With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic impacting much of the world, the CDC recommends a few basic strategies to help contain the spread of the virus: wearing a facemask, social distancing, and washing your hands.
In addition, the CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel and staying home as much as you can. But for many people, that’s not always possible. If you have to travel, there are ways to protect yourself. Most importantly, make sure you’re healthy yourself. If you are feeling even slightly sick, stay home. If you’ve been exposed to someone with a known or suspected case of COVID-19, do not travel. If you’re 100 percent healthy, read on for the best ways to maintain your health when travel is unavoidable.
Seven Tips to Help You Stay Healthy When Traveling
- Get a COVID–19 test before traveling. Even if you’re not showing any symptoms, get a COVID-19 test before you travel out of state. Many places offer COVD-19 testing, including urgent care centers, pharmacies, travel clinics, pop-up testing sites, and hospitals. If you have any questions about the best place for testing, check with your primary care provider. City and state health department websites may also have a list of testing locations.
- Wear a face mask to protect yourself and others and limit the spread of germs and viruses. You should wear a face mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a health care provider’s office.
- Wash your hands frequently. People often underestimate the importance of handwashing because it’s so simple. The fact is, it’s still the best way to protect yourself from illness and prevent the spread of germs. Handwashing is especially important when you travel since you come in contact with dozens of surfaces that numerous people touch on a regular basis. Door handles, light switches, faucets, railings, etc. are all teeming with microscopic germs that can make you sick. And remember, there’s a right and wrong way to wash your hands. So, make sure you’ve got your handwashing technique down pat. That includes washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have access to a sink, hand sanitizer is a good alternative. Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. This will help prevent germs and illness from entering your body.
- Wipe down surfaces. Public transportation brings you in close contact with countless germs. Wiping down tray tables, headrests, and armrests with disinfectant wipes can help reduce the number of germs you come in contact with.
- Maintain 6 feet of distance from others. While you may be confined to small spaces with others on a packed bus or train or long lines at the airport, you should try to keep at least 6 feet away from other people whenever possible. Some respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, can spread through droplets in the air when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or talks near you.
- Get the flu shot. While work continues toward developing a vaccine for COVID-19, it is critical to get the flu shot. When you’re traveling, you’re exposed to many more germs than usual, so your flu risk increases. Make sure you get your shot before you depart.
Finally, if you start to feel sick while traveling, be sure to consult with a doctor.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation and travel guidance may vary from state to state and country to country. Always check local travel advisories before departing.