It’s a scary time to travel. Despite getting less media attention with each passing day, the pandemic still affects your health while on the road. Now, increased international tensions and conflict make leaving your comfort zone even more problematic. What happens if you get stranded abroad?
While you can’t avoid every snafu, there’s plenty that you can proactively do to safeguard your health and mental well-being on the road. Thinking ahead can make all the difference! Here are eight tips for safe travel as the world opens back up.
1. Have a Contingency Plan
If you’re planning to leave the country, appoint a check-in person stateside whom you touch base with at scheduled intervals. If something should happen, they’ll know to contact the correct authorities and set things in motion to find you and return you to safety.
Given the current state of the pandemic, you might have valid fears about what could happen if you got sick while overseas. Before you depart, make plans for medical repatriation if you don’t want to be treated in a hospital abroad. Such services arrange first-class travel back to your home country, ensuring your comfort and putting your mind at ease.
2. Mask Up
The Travel Security Administration (TSA) extended mask rules to March 18, 2022, but it’s impossible to say what rules will stay and go once that deadline passes. However, even if officials repeal the mandate requiring you to mask up on public transportation like planes and buses, you can still cover your nose and mouth.
Doing so offers some protection even if others decline. Anything that offers a buffer between you and respiratory droplets reduces your risk of infection. However, you should opt for a stronger KN95 or N95 facial covering if you have health conditions that elevate your risks from severe infection.
3. Maintain Good Hygiene
Cases of the flu all but disappeared during the pandemic’s early days. While multiple factors play a part, such as less frequent contact with crowds, improved hygiene measures also contributed to the decline.
Please remember that COVID-19 isn’t the only nasty bug out there, especially when you travel. Take the proper measures to maintain hygiene while eating and drinking, too. Wash your hands before preparing food or eating.
Some countries have cleaner water supplies than others. When ordering beverages in countries where you don’t trust the water supply, request that your server hold the ice cubes. Exercise caution with raw foods – fresh fruits and veggies are fine if you wash them first, but hesitate around shared trays at buffets.
4. Wear Your Glasses
Although it’s unlikely, authorities have reported cases of people contracting COVID-19 through their eyes. Your risks of infection increase if you wear contacts that cause dryness and irritation.
However, donning your specs keeps you more comfortable, especially in dry airline conditions. It also creates a barrier between your cornea and respiratory droplets, further slashing your infection risk. With summer on the way, those with 20/20 vision can reap the same benefits by treating themselves to a new pair of stylish sunglasses for the season.
5. Stick With Handshake Alternatives
During the pandemic’s early days, elbow and fist bumps replaced handshakes. It’s still wise to avoid this common courtesy and stick to an alternative whenever possible.
Some countries consider the practice rude, so you might be in luck if you’re traveling to some Asian countries. It might be more common to greet the other party with a slight bow in these locations, helping you maintain social distance.
Of course, if you have a big job interview overseas and the interviewer offers to shake, you might feel uncomfortable declining. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with you and avoid touching your face until you can excuse yourself to go use your hand sanitizer or take a trip to the nearest restroom to wash your hands.
6. Monitor Your Symptoms
You still have a responsibility to your fellow human beings. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms or have a positive test, you should isolate yourself for five days and wear a mask until a negative COVID-19 test confirms it’s safe. This might mean delaying or canceling your travel plans. Different countries have various rules, and you will likely need to pass an entry test, anyway.
Even if you aren’t showing symptoms, testing positive always means that you should isolate yourself in order to protect others. COVID-19 symptoms can be mild for some, while for others they can be deadly.
7. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Your diet can go far in keeping you healthy. You generally want to look for healthy whole foods, not overly processed versions. Leafy greens, nuts and fruits are all excellent for your health, and can give you a good immune boost in many cases. However, you might want to up your vitamin intake if you’re traveling to a developing country where eating raw local produce is questionable.
For example, vitamin C and zinc can make your cold shorter and less miserable. However, you need both in your body when symptoms develop, or they won’t do much good. If you can’t stick to a healthy, whole foods diet while away, consider stashing a multivitamin and mineral supplement in your carry-on and start taking it a week or so before you depart.
8. Stay Fit on the Road
Fitness also decreases your chances of getting sick. Exercise raises your core temperature, killing germs, and your increased respiration rate can help clear them from your airways before they can even set up shop.
If your hotel doesn’t have a fitness center, why not stash some resistance bands in your suitcase for toning in your hotel room? Another option is to take advantage of today’s workout apps to get a guided workout wherever you go. You can also see if the area around you offers a park or some type of outdoor area where you can run and walk freely.