Preparing for travel and traveling safely again – 14 top tips
With air travel slowly returning, preparing for, getting to the airport, and then flying safely again is a concern for many, even savvy travelers. Here are some tips on how to travel safely again and reminders on preparing for travel basics.
Traveling is something many of us love, be it to visit relatives and friends or to see new places. Now that air travel is beginning to return, the question many have is how to prepare for and fly safely in the broader picture of traveling safely again. Perhaps it’s also been a long time since you’ve prepared for a flight and you want a reminder of the basics.
Take a look at our preparing for travel tips, below, from booking your travel, to sitting in your plane seat ready and thrilled to be traveling safely again.
1) Before booking: It helps to have a checklist! Research your destination to decide what is open or not, what safety protocols are required, what vaccinations may be needed, and what kind of test or health certificate you may need for arrival, as well as for your return to your home. This is especially vital if the trip is to an international destination. Check current domestic health and safety levels set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the U.S. Department of State. Prior to April 2021, the risk level described by the CDC and the State Department was often different because one looked more closely at health risks while the other emphasized risks related to terrorism and other dangers. Those have since been merged for less confusion.
2) Booking flights: Verify cancelation and refund information from your airline or tour operator, as well as with any rental cars or lodgings. Consider only booking direct and not through third-party suppliers since you will then have best access to immediate customer service and the operator’s own policies regarding cancelations or refunds. Verify the customer satisfaction record and safety standards of your providers before choosing. And consider your priorities – cost, convenience or comfort – when it comes to flights.
3) Booking lodgings: Consider location and access from lodgings to travel safely again. These days, with some amenities not available (breakfasts) or closed (restaurants), another option is to book a hotel with at least a refrigerator and coffee machine and perhaps a microwave, or a suite-like hotel that has kitchenettes. That allows for what I have called “hotel camping” where you can do a lot of your own minor meals in a room. Works great and avoids excess contact points. Most hotels seem to be doing their best to keep travelers safe since their livelihood depends on it.
4) Selecting airplane seats and rooms: Especially in these days of wanting to travel but seeking to fly safely again, choose airplane seats and hotel rooms carefully. For rooms, consider a higher floor, away from the elevator for fewer passers-by.
5) Consider travel insurance strongly and collecting documentation: Especially as rules, regulations and health risks fluctuate. Ensure you have all the health documentation you may need, from general immunizations to a COVID-19 vaccination or results of a coronavirus test, and have taken non-COVID safety measures.
6) Pre-departure hotel and flight preparation: Download any apps from hotel, airlines, or other providers. Use contactless check-in from home and download the appropriate paperwork to avoid unnecessary extra contact points. Join affinity programs at no cost for a few extra benefits and tap into hotel apps that allow you to actually choose a room once you check in!
7) Setting your departure schedule: With increased security and safety, leave plenty of time for additional COVID-19-related checks at check-in or security: two hours for domestic and three hours for international. Consider joining a lounge or buying a day pass for a more comfortable wait. Download electronic books, magazines, and newspapers.
8) Getting to the airport: If possible, take a taxi, ride share, or have a family member or friend take you – again, to avoid excess contact points and crowds.
9) Packing along health essentials: To ensure you are traveling safely again, what you pack along will go beyond underwear and smartphones. Look to an array of health and safety essentials, such as mini-hand sanitizers and extra masks. When I was forced to fly cross-country in July 2020 – when even less was known about coronavirus transmission – I packed along a long list of health and safety items and was glad I did.
10) Entering the airline terminal: In these days of flying safely again, rules have changed – and penalties for flouting them are stricter. Have your mask handy and pull it on, wearing it correctly over mouth and nose.
11) Standing in line to check-in or for security: Check your habit of sidling in behind somebody and instead leave some distance as required for traveling safely. Have your documents handy. A small zipper plastic bag is very practical these days to hold paperwork or identification, especially after somebody else has handled it. Holding just the minimum, these bags can then fit close to your body within easy reach.
12) Making it through security: Been a long time since you traveled? Don’t forget the essentials of your 3-1-1 liquids bag when moving through security. Know that the quantity of hand sanitizer you can bring is now an exception to the liquids rule, allowing for up to 12 ounces. At security, remove food from your carry-on bag, also. And don’t forget to remove all of your electronics, including computers and tablets, and empty your pockets to avoid hearing that security buzzer go off and doing it all over again.
13) Boarding the plane: Have your mask on correctly, keep any testing documentation handy that is required by your airline, and keep that distance between you and your fellow travelers. Avoid that mindless habit of stepping in next to somebody else to avoid what I call the “distancing dance” in airports. Find your seat, and then start the cleaning routine. Although airlines have upped their cleaning routines for flying safely, better safe than sorry. Wipe down the tray, armrests, seatbelts, and anything else you might touch.
14) Snacking and sipping on the plane: If mask wearing is still required – and it will be for a while – consider packing along some of your own snacks that can be nibbled quickly like nuts or dried fruit, i.e. small items that do not require you to pull down your mask and leave it off (for your and others’ safety) or can be nibbled easily even while keeping the mask on. Also consider bringing a straw so you can take sips of a beverage while leaving your mask in place.
Ready to fly safely and travel safely again! And definitely get ready to have fun again.
Our Most Recent Travel Stories
Riding historic train tracks on a railbiking adventure with River Fox Railbikes near Sacramento, California. Pairs of riders pedal two-seat, motor-assisted railbikes along relatively flat railroad tracks.
Biting insects all over the world are searching for their next blood meal. You need to know what the best insect repellent is for travel to help prevent a mosquito or tick bite that could carry a nasty disease.
POPOS may sound like a funny name for something you’d munch on during happy hour, but that is so wrong. POPOS stands for “Privately Owned Public Open Spaces,” a.k.a. San Francisco secret gardens, urban parks, and city open spaces. Whether you as a traveler call them POPOS, secret gardens, or rooftop parks, they are ideal respites and secluded open spaces when wandering and touring cities for anyone who just needs to rest weary feet or simply take in the surroundings or do a little people-watching – for free, and often in a really pleasant venue.
Don't Get Left Behind!
Enjoy more of our stories and photos by joining our Subscriber Club. It's FREE and by subscribing to our monthly newsletter you'll also get access to free downloads of e-books, recipes and more - no spam, ever, promise.