As restrictions begin to lift, traveling during Covid is a personal choice based on what feels safest to you. Yes, you’ll need to be aware of specific requirements to safely navigate security and flights as well as understand requirements at the destination. Some locations might be closed to you.
Ultimately your decision will be based on “where with all”, instinct and community impact. Recently I traveled to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, CA and overall the experience felt safe. During my preparations I examined all aspects of the trip researching protocols, asking questions, anticipating bottlenecks and using a new app to navigate security at Denver International Airport (“Verifly” for Denver peeps). In addition as a travel advisor I have access to a new app (DragonSlayerTravel) that provides well-rounded information about safety in a destination (Contact me if you’d like me to send you a summation).
Despite my preparations, being “on the road” again felt a little disorienting. It had been eight months since taking a flight. My suitcase was too packed. Extra Covid supplies crowded my Carry-On. I was forever looking for something in my bag! Do you remember ever feeling disorganized during your travels?
Nevertheless I felt confident about how to keep myself healthy while also considering those around me. With precautions throughout the journey, such as wearing a mask, washing my hands and socially distancing, travel became possible again. If there was a crowd I avoided it. If a person was too close, I stepped farther away. You get the picture.
There were times when it wasn’t possible to socially distance. Yet monitoring my own space still augmented a sense of security. Although at times fear was still very real in my head staying vigilant helped.
Although I’m not advocating to “travel with abandon” or disregard country and state warnings, I am saying that traveling is more possible than we might imagine and not as risky as the scary thoughts in our heads. We can be rational and determine how to travel safely. What feels safe is a personal choice.
Here are some tips for supporting your decision To Travel or Not To Travel:
Get organized ahead of showing up Where are my glasses? Where’s my phone? Where’s my ID? Where’s my hand sanitizer? Determine a place for these items and stick to it. Put them back where you know they’ll be. Where’s your face mask? Easy! You’re wearing it.
Look for ways to expedite navigating security. TSE Pre is a good bet. Although lines can be long they usually move quickly. Explore whether there are any enhanced offerings at your airport to help speed up the process. Denver just started a new program called Verifly and my time through security was minimal (five minutes). While traveling on the shuttle to my gate I was the only person in the train car. Travel during “off” times.
Pay attention Most travelers walk around the terminal like they’re on a mission. They’re not necessarily watching the social distance. Walk slower and create your own spaces as much as possible.
Listen for announcements because the boarding process has changed. No talking on your phone with your spouse or child – you might miss important details. On Southwest boarding numbers were called in groups of ten. The walkway to the plane was never full and there was no waiting. Flight attendants handed out sanitizer wipes. On the outbound flight the middle seat was free. Read about current processes and policies on airline websites.
Wipe It Down Anyway (even if thoughts are irrational)
Despite the hotel remote that was wrapped in its own package I kept wondering about other places my hands touched- lamp switches, the nifty iPad for ordering food, door handles, patio chairs- so I grabbed my wipes and cleaned. Not so rational since Covid transmission is mainly airborne. Honestly hotels and airplanes are cleaner than they’ve ever been. I felt safe at the different properties and on my flights, safer then going to a grocery store any day!
Identify a Testing Site
Seventy two hours before flying I schedule a Covid test through my doctor’s office. When arriving in Los Angeles I also had considered a Rapid Test. Determine what level of testing feels right to keep others safe and create a testing schedule for your trip. Even if you feel healthy having additional Covid tests means a level of extra physical and emotional security. Family and friends will appreciate your efforts.
Some Suggestions for What to bring (1) Headphones; (2) Covid cleaning materials to feel safe; (3) Multiple facemarks for your entire trip; (4) You’re own water bottle; (5) Pack one bag and bring it on the plane to lesson time spent at the airport.
There are many considerations To Travel Or Not To Travel. When we’re out in the world we have a greater risk of being exposed or infecting others who are more vulnerable. True. Yet there might be reasons you need to travel. Travel is a calculated risk. Do you homework. If you know what to expect along the way you can manage the risks and your fears. To Travel or Not To Travel- this is a personal choice.