Well, as you might imagine, this story dated March 3rd is old news! We went and then we changed our plans on March 9th and came back 10 days early.
Read the story of our journey back home going through empty airports, flying on empty planes, going through health screenings and riding just ahead of the curve to get back home to our safe haven in Napa Valley.
Should we stay, or Should we go! Well, we decided to Go! Up, Up, and Away!
To Travel or Not to Travel – Being Prepared, Being Smart and Don’t Be Afraid! Off We Go!
Well for the last couple of weeks the question of the hour was should we still embark on our long-planned travel journey across the pond and beyond to our 4 days in Dubai and our 2 weeks in Sicily and then Rome for 4 days to see old friends. After much deliberation and very little hesitation, we decided to carry on with our travel plans. So off we go!!
How to travel safely during these media accelerated uncertain times. One of the many points we took into consideration was how to travel safely during the coronavirus outbreak around the world. What preparations and precautions should we take knowing that much of our travel was going to be by air travel with a variety of flights going into Dubai, then to Rome, then to Catania and then to London via Rome to fly home to San Francisco Airport?
One of the biggest measurements and criteria we explored were details on how to thoroughly disinfect our airplane seats and our surroundings on our flights. Whether a short-haul or a long haul, the same precautions and preparations would be necessary to take measurements into our own hands to avoid getting sick from germs on an aircraft. And what other smart healthy and safe travel necessities should we bring.
Research studies on the spread of germs
In a recent study done by Reservations.com with regards to the spread of germs on an airplane showed that nearly 20% of passengers have flown sick as we have all seen on numerous flights in the past. Shockingly 19% of passengers don’t always wash their hands after using the bathrooms on the plane, yuck, shame on those of you that are neglectful in your hygiene. Wash your hands, please!
On our recent flight to Miami a few weeks ago, we began our thorough regime in taking additional travel safety precautions. Upon boarding and arriving at our seat we took our disinfectant wipes and wiped down every nook and cranny of the seat and surrounding area, particularly the tray table, the armrests, the seat belt, and buckle and the window. Think about how many people touch the windows. Then indulged in our hand sanitizer often, particularly after heading back from the lavatory. I even took my disinfecting wipes to the bathroom with me as an extra measure.
Deciding on what products to use!!
I am a big fan of Clorox Wipes or Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and use them around the house and in our camper all the time. I am a bit obsessed with them. Thank goodness. Though trying to find the small packets right now is difficult as most of your favorite online shopping sites are sold out or gauging the price to customers up the wazoo. If you can’t find the smaller travel packs take a good amount out of the larger tubs and put them in Ziploc bags, that will work well too. These disinfectant wipes, if used properly kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.
The recent study stated that “Coronavirus is actually easy to kill, as studies have shown that disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizers can kill bacteria and viruses that are much more difficult to kill than the Coronavirus.” And of course, washing hands frequently and thoroughly.
Again, you must use the products correctly in order for them to be effective and offer the maximum protection. When you board the plane, don’t just do a light once over. Overkill your cleaning efforts and you will kill the germs. The study also showed that the germ-meter score found on tray tables was a whopping 1,688 compared to just 32 in the airplane bathroom. But still, disinfect after every bathroom visit.
When you get to your seat, start with your tray table and take some time on it, then move to the armrests and seatbacks. Take the wipes with you to the bathroom as the latch handles are frequently used and remember 18% don’t even wash their hands.
Sanitize your hands frequently!
The biggest thing to remember and keep on a constant routine to frequently use your hand sanitizer. Avoid shaking hands and always avoid touching your face, mouth, and eyes.
If you chose a window seat clean those windows too! From studies done on airplane travel, the best thing to do is sit next to the window as you will have less of a chance picking up an infection from a fellow passenger as you don’t have people frequently walking by you as you do in an aisle seat.
Making your own Hand Sanitizer from 3 easy ingredients
Take plenty of hand sanitizer with you at all times. Though as we have heard around the world finding hand sanitizer is becoming like looking for a needle in a haystack. Yikes, you are traveling and couldn’t find hand sanitizer anywhere. GoodHousekeeping.com offers a DIY or make it yourself solution using 3 simple ingredients. On their website, they suggest using Vodka, Aloe Vera gel, and essential oils to make your own sanitizing concoction.
On their website, they show a bottle of Tito’s, Aloe Vera gel and Tea Tree essential oil. Though if you can get your hands-on Ethyl alcohol use that. Though it will be much easier to buy a cheap bottle of vodka (the higher the proof the better), that will be just fine too. Save the Tito’s and pour yourself a vodka tonic and get to the creating your homemade hand sanitizer.
- Vodka (a cheap brand is fine, the higher the proof the better)
- Aloe Vera Gel
- Lavender essential oil
- Tea tree essential oil or any oils of your choice
- Small plastic bottles 2oz. Just make sure it is smaller than airplane will allow for carry-on liquids
Fill each bottle with ¼ to 1/3 of the way full of vodka
Add 10 – 15 drops of each tea tree essential oil and lavender essential oil. Both of these essential oils have natural anti-bacterial properties.
Then fill the bottles the rest of the way with aloe Vera gel and shake well.
Now you are ready to go!
Put it in your bag and use it as needed. Also, remember a good handwashing with regular soap and water is always best for killing germs.
Should you wear a Mask?
Quoting a recent article just out by Forbes – “No, you do not need facemasks to prevent Coronavirus – They might increase your infection risk.” Even if there are cases next door, the answer is no, you do NOT need to get or wear face masks – surgical masks, N95 masks, respirator masks or anything else to protect yourself against the Coronavirus.
Not only do you not need them, but you also shouldn’t wear them according to infection specialist Eli Perencevich, MD, professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Iowa’s College of Medicine. If they wear the masks incorrectly, they can increase the risks of infection because they are touching their faces more often.
Only wear a mask if you are sick to keep from infecting others!!
It is best to protect yourself through social distancing. If you see someone coughing or sneezing or looking sick, stay at least three feet away from them since that is as far as most droplets travel.
Here are a few other tips from medical professionals!!!
- NO HANDSHAKING!!! You can use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump if you need to have personal contact. Otherwise, avoid it!
- Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches, door latches, elevator buttons
- Open doors with a closed fist or hip! DO NOT grasp the handle with your hand unless there is absolutely no other way to open the door. And then immediately sanitize your hands or thoroughly wash for at least 20 seconds.
- Wipe off your phone and other surfaces that you touch, your computer, your iPad, etc.
Zinc Lozenges – Cold-Eeze – Zicam
Stock up on these items and travel with them. Zinc lozenges have been proven effective in blocking coronavirus and most other viruses from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times a day whether you are sick or not.
On this upcoming trip, I have plenty of cold ease, Zicam lozenges and Zicam Nasal spray with me. I look like a traveling pharmacy, but better to be prepared than at a loss.
When traveling be sure to take all of your current medications and preventative medications with you, that way you will be sure to have them. Particularly if you are traveling outside of the country where their pharmacies will probably not have the products that you are used to.
When you are at Hotels
Do the same routine as when you boarded the airplane. Wipe down everything in your hotel room that you plan on touching – Door Knobs, light switches, bedside tables, chairs, etc. And definitely don’t drink from the hotel room glasses. Most of the time they are just rinsed out by the cleaning crew and put back on the shelf. Another Yuck! Bring your own water bottle or personal mugs, even bring your own personal metal straws. We are definitely bringing our own. You don’t want to put your mouth on any glass that is in your hotel room.
I just had the chance to interview Tammy Arden – As a World Travel Expert, She Shares Need-to-Know Safety Facts and Strategic, Smart Advice for Travelers.
National TV Travel correspondent, Tammy Levent is the CEO of Elite Travel, an award-winning national travel agency named the fastest-growing and most trusted in the nation and she is also the founder of TASK (The Travel Agent’s Success Kit™) a business that helps struggling travel agencies successfully adapt to this new age of travel.
Here are a few of her important touchpoints!!
- To Cancel or Not To Cancel:
- Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. The decision depends on when and where you are traveling and what your current health condition is. Monitor news updates and travel alerts regularly but be pragmatic and avoid making rash decisions. If your vacation is more than a month away, waiting to cancel may be a strategic move. The epidemic is fluid and changing every day and things may be different in 30 days. You can always change the date for a later time. Although there may be small cancellation penalties, talking to a travel agent can help.
- Need to know health tips for travelers
- I ALWAYS.. ALWAYS, TAKE CLOROX WIPES WITH ME AND WIPE DOWN THE SEAT IN FRONT OF ME HEADREST. THINK OF ALL THOSE WHO PUT THEIR FOREHEADS, HANDS, ETC., I WIPE DOWN THE TRAY, ARMREST, AND SEAT BUCKLE AND BACK HEADREST. BEEN/ SHUT MY VENTILATION OVER MY HEAD. BEEN DOING THIS FOR YEARS. NEVER GET SICK
- Never put your suitcase or purse on your pillow. – Think of all of the places your purse and luggage have been! They touch the bathroom floor, the airport floor, the street, the pavement – yuck.
- No matter when or where you are traveling, one thing is clear: basic hygiene is the best means of prevention. Wash your hands with soap and water several times a day, especially before eating. Avoid touching your face or putting your hands in your mouth.
- Where not to travel
- IF THE CDC OR WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION HAS PUT OUT A DO NOT TRAVEL ELEVATED WARNING THEN DO NOT TRAVEL THERE. IF THEY SAY DO NOT GO TO CHINA OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GO TO CHINA EVEN IF IT MEANS YOUR BUSINESS IS AT RISK IF YOU ARE GOING FOR BUSINESS. YOUR HEALTH IS MORE IMPORTANT. TRAVEL SMART THAN NOT TRAVELING AT ALL
- Insider tips to avoid fees and penalties.
- FIRST BEFORE YOU EVEN BOOK A TRIP EITHER ONLINE OR WITH A TRAVEL PROFESSIONAL MAKE SURE TO ASK ABOUT CANCELLATION POLICIES. WE NEVER BOOK CLIENTS IN NON-REFUNDABLE HOTELS. MOST ONLINE BOOKINGS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE, NEXT GET CANCEL FOR ANY REASON INSURANCE, THIS WILL NOT COVER YOU MEDICALLY IF YOU CANCEL YOUR TRIP 100 PERCENT. BUT YOU CAN CANCEL YOUR TRIP FOR ANY REASON AND GET A FULL REFUND. IF YOU DO ADD THE MEDICAL COVERAGE YOU WILL BE COVERED MEDICALLY AT 100 PERCENT AND CANCEL FOR ANY REASON ADDED AND GET 75 PERCENT BACK OF YOUR MONEY IF YOU CANCEL FOR ANY REASON AND NOT A MEDICAL REASON. WHEN I TRAVEL, I GET CANCEL FOR ANY REASON AND MEDICAL INSURANCE TO COVER ME IF SOMETHING HAPPENS OVERSEAS. ON AVERAGE CANCEL FOR ANY REASON COSTS ABOUT 130 TO 150 PER PERSON.
- NEXT, YOU CANNOT GET ANY FEES WAIVED OR CANCEL FEES UNLESS THE CDC OR WORLD HEALTH SAIS NO TRAVEL THERE, THEN THE AIRLINES, HOTELS ETC. ARE FORCED TO CANCEL AND REFUND YOUR TRIP.
- YOU HAVE PLANNED THIS TRIP BECAUSE YOU WANT TO GO, SO GO. MAYBE YOU WILL HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR TRAVEL PLANS AND GO A LITTLE LATER, IM SURE THAT IT WILL BE ALOT EASIER TO MOVE YOUR TRIP PLANS AND GET WAIVERS FOR MOVING THE DATE OVER THAN WAIVERS FOR A COMPLETE CANCELLATION.
United Kingdom, Italy, Sicily and Dubai Travel I also asked specifically about the destinations I am heading to! Here are some of her thoughts on those regions.
- The UK is very congested, just like NYC so take extra precautions (basic hygiene: carry wet wipes or hand sanitizer, wash your hands, don’t touch your mouth, etc.) and, if possible, avoid big crowds.
- The coronavirus was in Venice…not Rome, Florence, or Sicily. Still, it’s best to avoid big crowds
- TIP: If you do the Vatican, the best time to do it is before or after hours. (They have an early tour/admission around 7:30 am as well as a late one after closing. You have to sign up ahead of time and it costs about 20 dollars more, but it is a good option because it is 100 people or less.)
Safe Travels Everyone – Please be Aware, Be Prepared and Be Safe!