How to plan your trip during the pandemic
The coronavirus outbreak has led the way in reevaluating what’s important over the past few months. Sure our lifestyles have changed and opportunities have been limited, but we adjusted. After the initial Lockdowns and other restrictions (which were necessary measures to save lives), we found that we are able to move outside our homes a bit. And wanderlust is alive and well. While many countries are experiencing a decline in COVID-19 cases, some areas are increasing. This forces many travelers to change their vacation destinations all around the globe, but is it really not safe to travel? And what can you do to avoid contamination? If you do wish to travel or if you have family obligations or work, here is everything you need to know before you depart.
Things to consider before you leave
First things first, you should ask yourself whether you are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or if you live with someone who might be. According to the research, about one quarter of the U.S. adult population is at high risk for severe virus infections. Until an effective vaccine is produced, tens of millions of Americans will be vulnerable to COVID-19. There are two groups of people who have a significantly higher chance to get severely ill. The first, is our elderly, mainly those over the age of 60 but the numbers show that the risk of severe complications slowly increases after the age of 40. The second group is those of us that already suffer from pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases or cancer.
Another thing you should check first is whether the number of COVID-19 cases are rising at your destination. If the number of people getting infected is rapidly rising, you should reconsider or change your travel plans. The more cases – the more likely you are to get contaminated and spread it to others when you return. There is also the risk of a country’s borders closing due to a high number of cases before your holiday ends, meaning that you might get stuck there for a bit or have to buy very expensive return tickets.
Check travel restrictions and requirements
Even though the border checks within the U.S. were lifted a few months ago allowing people to travel freely, it is necessary to check travel requirements at your destination while planning your journey. Increasing coronavirus cases pose a threat to public health and travel requirements are constantly changing. State, local and territorial governments may impose new restrictions, including quarantine orders and testing requirements upon arrival.
Chapman Freeborn has created interactive COVID-19 travel information maps, to make holiday or trip planning more efficient. Our Flight Support Team have partnered with local authorities and flight service stations all around the globe to provide real-time information on traveling restrictions all in one place. We source all the necessary up-to-date information about entry requirements, like mandatory testing and quarantine upon arrival for travelers worldwide.
While some may think that air travel is the most dangerous way to travel during a pandemic, the trip on the plane itself is not the issue. It’s evident that COVID-19 can be spread by tiny particles suspended in the air, but the way air circulates on planes is preventing viruses from spreading easily. According to Boeing, the air on board is clean and ‘virus free’ due to Hepa filters on all modern aircraft. It turns out that filtered air is just as clean as the air in a hospital operating room.
The biggest threat when travelling by air is spending time in long security lines and crowded airport terminals before the flight. Taking a commercial flight can bring you in close contact with other people and potentially contaminated surfaces. That’s why private flight charter companies have been experiencing increasing demand for bookings over the past few months. A study done by a European private jet charter operator, found that taking a commercial flight creates around 270 possible person-to-person interactions, compared to less than 20 while taking a private flight.
If you are planning a holiday or a trip not that far away from home, traveling by car might be a better option than traveling by air. It gives you more control over your environment while getting to the destination. You can make as many or few stops along the way as you want and pick the places yourself, it will just take some planning beforehand.
When traveling by car, it is recommended to try to avoid unnecessary stops as much as possible and always having a mask, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes at hand. It’s best to prepare snacks and drinks to take on the trip and when in need of gas, use a disinfectant wipe or gloves on gas pump handles and buttons before touching them.
Safety measures during your journey
Just because some travel restrictions have been lifted, that doesn‘t mean that everything is completely back to normal. There are certain safety measures and restrictions that you must follow when traveling to protect yourself and others from the virus. While it may not be mandatory to wear a mask in public in every country, airlines can require you to do so on board. Studies have already shown that wearing a face mask can help prevent the spread of the virus from one person to another, so most major airlines are not willing to take the risk on their aircraft.
Besides wearing a face mask, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US and other public health organizations internationally, recommend following the steps below for a safer journey:
- Try to maintain a 6 foot distance from others as much as possible
- Avoid touching your face and hair
- Limit contact with frequently touched surfaces
- Avoid contact with anyone who is ill
- Cover sneezes and coughs
- Clean your hands often (especially after using the bathroom, before eating and touching your face, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing) or use a hand sanitizer with at least 80% of alcohol
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
Should you stay in a hotel?
When choosing a hotel, make sure to check their official website first to see how they’re responding to COVID-19. Book properties that require their staff to wear masks, and have plexiglass at reception or if possible, where you can check-in online. Take into consideration, that an apartment might be a lower-risk choice because it means that there will be less direct interactions with other guests. The hotel and travel industry have experienced a major impact due to the virus and they should be concerned about their visitors’ and staff’s safety. Some best practices include:
- Social distancing in the lobby and the front desk
- Increased cleaning of public areas, guest rooms, elevators and restaurants
- Requiring their staff and guests to wear masks
- Contactless payment
- Extra employee training in hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment
- Protocol in the event if a guest becomes ill
You can always call the hotel for additional reassurance and ask to book in a room that has been vacant for at least 24 hours.
After the travel
Regardless of where you traveled and what you did on your vacation, you may have been exposed to COVID-19 on your trip and pose a risk to your family, friends and the community for up to 14 days after you come back. Although you may feel well, you could be contagious without having any symptoms, so take the following actions to protect everyone around you:
- Plan to stay home the entire time.
- Maintain a 6 foot distance from others
- Wear a mask if you have to venture out (which you shouldn’t do at all). Wash and sanitize your hands often
- Work from home for the following two weeks
- Monitor your health and contact a healthcare professional to get a COVID-19 test, if you develop any symptoms