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Preparing to Travel for the Holidays? This Is What You’ll Need

We’re making your pandemic-trip as safe as possible.

Good news for those looking to travel this holiday season—your odds of getting COVID-19 from a plane are lower than that of getting struck by lightning. With mask requirements, improved cleaning protocols, and HEPA filters, flying remains a surprisingly safe way to travel.

Despite the statistics, flying can still feel a bit unnerving. In the midst of a pandemic, it feels odd to leave the house, let alone join 100-plus strangers looking to travel the country. But, with the holidays approaching, many are aching to bite the bullet, hop on a plane, and see the family they’ve been Zooming with since March. And, while the odds are in your favor, that doesn’t mean extra precautions shouldn’t be taken. For an added sense of security, we’re helping you plan for a COVID-free holiday using these tools for safe travel.

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Hand Sanitizer

Let’s go ahead and get the obvious supplies out of the way. Hand sanitizer remains effective and is something that you’ll want to kill germs and give you peace of mind. While airports tend to have hand sanitizer stations located throughout every terminal, that won’t be the case once onboard the plane. Forgot about the pandemic and decided to touch the seat tray or accidentally rubbed shoulders with your seatmate while preparing for take-off? Good thing your bag is stocked with 60% or more alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Earth to Skin is fully stocked at Walmart and well-priced–a pleasant surprise given March’s mad-dash to stock up and resell. It also comes in a variety of scents, including Blueberry, Lemon Basil, and Coconut Aloe (for those who can’t take any more of the Tequila scent).  

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There are many benefits to wearing gloves—like no germs touching your hands. But the less-obvious benefit is that it might make you think twice before touching your face. After one face-touch of unexpected latex on skin, you’ll think before reaching up to rub your eye or scratch your nose again. While wearing a mask and carrying hand sanitizer might be easily carried out, ridding yourself of any face-touching habits isn’t quite as simple. So, allow un-comfy gloves to make you all the more aware.

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The Right Mask

A while back a video floated around the internet of ways to test the effectiveness of a mask—the easiest being to see if you can blow out a candle. If you can, it’s not protecting you, or others, from much. Before boarding your flight, make sure your mask is effective—this article details what to look for in each type of mask. You can’t control if the person next to you will be wearing a gator (have they avoided news and social media for the past two months?), but you can control how protective your mask is from outside sources.

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Depending on which airlines you fly, you might be handed a wipe as you enter the plane, giving you the chance to do one extra wipe down. But you also might not—and the plane won’t be the only place you’ll need it. Yes, wipe down your seat and tray table once you get on the plane, but also think of the seats at your gate and the suitcase that was just looked through by TSA. There’s a good chance you’ll want more than just one small wipe to last you your entire trip, which might include layovers and transfers.

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Extra Socks

Onto the less obvious. When going through security you’ll be asked to remove your shoes before walking through TSA’s metal detector (not all of us have TSA pre-check, OK?). This means sock on floor contact, or, if you happened to wear a pair of sandals, direct foot on floor action. I’m getting sick thinking about it. To avoid a situation where you have to walk through TSA barefoot or leave with an infected pair of socks, make sure to pack an extra in your bag. If you wore a separate pair of socks through, discard them in a Ziplock bag (don’t forget to bring a Ziplock bad or two) to be washed on your return home. This might seem extreme (and might be totally unnecessary), but sometimes it’s all about the feeling of being OK.

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The key to making this trip all the safer is limiting contact with anyone you don’t need to be in contact with. Sure, you can’t control that the seat next to you is taken, but you can avoid things like the food court. This is an area where people are permitted to be mask-less inside because, when traveling all day, you might need to eat something. It’s also an area though, where people who don’t love masks go to hang out over a shared tray of fries they somehow “eat” for an hour-and-a-half. This is all to say, it’s busy and best to be avoided. By packing your own, small snacks, you can find yourself an empty corner of the airport to enjoy a bite before getting on your plane. Even better, if the snacks are bite-sized—think trail mix or berries—you can easily slip a bite up your mask without actually removing it. And the best perk? No one else handled it.

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Water Bottle

Similar to snacks, pack your own, reusable water bottle to avoid the crowd that is the one open store. For starters, a bottle of Dasani somehow costs $5 at the airport, but on top of that (and probably more importantly), we’re limiting contact. Water bottle refill stations allow for contactless filling—simply place the bottle under the fountain and watch it go. No frantic Google search for, “Can COVID be spread by a water fountain?” here.

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A Carry On

To each their own, but when I travel home for the holidays, I’m trying to ensure my bag passes through as few hands as possible. For those going home for an extended period of time, planning for just a carry-on might not be possible, but for those visiting relatives for a week or less—it’s cramming time. A carry on will touch your hands, possibly someone at TSA’s, and the other two bags that fit in the overhead compartment above you. When you check it, well it goes through check-in’s hands, those of whoever is loading and unloading the plane, and then it sits on the conveyer belt with everyone else’s (possible germ-infested) bags.