So the world is facing an epidemic (or is it a pandemic?) and you still want to travel. Good for you. But what to do? How do you reduce your risk of infection without arriving at the airport in a hazmat suit? Here are Healthy Living + Travel’s suggestions for enjoying the benefits of travel without getting sick.
1.Wash your hands. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you follow these five steps every time.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Sing “500 Miles” by The Proclaimers:
“But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door.”
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. Avoid hot air dryers. According to The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper, “Hot air blowers are incubators and spewers of bacteria and pestilence.”
2. Use hand sanitizer. Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
3. During the crisis, forgo hand-shaking, high-fiving, low-fiving, fist-pumping and kissing people, unless you’ve met in quarantine.
4. Wash your hands, and don’t touch things. When you finish cleaning your hands, don’t make the mistake of touching the faucet, sink, towel dispenser or door handle with your bare hands on the way out. If so, go back to #1 and repeat the process.
5. Avoid high-traffic areas for people: conferences, trade shows, sporting events, etc.
6. Be prepared. Avoid having to buy anything at the airport. Bring an empty water bottle and refill it once through TSA screening. Bring your own snacks and reading materials. Buying a beer, glass of wine or coffee at the airport? Wipe down your glass or cup with a disinfectant wipe. The less interactions you have with germs, the safer you will be.
7. Wash your hands, and don’t touch your face. See #1 and #4.
8. Keep in mind that almost everything you touch when you travel has been touched by someone else, from the door handle on your taxi or ride-share to the check-in kiosk, TSA plastic bucket and seatbelt. Wipe down your seating area: arm rests, seatbelt, window ledge, tray table, fresh-air nozzle, etc. Buying something? Tap your credit card when possible at point-of-purchase cashiers.
9. Wear socks at the airport. If you’re lucky enough to travel through a US border crossing you will be asked to remove your footwear at TSA screening. Be prepared and have something to cover your feet. The last thing you want is to be walking barefoot in the footsteps of thousands of other passengers.
10. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. Now all you have to do is wait for your flight. Find a place to sit and relax, preferably away from the crowds.
Travel is one of the best experiences in the world. Being prepared, staying positive and keeping a sense of humor will make the trip that much more enjoyable. If all else fails, vodka is an antiseptic and a disinfectant, holds excellent medicinal qualities and can be usually found close by. Have a safe flight.