Travel after the COVID-19 pandemic: 5 things to pack to travel safely
After the COVID-19 pandemic, knowing how to travel safely is more important than ever. There are 5 essential things to pack to travel safely so you can protect yourself from getting sick during flights, hotels and visits to tourist sights.
If you think the process of getting somewhere on a plane wasn’t fun before, just wait until the world begins to reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel won’t become any easier with the increased worry about germs everywhere, and all the extra gear you will need to carry to travel safely – or as safely as possible.
Whether or not you are itching to travel again (as we are) or will prefer to wait it out a bit longer before you hop onto a plane, when you do travel, you will need to understand the risks and know what to pack along with you to ensure your travel safety.
Undoubtedly, things will change once there is a widely available vaccine for COVID-19, but this pandemic we hope has also been a wakeup call for every traveler and global citizen. Traveling safely in a post-pandemic world means being prepared with a travel kit that can protect you against all sorts of germs and bacteria, using them correctly, and being aware of a few travel safety tips.
A checklist for 5 things to pack to travel safely
Yes, these days a face mask will be required in many places, from airports, to restaurant common areas, to hotel lobbies or museums. Collect a couple now so you are prepared since not every airport will be like Las Vegas with vending machines stocked with personal protective equipment. Since there are a lot of styles, the time is now to try out a couple to determine what works best for you and be sure to wear it and use your face mask correctly. If you need some help in making your own prior to travel, take a look at these patterns and types from Joann Fabrics. A snug circular neck or head scarf can also serve as a nose and mouth covering in a pinch. (P.S. Our super sassy masks in the cover photo were made by Weeping Willow Stitchery. You can order from her, too, choosing your own style and fabric.)
Used to be I felt like a paranoid fool when I whipped out my sanitizing hand gel. These days, it’s considered a must and nobody blinks. Be sure to choose the right kind and use it correctly. Or make your own hand gel. But remember that a good handwashing is always better than hand sanitizer, especially if you are traveling, but that’s not always possible.
Of course, I used to think my mother, a former nurse, was nuts when she’d wipe down everything she came in contact with. That’s now become acceptable, too. You can of course make your own wipes if travel packs are not available. Be conscious, however, that ones using bleach can be very harsh and can damage fabrics or other surfaces and should not be used on food items.
No more sneezing or coughing in your hand. Having a tissue to catch any germs at times you aren’t wearing a mask is a must if you don’t want the world to glare at you. Tissues though will serve a variety of purposes while traveling in today’s post-COVID-19 germophobe world. For example, you could use one on your finger to touch the keypad on a credit card machine in a store, put one between your hand and a rail on a bus or underground, or pick up items in stores to read a label. Then, of course, toss it out.
For years, I have carried my own pen to sign receipts and paperwork in stores or businesses. I always felt a tad weird, but these days nobody will blink if you whip out your own. This is a must-have for traveling safely — or anytime.
Be prepared for the next travel emergency or warning from the State Department and know what it means by reading Travel safety – Understanding State Department travel advisories.
3 more things to consider packing for travel safety
We packed a small bottle of disinfecting spray every time we traveled before and will double down on that when traveling after the COVID-19 pandemic eases. A spray bottle will allow you to better wet a surface, such as an airplane tray table. Remember to read the instructions to know how long it should remain on the surface until you wipe off the dampness for best disinfecting.
You can’t always count on hand soap so packing along some travel-friendly dry soap could be worth considering. The beauty of dry soap, such as papery leaves, is that it will be much lighter and will not be required to go into liquids bags at airports.
Be sure to read How to travel in a post-pandemic world – respect, safety, patience.
Sounds odd perhaps but go with me: There are times you need to touch a keypad, such as at a bank ATM or in a store, but who wants to do that? Instead, use the end of a cotton swab, then toss it. You can also break a swab in half to get two uses out of one.
Small zipper resealable plastic bags
Practical for taking just one or two disinfecting wipes into a store. And if somebody else needs to handle an ID or credit card – such as in a store, restaurant, or airport – just open it up and tell them to toss it in. Then you don’t have to touch it until you have a wipe handy or the item can be placed “in quarantine” for a day or two. In a dire circumstance, you could even use a zipper bag for a glove.
What not to pack for travel: protective gloves
Wait, what? Putting on gloves and then just leaving them on as you go from store to store, or car to restaurant to hotel, or bus to café, won’t do a thing for you. That’s because you will simply be touching everything, potentially picking up germs, then transferring it to the next thing you touch, be that your phone, purse, steering wheel, or doorknob. Unless you are going to change gloves all the time, like healthcare workers do, you should just rely on frequent and thorough handwashing when you are traveling, with that splash of hand sanitizing gel.
Safely stay in hotels after the COVID-19 pandemic
Staying in hotels is where your must-have gear will come in handy. Most certainly a face mask will be required in common areas. Hotels are implementing all kinds of new safety and cleanliness standards and protocols to help reassure potential guests it’s OK to travel again. Be sure to read our story Is it safe to stay in a hotel? What you need to know to stay healthy.
You may also want to read Top hotel safety tips: Your hotel room safety is important.
Get ready for:
- Hand sanitizer stations at the door
- Automatically opening doors to eliminate touch
- Barriers between you and employees
- Contactless arrival and departure
- No more breakfast buffets
- No more or limited in-room mini-bars
- Limiting decorative bedding
- Reducing reading materials or in-room printed information
Despite promises of extra cleaning for rooms, you will want to deploy your own wipes and spray upon arrival. Be sure to wipe down high-touch areas such as:
- Cabinet handles
- Telephone and keypads
- Coffee machines — if they exist!
What about in-room toiletries?
Hotel room amenities such as shampoos and lotions could either go away completely or you will see a return to single-use items. Thus, if you have relied on these in the past, you may want to consider bringing your own shampoo, conditioner, lotion, bath salts, or anything else you feel is essential for safety, comfort and enjoyment.
In the end, distancing is always the safest – and may be required at lodgings and of course restaurants (see below) In addition, indoor spaces are where germs will remain on surfaces or in the air for longer. You should consider refraining from just hanging out in hotel lobbies and common areas.
You may also want to read Staying healthy after air travel – 12 travel tips for avoiding germs.
Travel safely when you are dining in restaurants
You will have to decide what your level of comfort is whether you dine inside, take a seat outside, or resort to take-out when you are traveling. Since COVID-19 droplets in the air don’t chase you around or swarm like gnats, the longer you are in a space, the more you may be at risk. Many restaurants are looking at expanding outdoor seating, with some cities closing streets or parking area to create larger, more distanced seating, or are allowing seating on sidewalks.
We will be traveling as soon as it is allowed — and look forward to it greatly. But we will have our own travel safety kits packed and ready to go, waiting to head out the door to the airport or on a road trip. Like a girl or boy scout says, be prepared, and pack your travel safety kit now for post-Covid-19 pandemic adventures.