.
Hand sanitizer is not a substitute for washing your hands, but it can go a long way while you’re on the go. When you use hand sanitizer, use the same technique as washing your hands. Don’t wipe your hands off when you’re done and don’t dry them, however. You need to let the hand sanitizer air dry to do its work. In addition, make sure the hand sanitizer you are using is at least 70% alcohol. Anything less isn’t as effective against COVID-19.
What About Masks?
Masks aren’t going to help you if you’re not sick. They keep germs in, not out. Don’t bother wearing a mask thinking that it’ll keep you from breathing in the virus — it won’t. The virus can still get in other ways. In addition, by using masks, you’re taking up a valuable resource that hospitals desperately need to help reduce infections and protect our healthcare workers on the front lines. If you’re sick, you can wear a mask, but if you’re sick, you shouldn’t be out in the first place. If you’re not sick, skip the mask.
Consider a Reschedule
Disease can spread rapidly on planes, cruise ships and in cramped quarters. Is your travel really necessary? If not, you may want to cancel or reschedule. There will be other opportunities to travel when the crisis has passed. Avoiding travel on public transport, planes, trains, cruise ships and the like may be the best way to stay healthy.
Bedbugs and Other Concerns
Of course, COVID-19 isn’t the only threat when traveling. There are plenty of other concerns, like bed bugs in hotel rooms. To avoid such concerns, investigate hotels before booking. Read reviews online. Call the hotel and ask about any issues in the past, and what control measures they take.
While in the hotel, inspect your mattress and furniture, looking for signs of bed bugs like the bugs themselves, a musty smell or black spots. Use luggage racks instead of putting your bags on the floor. Hang your clothes instead of putting them in drawers, and store dirty clothes in a plastic bag you bring from home. Above all, alert the hotel if you see signs.
Of course, another great way to protect yourself is to use the Travel Bed Bug Band. Check out how this product can keep you protected while you’re on the go, and take that extra step of security. Get in touch with us for more information or to place an order today!