The travel industry took a huge hit during the pandemic. Reports show that the number of flights dropped from 40.3 million to 23.1 million after COVID-19 swept the world this year, and many countries closed their borders. Forbes reported that the tourism industry is set to lose 1 trillion dollars and 100 million jobs due to the crisis. There’s no denying that the travel industry has taken a turn for the worst—and with good reason. Traveling for leisure is not a luxury the world can afford right now, and while it’s terrible for people who have lost their jobs, it’s also understandable if we want to keep the number of infections low.
Travel rules and guidelines vary from country to country, and whatever your reason for traveling is, you need to do your part in reducing infections. Here are some tips and pointers for being a responsible traveler in the time of COVID-19.
Before you leave
- Look up your destination’s health and travel guidelines and make a resolution to abide by them.
- Monitor your health, or have yourself checked for COVID-19. If you have a fever or dry cough, consider postponing your trip and self-isolate for 14 days until you’re sure you don’t have the virus or until you feel better.
- Get updated on your vaccinations. Even though there’s no COVID-19 vaccine yet, you would benefit from getting a flu shot to help boost your immune system.
- Schedule your itinerary based on the country or state’s local quarantine measures. If they require you to quarantine for 14 days, then do so. Work your schedule around the required quarantine period.
On the way
- Always wear your face mask. Some airports in many parts of the world have a no-mask no-entry policy, and some even require the use of face shields.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, but if you have no access to a sink, make sure you have an alcohol-based sanitizer on your carry-on. Make sure the alcohol content is at least 70%.
- Avoid touching your face and high-touch surfaces like doorknobs and steel bars. If you must touch high-touch surfaces, make sure to rub your hands with sanitizer right after.
- Follow the instructions of the airport staff and flight attendants. Their jobs are hard enough already; the last thing travelers need to do is add to their stress.
- Make sure to practice physical distancing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends keeping a distance of at least six feet from other people. Try to avoid crowded areas as much as you can. With many travel bans still in place, that shouldn’t be too hard to do.
During your visit
- When you get to your hotel or accommodation, wipe down your carry-on, luggage, smartphone, tablet, and everything else that touched public surfaces. Change your clothes and take a thorough shower.
- Follow the country or state’s laws and guidelines regarding the pandemic. Mask-wearing has been politicized in America, but not in many parts of the world. Wear your mask at all times, and bring extra masks with you in case something happens to your current one.
- Respect local quarantine health guidelines and measures. If you know you’re supposed to be in quarantine, then don’t leave your hotel room or accommodation, and don’t entertain guests either.
- Familiarize yourself with the neighborhood—know where the nearest grocery store, emergency unit, and police station are located.
- Check your temperature regularly.
- If you must tour, do so responsibly. Avoid crowded areas like theme parks or indoor activities like museums.
- Stay updated on news and guidelines from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Keep track of the people you will meet and spend time with—you might need it for contact tracing.
When you get home
- Self-isolate again for 14 days, even when you don’t have any symptoms. We already know COVID-19 can be infectious even during the incubation period, so keep your friends, family, and loved ones safe by ensuring you don’t have the virus before you meet up with them again. You never know what you could have contracted in the airport or during your time overseas or in a different state.
Do Your Part
Being a responsible traveler is not about having your rights and freedoms infringed on; it’s about doing your part in making sure the virus is contained. Since the first cases were announced, more than 1 million people all over the world have died. Those are somebody’s mother, father, child, sister, brother, friend, and spouse—people whose deaths could have been prevented. If our being careful and responsible spares even at least one person’s life, then it’s all worth it.