Coronavirus – travel tips to stay safe
Even though the coronavirus is still as fear-inducing as ever, don’t let it start getting you down. You can still look forward to your holidays because the World Health Organisation gave the green light for us travel bugs to go on our 2020 retreat.
For most part, once we get to our holiday destination of choice, avoiding the masses is easy. The toughest part of travelling? It’s got to be being stuck in an enclosed air cabin with dozens of strangers who… might possibly be carriers. Eeek. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of coronavirus travel tips to keep you safe and virus-free inflight so you can travel in peace!
Consider yourself super heng if you’re reading this with plans to cancel your holiday bookings in mind.
1. Check your travel insurance to see if you can postpone your trip
The coronavirus outbreak may not be seen as unexpected
Image credit: Traveller
If you’ve been itching to go to the outskirts of South Korea, it might be best to postpone that trip for another time. With the spike of 602 infected persons from Daegu and Cheongdo, this makes South Korea has the highest national toll outside of China. President Moon Jae-in has declared DORSCON Red in the country, the highest level of the DORSCON system.
For the lot of you with pre-purchased flight tickets to Seoul, now’s probably the best time to check that travel insurance to see if you’re able to postpone your trip FOC. A virus outbreak falls under known events and won’t be covered by most insurance policies in the event of self-cancellation.
But! If you’re one of the super kiasu ones who upgrades your standard insurance to include the Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) option, you’ll most likely be entitled to free trips postponements or full refunds on your fully-paid tickets to the affected destination. Do check with your travel insurance provider for more details!
2. Sanitise your tray tables, seat belts and window shades
Image credit: Smarter Travel
Our designated seats on a flight may look clean to the naked eye, but planes usually have just a short window of time between flights for a good clean. In times like this, you’ll have to take matters into your own hands.
Seats and tray tables, especially seat belts and headrests, are notorious for being the dirtiest areas in the airplane as many other passengers have sat in your seat before your scheduled flight. Wiping down surfaces with antibacterial wipes or hand sanitisers with at least 60% alcohol content to reduce your chances of contracting COVID-19.
Try to opt for airlines that offer leather seats for easy sanitising before you take off. Otherwise, you can change out of your flight clothes and seal them in a Ziploc bag to wash them once you get to your hotel. Don’t worry about the 100ML hand carry liquid limit, your little bottle of sanitiser should be more than enough for the flight.
3. Stay ahead of news and avoid travelling to high-risk countries
Check your destination’s travel health notice website before making your booking
Even if you’re stoked to leave the country, unfazed by the coronavirus situation, don’t just jet off to any country. Other than China, South Korea, Japan, and Italy are other countries that you should avoid going to due to the sheer number of cases rising daily.
While South Korea’s official cases grew by 200+ overnight, Japan’s cases rose to 149, excluding the Diamond Princess ship cases. There’s also a new growing hotspot outside of Asia that is Italy with 229 cases*.
The country has put in place a lockdown on towns in Lombardy and Veneto to isolate the spread of the virus – that puts Milan and Venice out of the equation completely! With new cases popping up all around, keep yourself constantly updated with COVID-19 when planning your travels.
*All numbers are accurate at the time of writing.
4. Opt for an aisle seat for easy-access to the toilet
Image credit: @ariftirtosudiro
When booking your seats online, it’s best to get the aisle seats to walk to the lavatory without having to feel paiseh every time you get out of your seat. If you tend to leave seat booking to the last minute, harness that inner kiasu auntie energy to come early to the airport to get your seats ASAP.
When it comes to hygiene, nothing beats washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Even your hand sanitiser can’t compete. With an aisle seat, you have easy-access to thoroughly wash your hands whenever you feel them get germy without disturbing your row mates.
It’s time to chope your aisle seats for your upcoming travels!
5. Don’t put your things in the plane seat’s back pocket
Image credit: Icy Tales
Having the trusty back pocket to keep our phones and passports may be handy but it’s also a potential spot to harbour the coronavirus. From used tissues to filled sick bags, these pockets are infamous for having high levels of organisms tucked away in there.
To play it safe, keep your belongings in your bag or in hand to prevent external contamination. Sanitising your devices regularly will also help prevent the spread of germs
6. Open the air vents above your seat
Image credit: Traveller
The risk of contracting the coronavirus or any other serious viral infection during a flight is surprisingly very low due to the surgical-grade filters built into airplanes. Although the air circulated in the cabin craft is 50% recycled, it’s constantly pushed through those filters. This effectively rids the air we breathe off of bacteria and other toxins.
In order to avoid catching the flu bug or the novel coronavirus from a nearby passenger, open the air vents above you to send filtered air your way. This can also prevent the droplets from travelling to you, effectively pushing them to the ground.
This can reduce your chances of getting sick but it shouldn’t lower your guard in terms of the crucial hygiene practices. Practices like masking up or washing your hands regularly is your best bet to keep the virus away.
7. Immediately dispose of your soiled tissues
Image credit: World Health Organisation
We can do our part and practice good hygiene, sick or not. Having a pack of tissues ready while you’re out and about is good to catch any unexpected coughs or sneezes. Just as you’d hate for someone to openly sneeze or cough around you without having their mouth covered, covering your own with a tissue when you do is giving others that same courtesy.
It also stops the droplets from spreading to your surroundings if you do happen to be sick. After doing the deed, bin your tissues quickly and sanitise your hands to prevent germs from spreading to someone else. If you’ve run out of tissues, there are other ways for you to prevent the spread of any bacteria to anyone or any surface.
Coronavirus travel tips
COVID-19 might have put your thoughts of jetting off to your dream destination on hold, but fortunately, you don’t have to feel uneasy if you’re travelling.
Through practices like regular washing of your hands and being socially responsible not to spread germs can effectively reduce your chances of contracting the coronavirus or spreading it. Now, you can travel with an ease of mind, knowing that you’re taking measures to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from coronavirus.
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