Traveling during the pandemic brings the obvious risk of a COVID infection. Stories about breakouts in hotels or passengers lying about being infected with the coronavirus have been spreading as quickly as the virus itself. With the virus still not under control, we should avoid traveling as much as possible. According to the CDC, travel can increase your chance of contracting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. But for many, traveling is not optional. Family situations or work could mean that there is no other choice than to travel. This blog is written for those travelers that have no choice, other than to hop on a plane and gives an overview of some extreme measures you can take to protect yourself against COVID-19 while traveling.
The new British mutant virus is rumoured to spread 70% faster than the original coronavirus. Protection matters more than before. In this blog we explore the extreme measures which travellers can take to protect themselves and others beyond the normal levels of protection.
In this blog we are separating two different segments of protection. The first segment is about all the protective gear that we can wear to make sure our persons are protected from the virus. The second segment is all about cleaning or covering potentially contaminated surfaces that we could get in contact with.
Be aware that traveling is not recommended during the pandemic. Follow all guidelines from local authorities, such as the US CDC, keep distance and wear a facemask at all times.
Segment 1: Protecting ourselves
The best way to protect ourselves against the coronavirus, is by making sure that particles cannot reach us. We do this by wearing personal protection equipment such as facemasks. In this overview you can see the basic and extreme measures we can take to protect ourselves from getting the virus. Read more about basic COVID-19 protection while flying in our special blog.
The Basics: Face masks & hand sanitizer
The first layer of our extreme COVID protection kit starts with the basics. According to the CDC, the most important weapon, beyond keeping social distance, is regularly cleaning our hands. Face masks and hand sanitizer are the first two items to bring on your journey. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when in public settings. Masks are not a substitute for social distancing. Face masks are also mandatory in most means of transport around the world such as airplanes, taxis and public transports.
The second basic part of your protection layer is clean hands. Preferably, you should wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds. Unfortunately, when traveling, soap and water are not always around. Especially after touching door handles or machines such as ticket dispensers, there is no opportunity to immediately run to the restrooms and wash your hands. Hand sanitizer can be a good alternative if it contains at least 60% alcohol.
Additional layer: Face shields & gloves
While face masks and clean hands are the most important step in protecting ourselves and others against the virus, we can of course go the extra mile. During the pandemic, there are ways to protect ourselves beyond what is recommended. For just a little extra money you can add an additional layer of protection.
One of those additional layers can be to add a face shield which prevents covid-19 particles from flying into for example your eyes. These screens protect parts of your face that aren’t protected by your face mask and are pretty comfortable as they are equipped with soft sponges and elastic head bands. Please note that a spit screen doesn’t replace a face mask but can only serve as an additional protection layer.
Disposable gloves can also offer another layer of protection. It is important to properly use plastic gloves and don’t touch your face with them for example. If you properly use gloves and take them off without touching the ‘dirty parts’ with your hands, plastic gloves can protect you in situations where you have to touch a lot of surfaces.
The extreme covid protection layer: Disposable full suit coveralls
The third step in our ultimate and extreme COVID-19 protection travel kit is protecting the rest of your body. You can use a disposable full suit coverall to make sure you reduce your exposure to the virus. These large coverall suits are comfortable as long as you buy a large size. With the coverall suit you create a massive physical barrier between your body and the virus. These suits are worn by health professionals around the world but are not recommended for protective commercial use.
As early as August, I have seen people in airports wearing these full suit coveralls. Although some people around you may be a bit surprised or sceptical if you take such extreme measures, there is no need to feel selfcontious as nobody will recognize you anyway. You are anonymously protected against the virus.
Segment 2: Cleaning and covering our surroundings
The second segment of this blog focusses on cleaning our surroundings. We are continuously surrounded by potentially contaminated surfaces. Especially while travelling and moving around in airports, airplanes, buses and taxis, we are not alone. You don’t know what hygiene measures other passengers have (not) taken and it is impossible to know who touched what surfaces before you. In this part of the blog, we have listed multiple items that can be used to clean the things we touch. We cover the basic, as well as the extreme measures that we can take to protect ourselves from COVID-19.
Basic protection: Alcohol wipes & disinfection spray
Even before the pandemic, lots of travellers were already cleaning their airplane seat with alcohol wipes, a very helpful practice in these times as well. If you don’t think cleaning your seat and tray table with alcohol wipes is not enough protection anymore, there are multiple ways to go the extra mile in creating a clean environment for yourself.
You can even go as far as to completely cover up your airplane seat. These seat covers are easy to use and make your direct environment much more hygienic. When opting for seat covers, it is important to keep in mind that there is a big difference between the cheap seat covers, which don’t fit perfectly and could tear when you move, and premium seat covers, made from stronger materials that also cover the seat arms for example. We recommend to invest in quality as the last thing you want is to rely on these products only to find out after a while that they are not keeping you safe at all.
In addition to covering your seat, you should also not forget to cover your tray table. There are handy and cheap plastic covers that quickly cover up one of the most touched and arguably dirtiest parts of your airplane seat.
TSA Security Bin Cover
The one thing I have never seen anyone at the airport clean, are the bins at security. These bins, used to put your belongings in for scanning, are handled by thousands of fellow passengers and security staff that see hundreds of people per hour. A simple disposable security bin cover will protect you from getting exposed to potentially contaminated surfaces.
Segment 3: Other protective measures
Apart from protecting ourselves and cleaning our surroundings, there are other tools that can help you limit your exposure to the virus. Here are some additional protective tips.
No contact door opener
Nobody likes the idea of having to touch surfaces that we know lots of other people have touched as well. Door handles are arguably the worst object that we have to touch. This no contact door opener is the perfect tool to make sure you don’t have to touch these, often contaminated, surfaces anymore.
Infrared forehead thermometer
The accuracy of forehead thermometers is highly debated but it is a convenient and hygenic device for the thousands of travelers that want to be able to keep track of their body temperature while abroad. So we went out to search for the best forehead thermometer and based on our analysis on Amazon reviews and found the following thermometer which is also not too expensive. With over 80,000 reviews and 4.5 stars on Amazon we believe we found a good forehead thermometer. Nevertheless, for accuracy we still recommend the old school oral ones. Also, although it is a tempting idea, maybe don’t start to randomly scan your fellow travellers without their permission!
Bring your own Cutlery
In oder to make sure you never have to grab your cutlery from one of those big containers that everyone gets their dirty hands in, it is a great idea to bring your own cutlery. And instead of carrying around lots of different items, why not bring a single tool that works as a knive, spoon and fork. We recommend a ‘spork’ made out of (recycled) plastic or wood to increase your chances of getting this handy gadget on board of a plane (no TSA guarantees of course).
Carebag / vomit bag
In case you tend to get air sick for example, prevent getting even sicker by contaminating yourself with viruses and bacteria on the often touched (but not used) vomit bag. Bring your own care bag. This doesn’t just keep you from using frequently touched objects, it also helps dispose of any disposables as hygienic as possible.
COVID Social Distance Sticker
Nothing is more annoying than going above and beyond in protecting yourself only to find that all your efforts are useless because others are not following the rules. So we think, why not remind them by putting a big distance sticker on your full body coverall or suitcase. This COVID social distance sticker is impossible to miss and will remind anyone from getting too close. In case people don’t keep distance, you have an easy conversation starter to get them to back off. And if this doesn’t work, we recommend just sticking one on their backs.