By Danaé Reid
With the number of U.S citizens getting vaccinated on the rise, the amount of travel — both domestic and international — has spiked to record levels as well. And although a lot of mainstream media coverage could lead you to think that the threat of COVID is almost immaterial, there are still many things to be cognizant of while you’re traveling to other places and subjecting yourself to big groups of friends and strangers.
In March of this year, I went to Puerto Rico, and in the next few weeks, I’ll be embarking on a trip to Mexico, so I wanted to share some tips that I picked up while traveling/planning travel during a pandemic that is very much still alive.
1. If you can afford to buy a second ticket and don’t feel comfortable sitting next to other people, do it! Airlines were making it a point to space out passengers in the beginning of the pandemic with most practicing social distancing, but they are no longer doing that. There is no guarantee that you’ll be sitting by yourself or just with your family in your row. So if you feel uncomfortable or anxious about the possibility of sitting in close corridors with strangers, do yourself the favor of buying 2 to 3 seats in the row.
2. Your gloves become dirty as soon as you touch something with them, so either bring MANY changes of gloves or double up on hand sanitizer. This is true for planes, but also for everyday life as well. Your gloves only protect your hands from direct contact with potentially contaminated surfaces, but if you’re still using those same gloves to touch all of your belongings — and worse, your phone — the gloves become pointless. I personally ditch the gloves myself for this reason and just do my best not to touch anything. I’ve also found that using my sleeve is a great alternative.
3. Read, read and re-read the COVID guidelines for both your area and the area you’re traveling to. International travel is tricky during these times, because a lot of places don’t have the exact same set of rules that we do here in America. For example, some places are requiring the PCR test, some are requiring you to simply fill out a form, and others are only accepting folks that have been fully vaccinated, and some aren’t accepting travelers at all. Make sure you’re checking out the place you’re traveling to, so that you don’t run into any issues while traveling.
4. Enjoy yourself! Whether you decide that you’re ready to travel or not is totally up to you, but if you do make that decision to crusade, have fun! Our reality has been insane and tragic over the past year, so it’s important that you understand that you deserve to get away and treat yourself. It may take a while to fully relax and be comfortable knowing the risk associated, but if you’ve made the decision to travel, at least do your best to safely enjoy the time you have away and make the best of it without being frantic over what could happen!
5. Wear your mask!! Again, a lot of the places that are extremely popular right now are islands that are a bit more susceptible to an outbreak that could be detrimental and nearly impossible to contain. Even if you see local residents who are not wearing masks, do your part in keeping them and yourself safe by still wearing a mask and maintaining distance when possible.
6. Last but not least, support local businesses in the areas you’re traveling to! Smaller countries and islands have had an extremely tough year being that tourism contributes to a huge portion of the economy. A lot of small businesses have struggled in the past year and could really benefit from your business. Try stopping by a small coffee shop, boutique, etc. while you’re away. Not only will supporting local businesses and eateries lend itself to a more authentic trip and experience, it also helps the local residents who may have been struggling over the past year.
This past year has taught us all so much about the importance of adopting new sanitary habits and practices , of community, of staying safe, and more. It is my hope that the adaptations we’ve made in general, but regarding travel as well, are evergreen and that we continue to do better by ourselves, by our family and friends, and by the local residents of the places we love to travel to.
Be safe this summer and remember — have fun, but stay masked up!
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, The Philadelphia Sunday SUN, the author’s organization, committee or other group or individual.