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Healthy Travel Tips

By: Dr. Norman Beatty / 23 Jul 2020
Black Sunglass

Safe Summer Travel:

  • Outdoor activities (without close contact to others) appears to be your safest bet when trying to avoid risk but still looking for some summer fun. This includes activities like going camping or hiking at your favorite State or National Park. Playing tennis or golfing are other outdoor activities that avoid close contact but still allow for a safe distance between players.
  • Face coverings are still a good idea if you are going to be out in public, and keeping hand sanitizer with you will allow for easy access to cleaning your hands after touching surfaces.
  • Avoid crowds greater than ten people and maintain at least a 6-foot distance when walking in public spaces.
  • Eating at a restaurant with outdoor seating is a safe way to enjoy a meal away from home. However, if they allow for take out, you can easily bring your food to the outdoors! My wife and I have found some great opportunities to sit and talk, and enjoy a nice evening in a beautiful park while eating some of our favorite dishes.
  • Take a road trip! Many are finding their way to the open road to experience the great outdoors. All you need is a recreational vehicle and place to go, and you're off. Pumping gas is a low-risk activity, as long as you pay at the pump. Remember to use hand sanitizer after you fill up! If you are going to stay at an RV park, avoid having visitors over to your camp, as they could potentially be infected.
  • Remember, if you are going to be camping and have a campfire, keep the hand sanitizer away from the flames. It is typically flammable and could ignite.

Traveling on a plane :

-If you decide on traveling by plane this summer, here are some helpful tips to protect yourself and others:
• Wash your hands often using soap and water, and use hand sanitizer before and after getting on a plane.
• Bring alcohol-based hand sanitizer (≥60% alcohol) with you to use while on the flight as needed. According to TSA regulations, you are allowed to bring up to 12 ounces per passenger.
• Wearing a face covering is necessary while traveling in an airport and while on the airplane. If you have an N95 respirator it is also not unreasonable to wear it while in the airport and during your flight. Since being on an airplane puts you in close proximity to others, you have an increased risk of transmission.
• Avoid close quarters while in the airport and terminals if possible. This would include a visibly crowded bathroom, restaurant or store, where social distancing may not be possible.

Staying in a hotel:

-To minimize your risk while staying at a hotel, here are some useful tips to protect yourself and those traveling with you:
• Prior to traveling and booking your accommodations, research what the COVID-19 prevention practices are for the hotel, such as contact-free options for check-in, room key access and payment. By making a simple call to the hotel, you can find out if they require staff to wear face coverings at work, provide protection barriers at front desk, social distancing signage in the lobby and updated cleaning and disinfecting policies in response to COVID-19.
• Wear a face covering while in the hotel lobby and other areas in the hotel where people are traveling.
• Minimize small, crowded areas at the hotel that don't allow for social distancing .
• Consider taking the stairs as opposed to the elevator if possible, or wait to take the elevator either alone or only with the people you are traveling with.
• Travel luggage can be cleaned with alcohol-based wipes or sprays. Make sure the product contains at least 60% or more alcohol and read the manufacturer's label for your luggage prior to applying. Some luggage could be damaged by the alcohol, so be careful.

Tips for families:

Here are some tips for families during the COVID-19 pandemic to stay safe and minimize risk of transmission:
  • Know the risk of COVID-19 in your community. Is the virus spreading and what are the rates of infection where you live? Knowing these two simple things are important and will help you determine if contact with your loved ones, friends and neighbors is safe.
  • Knowing who is at highest risk for severe disease from COVID-19 in your family or extended family may also be important. Those with pre-existing conditions or the elderly may want to avoid any contact with others, as the risk for a serious illness may be high.
  • Wear a face covering in public spaces and maintain social distancing. This could be challenging with children and stubborn adults, but it is important to remember the spread of this virus is primarily from person to person.
  • Spend time together outdoors and find activities where you can maintain social distancing when gathering. Some activities to consider include playing tennis and golfing. Going on a hike or boating on your favorite lake as a family may also be a way you can have fun but still avoid contact with others. Make sure to follow your local and state regulations.
  • Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer (≥60% alcohol) can be an easy way to keep hands disinfected, but make sure you keep it out of reach of children.
  • Do not use hand sanitizer if your hands are visibly dirty or soiled, instead wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Do not attempt to make your own hand sanitizers, as this could be dangerous and the product may actually be ineffective at destroying the virus. Some homemade hand sanitizers have been shown to be toxic and potentially cause chemical burns.
  • Make sure you are aware of the stress the pandemic is having on you and your loved ones. Both adults and children are being affected in ways we may not have imagined before the pandemic started. Try to open up a conversation with your family or loved one on what their experience has been like during this unique time. Some topics to discuss might be the impact of social distancing, school closures and workplace changes.

Tips provided by:

Dr. Norman Beatty,

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Division of Infectious Disease and Global Medicine 

UF Health

Full bio:

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