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Staying safe while sheltering in place may be dull. It is, however, safer than traveling. To have a better chance at arriving safely, staying healthy and getting home in good health, consider the tips listed below.

1) Mask

To travel, invest in disposable masks that you can easily loop around your ears. Pull your hair back to avoid having to fight your hair to get the mask in place. Breathe down over your chin to avoid fogging up your glasses. Loop the mask over your ears and leave it there. If you must remove it, handle it by the ear loops and stash it in a Ziploc bag for discarding. Put on a fresh one if you have to take it off.

2) Disinfect

Carry disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer in your carry-on. If you need to eat at a restaurant in the airport, wipe down the table. Don’t handle the menu. You can assume that the plates and glasses are clean because they were washed in warm water. Wipe down the handles of any carts you need to use and be sure to wipe down poles on transport trains within the airport.

3) Wash Up

Wash your hands thoroughly at every available opportunity. Try to get in the habit of stopping and washing your hands whenever you change environments. Sanitizer is useful, but washing will remove pathogens more completely.

The steps are simple:

  • Wet your hands.
  • Apply soap and lather. Focus on your nails, between your fingers and the back of your hands.
  • Wash vigorously for 20 seconds. You might say a prayer to yourself, or hum Twinkle, Twinkle once.
  • Rinse your hands.
  • Dry your hands with a paper towel from fingertip to wrist.
  • Use the wet paper towel to turn off the faucet if need be.

4) Don’t Touch Your Face

Many of us have been surprised by how often we touch our faces without thinking of it. To break the habit, try polishing your nails with a bright color to remind you to stop. Another option is to put on lotion that has a strong scent so you will have an easier time remembering to avoid putting your hands on your face. If you really can’t break the habit, put red ink dots on the pads of your fingers to catch your eye.

5) Gloves

It is excellent if you have access to gloves, but still try to remember not to touch your face when you have them on. Don’t imagine that once you have gloves on, you’re protected. Gloves can easily transport pathogens from every surface you touch. For those who feel safer in gloves, discard them after removal as you would your mask and replace with a new pair, particularly after using the bathroom.

To safely remove your gloves, remove them over the fingertips so they are basically turned inside out as you take them off. Then put them in the trash.

6) Be Self-Contained

Assume that nobody else washes their hands as often or as well as you do. Decline airplane snacks and beverages if you can. In fact, one of the best gifts for travelers is a reusable water bottle so flyers can avoid dehydration. Pack a granola bar and some fruit for the trip and skip the food kiosks.

Try your best to practice social distancing in the seating area on the plane. Toss your jacket in one chair and put your carry-on on the other side of you if there is ample room for everyone to have their own space. By putting your items on the seats closest to you, you can avoid sitting too close to anyone.

At the Hotel

Ask about the cleaning protocol in each room. If you’re not certain, use your disposable wipes to hit all the surfaces you’re going to need to touch. Be specific about disinfecting the television remote, door handles and the light switches. While housekeeping likely cleaned up desktops and the bathroom counters, shared touching spaces may have been missed.

When getting ready for bed, don’t flip or fluff the linens. If you’re going to fill the ice bucket, use the liner bag. Consider using your elbow to push the button on the ice dispenser.

Whether you’re traveling alone or with a loved one, you will need to be vigilant to protect your health. The last thing you need to face in a strange city is a health crisis. Be polite but firm with anyone who gets too close.

About the author

Samantha Higgins

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