Summer Series: Preparing For Travel During These Times

The entire world is topsy turvy and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to right itself any time soon. When COVID-19 was at its peak, air travel decreased by 96%, causing some airports to shut down altogether and others to drastically reduce their flight offerings. Today, air traffic is slowly increasing.
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), there was a 400% increase in air travel between April 2020 and June 2020.
The large increase in a short span of time doesn’t mean all is well. A year-on-year comparison between June 2020 and June 2019 shows an 84% decrease in air travel. Certainly not cause to celebrate.
Most of the people traveling now aren’t doing so for pleasure. They are doing it out of need, for business, or for family, but the one thing they are all making sure of is to take the proper precautions. Just because the peak has passed doesn’t mean that another flare-up won’t occur.

3 Ways to Prepare For Travel During COVID-19

Travel is a risky business even when there isn’t a worldwide pandemic. Now that there is one, it’s more important than ever for travelers to be well prepared.

Remember Social Distancing Rules

Social distancing requires 6 feet (2 meters) of distance in between each person, which means no crowding in line to board the plane (not that there are many crowds these days) and no talking very closely with your friend or colleague. Airlines themselves will take care of seating to make sure that safety precautions are adhered to.

Practice Good Hygiene Habits

Proper hygiene has always been important, but since COVID-19 it’s become even more important, and when flying, it’s even more important than when on the ground! Since you will be spending a significant amount of time outside of your home, washing your hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds is crucial. Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you to use when you can’t get to a sink. And when possible, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Wearing a mask is also important. According to the CDC and WHO, wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of the virus. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and can get downright stuffy. But a mask is definitely more comfortable than a ventilator. When you think about it that way, it will be easier to wear it without complaint.

Check Local Restrictions

When traveling domestically or abroad, it’s a good idea to check the restrictions in your destination. While different states may have different policies regarding masks and travel limitations, foreign countries can have different rules altogether. For example, Israel requires that travelers who come from foreign countries be quarantined for 14 days. This is definitely something you want to be aware of before traveling.

The Good News

According to Joe Allen, an assistant professor and director of the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, airplanes are not known for their high rate of infections. “Many people think they get sick on an airplane, but the reality is that the air quality on an airplane is actually really good,” he said. “High amounts of clean outdoor air and all recirculated air passes through a HEPA filter.”

Dr. Lin H. Chen, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of Cambridge’s Travel Medicine Center at Mount Auburn, concurs. “Data to date suggest only rare possible occurrences of in-flight transmission,” she said and explained that if people follow WHO’s guidelines, the risk of transmission on the ground or in the air is reduced.
This data is good news for travelers. While it can be more complicated and certainly more nerve-wracking to travel during these times, it is possible. More importantly, it’s possible to do it safely.

Play It Safe

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