Getting on a plane? 5 travel tips during Covid-19 — and the safest place to sit
"We cannot shut down the world."
As I hopped on and off planes all over Europe and the Caucasus, I couldn't agree more with this statement by the World Health Organization (WHO). Borders are closing, but the spread of the novel coronavirus between countries is rapid and increasingly unpredictable. So — what to do when, like me, you're currently far from home and in the middle of your trip? How to deal when passing through crowded airports or strapped to your airplane seat with a hundred other travelers? Here, some tips to cope.
1. Choose a window seat.
“Passengers in window seats have the lowest likelihood of coming in contact with an infected person,” writes Amy McKeever in her article for National Geographic. “But illnesses are most likely to be transmitted only to passengers within one row of the infected person.” Those seated by the windows were also less likely to get up as compared to passengers seated on the aisle. So if you've always been an aisle person like me, it's time to be flexible: sit by the window and gaze at the clouds.
2. Skip the luggage cart.
Just like grocery carts and baskets, luggage trolleys are touched by thousands of people — all proven to be breeding grounds for bacteria. Some airports even have light trolleys for your hand luggage. Avoid at all costs. Think of this as an extra workout and get ready to roll your own suitcases. Got a heavy carry-on? Strap it on top of your suitcase. If you have heavy bags and must use the luggage cart, thoroughly wipe down the handles and wash your hands immediately after using.
3. Wipe everything down.
Use anti-bacterial wipes to clean your armrests, seatbelt, and tray table. Throw them out and get a fresh wipe for your hands, or better yet, wash your hands. I can't stress this enough. Also: flying or not, avoid touching your face. Most times, we’re not even aware we’re doing this! But bacteria and viruses enter our body through the mucous membranes of our mouth, nose, and eyes. Use fresh tissues when coughing or sneezing.
4 Don’t pet that cute dog or cat.
As an animal lover, this makes me sad. But it's a sensible precaution during these times, as these lovely animals can still carry bugs that your body isn’t used to. Tempting as it seems, refrain from petting these friendly creatures especially while traveling — no matter how adorable.
5. Wash your hands frequently — and properly.
This is the time to do it right. Scrub for at least 20 seconds and don't neglect areas in between the fingers, the back of the hand, and your thumbs. Make sure you dry your hands thoroughly. If you’re reluctant to use the plane’s toilet, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
Remember, we can still travel. We just need to do so responsibly — with care, consideration, and utmost vigilance.
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