There’s a lot of stress already involved in traveling even without a global pandemic. From long TSA lines to rushing through the airport with baggage and transferring flights, traveling involves managing a lot of things at once. Between reminding yourself to pack the right gear for different weather and climate changes, planning itineraries, and the dreaded jet lag as you fly through different time zones, you find yourself more stressed than excited for your trip. On top of that, there’s the big anxiety about traveling during COVID-19.
“Flying might not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”– Amelia Earhart
If you’ve ever experienced a bad flight or two, you already know how frustrating it can be. Take a deep breath and keep a few things in mind before you get overwhelmed. First, you’ll need to figure out logistics like how to get to and from the airport, booking hotels, and making sure your flight is on time. Once you secure your flight date and ticket, you’ll have to prepare for your trip. In this blog post, we’re sharing travel tips during COVID-19 to help you stay safe, relaxed, and comfortable. Make health and wellness a priority especially you’re on the go. Whether you are traveling for business or leisure, being prepared will save you a lot of stress and anxiety.
Is It Safe to Fly During COVID?
It’s pretty nerve wrecking when you think about being stuck on an airplane next to strangers for hours at a time during a global pandemic. You may be wondering: Is it safe to travel during a global pandemic? What travel restrictions do you need to know? Is it safe to stay at a hotel or AirBNB? What TSA rules have been made to reflect travel safety standards? How efficient are HEPA air filters on airplanes and hotels?
It’s understandable if you’re antsy about sharing cabin air with hundreds of people on a plane. However, you can relax a little knowing that the air is filtered on airplanes. According to the CDC, germs don’t spread easily on flights thanks to commercial air filters and good ventilation systems. According to WHO, cabin air circulates 20-30 times per hour through HEPA filters that remove more than 99% of airborne particles. With HEPA filters, COVID safety precautions and sanitation protocol, the chances of catching COVID on a flight is pretty low. Wear your mask, remind others to keep their masks on, and use hand sanitizers and wipes as often as needed. As long as you do your part and stay smart when traveling, you have little to worry.
Make the most of your trip by planning ahead. Avoid unwanted surprises such as quarantine requirements and travel restrictions that might affect your travel plans. Before you book a 5-day tour of Hawaii, find out what mandatory quarantines are in place. You don’t want to miss a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon or epic island hopping tour because you’re stuck in quarantine. So be sure to do your due diligence before making travel plans.
Consider travel insurance and make sure you have all of your vaccinations and health insurance documents. Make a photocopy of important travel documents and ID cards and leave it in a safe place with a trusted family or friend. In case you ever misplace your ID or lose your passport, you can call home to retrieve your ID numbers. A little bit of research and planning for the unexpected help you travel with peace of mind.
Avoid Jet Lag with Healthy Sleep Habits
If you don’t think jet lag is a big deal, think again. Jet lag affects your hormones and mood. It can last from a few days to up to two weeks! Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder so it’s not surprising that you might feel irritable, unfocused, fatigued, or even have changes in your appetite. Jet lag can cause minor insomnia issues. This is why it is important to get a full night’s rest before and after a flight.
One of the best ways to avoid jet lag is by adjusting to the timezone of your destination. Do this en route by changing the time your watch immediately after boarding. Carry earplugs, noise-cancelling earphones, eye mask and a comfortable travel pillow. Getting a good night’s rest is important for mental and physical wellness. This is especially true when you are traveling on long haul flights.
Pack Essential Items
Scrambling towards the airport or security check at the last minute increases anxiety. It becomes worse when you suddenly realize you have left an important document at home. Create a checklist and plan your trip accordingly. Carry all important documents like boarding pass, ID, and reservation document in a travel organizer. Check-in online, arrive at the airport early, and use valet services if you can.
Here’s a packing list to start with:
- Phone and phone charger
- Adapters if you are traveling abroad
- Hand sanitizer
- Socks and underwear
- Medication if needed
- Small first aid kit
- Pen and paper
- Pocket tissues
- Ear plugs and eye mask
- Moisturizer and sunscreen
- Contacts lenses and case / solution
- Compression socks for long flights
- Travel pillow
- Book or Kindle
Use compression cubes or vacuum sealed bags to pack your clothes. Sticking with a packing list will help you stay organized, avoid overpacking, and ensure you don’t forget important items.
Don’t Forget Your Hand Sanitizer and Vitamin C
Remember those little plastic bins at the TSA line? Well, guess what. They are loaded with germs. And everything else. Public restrooms. Armrests, tray tables, seat belts, the seats and tables at the waiting area at the gate!
It’s a good idea to carry hand sanitizer with you. Don’t worry about overusing the hand sanitizer. Most decent hand sanitizers have excellent moisturizing ingredients such as aloe vera so they shouldn’t dry out your skin. The CDC recommends hand sanitizers that have at least 70% alcohol. Anything less than 70% alcohol or alcohol-free hand sanitizers may not be effective. If the alcohol does bother or irritate your skin, you can always use a good hand cream to keep your skin hydrated. Plus, a nice hand cream is a small self-care treat that is affordable and on-the-go.
It’s also a good idea to take a pack of vitamin C supplements with you. You can add it to your water if you have the powder vitamin C packets like Emergen-C. Or if you prefer tablets, there are different options available such as Airborne or Nuun to boost your immunity. Just for extra precaution, you can take one vitamin C supplement the day before traveling. Take a second supplement during your travels or when you settle down after your flight.
Generally, the average adult can take one vitamin C supplement per day. Just don’t overdo it because your body won’t absorb excess vitamin C anyway. For other supplements, just be careful about not taking over the recommended dosage since overdosing on vitamins can lead to serious organ damage. For example, too much vitamin A can cause liver damage. So be sure to check in with a doctor about medications and vitamin supplements.
Wear Comfortable Layers
Drastically varying temperatures affect mood and comfort level. When the temperature is too warm, you feel uncomfortable and lethargic. When the temperature is too cool, your body has to use extra energy to keep yourself warm. A research article published in Elsevier shows that temperatures above 70oF reduce emotional wellbeing. Cabin temperatures are usually around 75oF because flight attendants keep moving about. Therefore, it’s always better to check temperatures before traveling anywhere.
Wear a light tee shirt and layer with a light cardigan or sweater especially if you are traveling to different cities with different weathers and climates. Be prepared for the next time you travel from humid Orlando to windy Chicago or from snowy Boston to sunny California. Carry a jacket since it is easy to wear and take it off without a fuss.
Travel Light, Travel Smart, and Travel Slow
There are benefits to traveling light. Not only do you reduce the stress of overpacking and tugging an oversized suitcase around, you don’t have to worry about extra bag fees or risk forgetting to pack important belongings on your return trip. Packing light is a skill. If you’re a travel warrior, you probably already have your packing routine figured out. But if you’re new to the club, there are some basics you need to know.
First, get rid of bulky luggage and get yourself a sleek carry-on suitcase. Choose a four-wheeled suitcase with spinner wheels instead of in-line skate wheels. Skate wheels function in a straight line which means you have to drag your luggage behind you everywhere you go. Unlike skate wheels, spinner wheels will give you the ability to maneuver your suitcase in any direction since spinner wheels are functional in 360 degrees. Carry-on spinner suitcases makes traveling so much easier because you can effortlessly navigate through the airport with a light suitcase.
“He who would travel happily must travel light.”– Antoine de St. Exupery
Traveling smart means you don’t over plan your itinerary. You allow time in your travel plans for things like self-care, relaxation, and just being open to spontaneous activities. Plus, you’re already traveling light so that means you can quickly pack and go! More time to explore and be adventurous. Less time trying to fit every tourist checklist item.
If you haven’t heard of slow travel, it’s traveling with intention and purpose. Slow travel allows you to immerse yourself in authentic experiences. Connect with people, food, and culture wherever your journey takes you. Slow tourism or eco-tourism is the opposite of over tourism. Instead of exploiting local people and cultures, slow travel focuses on meaningful experiences with people across different cultures.
You never know what little treasures you’ll discover or come across on your trip. You might even have room in your suitcase to bring back a small gift or souvenir. When you travel light and keep things simple, you’re able to focus more on the travel experience instead of stressing over trivial things like whether or not you should bring an extra pair of jeans, a necklace for every top, or your really nice bathrobe.
Sign up for CLEAR or TSA PreCheck
Avoid stress at the airport with early check-in and TSA approved security check . If you’re a frequent flyer or travel at least twice a year, consider signing up for CLEAR or TSA PreCheck. It’ll cut down the time and stress for you at TSA lines. No more fumbling through pockets for keys and cell phone. No more taking off your shoes and awkwardly going through TSA barefoot or in your socks. No more stripping yourself down and removing your carefully planned layers. When you eliminate the hassle of the whole TSA process, suddenly your travel experience is so much more enjoyable. The TSA precheck costs about $85 and Global Entry cost about $100 for five years. That averages to about $1.66 per month! Talk about a solid ROI.
Charge Electronics Ahead of Time
Fully charge all your devices the night before your flight. If you are traveling long hours or international, it’s a good idea to carry one or two fully charged backup batteries. Don’t count on charging electronics before your flight or during layovers. In case of emergencies, it’s risky running low on battery and hoping you’ll come across an available outlet. When you do find an outlet, it might already be occupied or even broken.
If you’re lucky, your flight has outlets to charge small devices such as a USB plug for your phone. Use electronics minimally and only as needed if your battery is low. It’ll save you the anxiety of hunting for a charging station while rushing through the airport terminal or flight gate. Plus, you won’t have any issues showing your electronics to TSA in case they ever need to check if your devices are properly functioning or question you about your uncharged cell phone.
Skip the Line with Early Check-in
One of the easiest things you can do to prepare for your flight is early check-in. Most airlines offer online check-ins. With early check-in, you can select a preferred seat, upgrade your flight experience, and pay for bag fees ahead of time. Many airlines offer mobile apps that allow you to check in early for your flights. Typically, you can check-in for a flight about 24 hours ahead.
Online check-in is a major advantage because you don’t have to wait in line at the airport. This is especially helpful if you are traveling during peak season or during busy holiday periods. A faster check-in experience means you can also go through TSA sooner so you can finally settle down for your flight. You also don’t have to worry about technical issues such as unavailable or broken kiosks. You save so much time and stress with early check-in. It’s just a no-brainer!
Book a Travel Lounge
A travel lounge can come in handy if your flight is delayed or if you have unexpected changes in your travel plans. Take advantage of the time between flights to relax, nourish your body, hydrate, call a loved one, or do a quick meditation. Having access to an airport lounge is definitely a nice travel perk to have.
Pre-book a lounge if you can. You can book a one-time lounge pass or if you are a frequent flyer, make sure to check in with your airline or frequent flyer program to see if you can redeem any travel perks. Many credit cards offer miles programs and travel amenities or rewards programs.
If you have a long haul flight with over 4 hours layover or if you are traveling multi-city, consider booking an airport lounge where you can restore some mental energy and relax in a secured space. A travel lounge or airport lounge is the perfect place to refresh and recharge. Close your eyes and sink into meditation for a couple of minutes. Put an alarm so that you still have enough time to catch the next flight.
Eat Healthy Snacks
According to the Harvard Medical School, an average American consumes more than 350 calories from added sugar and 1,100 milligrams from added salt every day. And it becomes worse during travel. This causes increased risks to high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity. You need to pack healthy snacks like nuts, sandwiches, cereals, crackers, and dried fruit.
If you have a long haul flight, prepare mini-meals that don’t require refrigeration. If possible, pack plane food and snacks that don’t need utensils. As long as your hands are clean and you have your hand sanitizer and napkin, you’re good to go! Things like pita chips and hummus are excellent healthy options. Cashews, almonds, grapes, and crackers are convenient plane snacks. Include a treat such as a small chocolate bar or biscotti but avoid overly sugary desserts and overly salty snacks. Baked goods such as banana bread and flaxseed muffins can fill you up. Just be sure to store them in a container instead of a brown paper bag since baked goods may have butter that can transfer through paper bags and become messy.
According to a CBS report, 75% of Americans are dehydrated. Because cabin air is cool and dry, already dehydrated travelers need to drink even more water. Water has tremendous wellness benefits. It improves brain function, increases energy levels, maximizes physical performance, prevents headaches, and aids in weight loss. Ideally, you should carry a reusable water bottle and fill it up. However, COVID-19 precautions means water fountains are temporarily unavailable so the next best thing is bottled water.
Depending on where you are traveling, your water intake varies. If you are traveling to a high-altitude location such as Manchu Picchu or Mount Kilimanjaro, it his important to stay hydrated because your body loses fluids faster when humidity decreases. However, drinking too much water can make you sick. This is because too much water can dilute the sodium levels in your blood which can cause overhydration.
Turn Layovers Into ”Me Time”
Layovers can be boring or stressful. But it is a wonderful time to gather yourself, stretch, eat a nutritious meal, and relax. While a mini spa or salon is something you might not expect to see at an airport, you’ll be surprised to discover express mani-pedi services and chair massages.
Go for a little walk. Do small shopping or just browse shops for fun. Do a little “sight seeing” at the airport if there are art installations or exhibits. You might even find a cool sculpture or fun souvenir shop.
The Portland International Airport and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport feature short films, documentaries, and music videos. Some international airports feature movie theaters. Just to name a few: the Changi Airport in Singapore, Incheon Airport in Seoul, Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, and the Hong Kong International Airport. The Palm Beach International Airport features a mini-golf course while the Nashville International Airport hosts live music performed by local musicians.
Enjoy Your Favorite Book, Music, Movie, or Podcast
The Kindle has been built for reading while travelling. Don’t want to read? Then, listen to audiobooks on Audible. And why pay for WIFi when Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, and HULU allow downloads for offline viewing. For music, Spotify Premium allows you to listen to your playlists offline and costs only about $10 a month. Plus, they have podcasts too.
Relax and Enjoy the Ride
Make the most of sky time by looking at it as a quiet time for you to relax. Sure, it’s not your ideal place and you have to share a flight with other people. Sure, it’s not like being at home in your own comfy bed or enjoying a luxurious bed and breakfast inn. But you can make your travel experience as pleasant as possible by planning ahead with all of the tips we shared. Bring a book or magazine. Download a podcast you’ve always wanted to listen. Enjoy your favorite playlist or write that book you’ve always wanted to write. Because now you have the time! Or if you prefer to do nothing at all, just sit back and let your thoughts drift away with the clouds. You might even be able to catch the stars or see a spectacular view of the sunset or sunrise.
Travel during COVID has its challenges but it shouldn’t stop you from being where you need to be. Apart from carrying sanitizers, wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing, you also need to take care of your health and wellness. Wear light clothes, sleep and eat well, drink ample amounts of water, stay entertained, and meditate if you can for a smooth and happy journey.