Most of us could use a little break from the walls that we’ve stared at for months. So we’ve gathered information from both the travel world and our nation’s top infectious disease experts to give you solid advice on how to travel safely and plan a romantic getaway to help you recharge and renew.
Rules of travel safety you should always remember
First of all, although the focus of anyone considering travel right now is staying healthy, it’s important to remember all the basics of travel safety. If you’re carrying a passport, make sure it’s in an RFID travel cover. You may also want to consider investing in an anti-theft messenger bag. Because even though you’re social distancing, thieves are still looking for easy targets.
And if you’re planning to document your trip on social media, don’t forget that each instagrammable image you post is an announcement to the world that you aren’t at home. So make sure to set up some sort of housesitting/alarm/security system to keep your life safe while you’re giving yourself a break from your day to day world.
The best ways to travel safely right now
Right now you really only have two solid choices for mode of transportation: car/RV or airplane. (According to the Mayo Clinic, train and bus travel are options you’ll want to avoid if possible right now.)
Most experts are recommending cars over planes because in a car you can better control your environment. However don’t forget that at every stop along the way, you’re exposing yourself to the possibility of picking up someone else’s germs.
Although Dr. Anthony Fauci says that, as an individual in a high risk group, he would not travel by plane right now, my family physician says that for healthy individuals, the risk on the plane is quite low. That is, assuming that the airline is keeping middle seats open and practicing onboard masking and social distancing boarding procedures. Be sure to check with your airline of choice before booking, as these policies are rapidly changing.
The majority of planes flying in the United States right now are equipped with HEPA filtration–this means the air on the plane is better than that of most office buildings. This helps ensure that you can travel safely (relatively) on a plane. Some older and smaller planes are not equipped with HEPA filters. But you can verify this with your airline before you fly.
However rather than flying, you might want to consider finding a quickie, romantic escape close to home. Infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner recommended to CNN that a short car trip is the way to travel safely right now.
Which is safer, a hotel or home rental?
But is it better to book the romance package at a nearby hotel or find a secluded VRBO rental right now?
There is no simple answer. Both have pros and cons. The best thing you can do is find out more about the owner’s policies and book a stay that aligns with the safety measures medical professionals recommend.
Questions to ask to help you travel safely:
- Is contactless checking possible?
- What are the policies on masks for staff and guests?
- Can windows be opened for better ventilation?
- (For hotels), what kind of air filtration is used in indoor common areas?
- Will you need to take an elevator to your room?
- How much time is the space you’re renting empty before you check in? (Many properties are keeping spaces empty for 48 hours between guests–a recommended time period for allowing the virus to die out on surfaces.)
In addition, according to Forbes, you should bring your own pillowcase. (I’ve heard some infectious disease experts suggest you bring your own pillow.) Also, as a best practice to travel safely, don’t forget to plan in advance what you will do and where you will eat. One advantage to a rental house is that you will have your own kitchen. However, a luxury hotel with room service is another great option, since takeout is deemed relatively low risk.
And, of course, don’t hesitate to wash your hands any time you can after accepting an item from a stranger, touching a public door handle, etc. Here’s the best way to wash to ensure you’re doing a thorough job.
What to pack
Lastly, be sure to take everything you’ll need with you in order to keep yourself as safe as possible. If you’re traveling by car, it’s a good idea to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer and some spare masks in your vehicle. You will want a mini bottle of sanitizer for your purse or pocket. If you can find them, individually packaged Purell wipes are a great choice for wiping down high-touch surfaces like arm rests, television remotes and door handles.
If possible, to help travel safely, bring your own bottle, or bottles, of water. On a recent flight, we brought our own reusable water bottles in our bag, bought a large bottle of water before boarding our flight, then poured it into our bottles to avoid putting the purchased bottle to our mouths as well as reducing our need for interaction with a flight attendant.
I can’t recommend highly enough keeping a two or three layer cloth mask or three layer disposable mask on your person at all times, since you never know when you will find yourself in a situation where distancing isn’t possible. And although a getaway together could be just what your relationship needs right now, never forget that germs don’t take a vacation, even though you need one! Travel safely and enjoy a much deserved break.
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