IT SEEMS LIKE recommendations to travel or not travel right now are changing by the minute. In the era of COVID-19, knowing ways to stay healthy when traveling and protect yourself are paramount. There are tips you can follow to keep yourself healthy when traveling. In fact, these suggestions can apply anytime, says Bernadette Boden-Albala, director and founding dean of the program in public health at UC Irvine in Irvine, California. A frequent traveler, Boden-Albala says she follows common-sense precautions year-round to stay healthy while traveling.
This article is based on reporting that features expert sources.
Tips to keep Yourself Healthy when Traveling
1. Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for the latest travel advisories – including COVID-19 travel advisories.
The CDC also advises delaying all cruise ship travel.
Although the CDC does not generally advise on U.S. travel, its website does have a few considerations before domestic travel:
- Find out what the COVID-19 outbreak is like where you are going.
- Consider if you would potentially be in large gatherings that would put you or your travel companions at greater risk.
- Think about the health of those with whom you are traveling. Older people or those with chronic medical conditions would be at a higher risk for COVID-19.
- Know whether you could stay at home for 14 days upon your return if needed. You may have to do this to monitor your symptoms if you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
2. Keep the immune system strong even before you travel. Adequate sleep, healthy eating, regular exercise and stress management all can go a long way in keeping your immune system strong even before you start your journey. As you plan the trip itself, do your best to pick flight times that still give you enough time to catch shuteye.
3. Do some research in advance about the medical services in the county where you are traveling. Consider what would happen if you got sick and had to see a doctor or go to a hospital, Boden-Albala cautions.
4. Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. You have heard it over and over because this is one of the top ways to prevent the spread of illness. Wash your hands frequently, including after touching surfaces. Use soap and water for 20 seconds. If that is not available, then use hand sanitizer. Other items you can pack: sanitizing wipes and disposable gloves.
5. Don’t touch your face. Again, it is been said repeatedly these past few weeks, but that is because it is good advice. It is because you may touch something, such as a surface that has the virus, and then you might touch your face. The mucous membranes around your mouth, nose and eyes are more likely to pick up the virus, says Dr. Gregory Schrank, an infectious disease physician and associate hospital epidemiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center and assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. “Not touching your face is the best action you can take to reduce the risk,” Schrank says. Boden-Albala wears sunglasses when she travels to help remind herself not to touch her face.
6. Don’t use a face mask unless you are sick. Using masks is not helpful and could even cause harm as you may want to touch your face more often when you wear one, says Dr. Prashant Malhotra, an infectious disease specialist and an associate professor with the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in Manhasset, New York.
7. Take a few extra moves to protect yourself on an airplane. Modern airplanes have HEPA filters that change the cabin air every two to three minutes, Malhotra says. HEPA filters in the aircraft can filter out most viruses and bacteria to prevent the spread of disease.
Additionally, airlines are currently using hospital-level disinfectants on surfaces, he adds. However, there are still some important steps you can take to lower your risk of getting sick during air travel. This includes:
- Using alcohol-based cleaning wipes on high-touch surfaces, such as trays and armrests, Schrank recommends. Clean those surfaces before you use them.
- Keep up your hand washing and hand sanitizer use.
- It is not always possible on a plane but keep some more space between you and the passengers sitting near you to maintain social distance.
- If possible, choose a window seat. There is some evidence that those seating areas are associated with less virus transmission, Boden-Albaba says. That is because people sitting by the window usually have the least amount of contact with other passengers.
- Do not travel if you are sick. This does not apply only to suspected COVID-19 but any type of illness. If you are sick when you travel – be it a cold, stomach bug or other cause – the trip will be miserable for you and those around you. Plus, you risk getting others sick.
8. Watch what you eat and drink. “Staying well hydrated helps the body in fighting infections, so drink plenty of water,” Malhotra recommends.
Hydration also is important if you are already sick, as our bodies can lose a lot of water when feverish or from coughing, Schrank adds.
When on the plane, stick with healthy foods that you like and are easily digestible, such as cheese or nuts, Bolden-Albala says. She always brings food with her on the plane. One healthy item that she finds at most airports is hummus and crackers or pretzels.
After you eat, wipe down common areas like seat tables to prevent spreading germs and wash your hands.
9. Take a deep breath. Consider steps to reduce coronavirus-related anxiety and relax. “We have lived through many outbreaks, including SARS and Ebola in the past,” Malhotra says. “If we continue to adhere to simple techniques that have a scientific basis, we will be able to make it through this one as well.”
In addition to these tips for staying healthy when traveling, we have adopted new cleaning procedures and guidelines for all of our condos, of which are meant to keep you safe and to put you at ease. We know that stay at home orders have been tough on everyone and thus, you deserve to get out of your house and come to the beach. It is our job to help keep you safe during your stay!