How to Travel Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic
If you are wondering if you can travel this summer, the answer is yes. Some countries are reopening their borders to international travel and even theme parks, like Walt Disney World in Florida, are opening their gates once again. Still, you’ll want to keep safety in mind, whether you’re up in the sky, on a road trip, or even at a beachside cottage or national park.
In the time of COVID-19, the keys are staying away from others whenever possible, practicing good hygiene, and wearing a mask.
Can I Go to the Beach?
Definitely. According to doctors and infectious disease experts, going to the beach is one of the safest activities you can do this summer, assuming you stay 6 feet away from people outside of your household. COVID-19 does not like sunlight, and there is no evidence the disease can spread in the water, so swim, sun, and splash away! (Just don’t forget water and sunscreen).
Can I Get on a Plane?
Yes, but do so cautiously. If everyone follows guidelines, being on a plane should be relatively safe. Health professionals from Harvard told National Geographic:
“Many people think they get sick on an airplane, but the reality is that the air quality on an airplane is actually really good—high amounts of clean outdoor air and all recirculated air passes through a HEPA filter.”
Nevertheless, experts say the risk of contracting COVID-19 is higher in the airport, where people are standing closely in lines and high traffic areas. If you’re sitting on a crowded plane, it may also be impossible to keep physical distance, so you’ll need to wear a mask or cloth face covering the whole time.
Is a Road Trip Better?
Yes and no. If you and your family are traveling in a car, it may be easier to stay away from others, but you will still have to stop for food and bathroom breaks. Public bathrooms, especially those that are crowded or have multiple stalls can be risky. Still, wearing a mask and washing your hands are your best weapons against the virus.
“Assume public restrooms ‘are not properly disinfected and treat surfaces as if they have live virus on them.’”
Additionally, as personal injury attorneys, we cannot talk about car accidents without making the following caveat:
When you travel by car, you also have to keep in mind the risk of car accidents. Get plenty of sleep before driving, avoid distractions, and plan your route in advance to minimize your chances of crashing. Also, be wary of other drivers. Some trucking regulations have been suspended in response to the COVID-19 crisis and speeding and illegal drag racing are on the rise.
What About Camping and Hotels?
Camping is great because it is easier to maintain distance, but it is not so great if you have to share services like restrooms, picnic tables, and the like. You also have less access to sanitation – and medical care if you have a health emergency.
For hotels (and vacation rentals), your level of safety will ultimately depend on the precautions the hotel and the staff are taking. Hotels that take better care of their employees are more likely to be safe because staff have personal protective equipment (PPE) and paid sick leave. You should be able to find out more about a business or homeowner’s COVID-19 response by calling and asking or visiting their website. Look for plexiglass at reception, staff wearing masks, and contactless check-in (online or by phone).
Once again, the biggest concern is other people. Try to take the stairs instead of the elevator, wash your hands often, and maybe order room service instead of going to the restaurant or hotel bar.
Remember: Follow Protocol and Make Your Own Risk Assessment
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick.”
If you’re anxious about traveling, you may want to plan your trip for another time.
The managing director of the Tourism Crisis Management Initiative advised PBS:
“Beyond taking all the necessary precautions, you have to rely on your instincts: ‘At the end of the day, what do you feel comfortable doing?’”
If you do want to travel, make sure to do your research and prepare ways to mitigate your risks. Remember that some cities, counties, states, and countries are still closed to recreational and/or have strict guidelines in place.
Speaking of guidelines, you should follow them whenever possible. This means staying away from people who live outside of your household, washing your hands and using hand sanitizer frequently, and wearing a mask whenever you are around other people.
If this all seems overwhelming to you, consider a staycation instead. There may be places in your town that you have always wanted to visit, and you can always pack a picnic for the park or pitch a tent in your backyard.
At Anderson Traylor Edwards, we always want you to stay safe. This is a difficult and unprecedented time for everyone, but we are still here for you for all of your legal needs.
If you are traveling this summer, be smart about it. If you are harmed by someone else’s negligence, you can always (24/7) call us at 985-244-3070 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation.
We wish you a safe, healthy, and happy summer!