With the worldwide Coronavirus outbreak happening right as many families have planned their Spring Break and summer vacations, many family travelers are faced with the question of whether or not to cancel that long-awaited family vacation.
Ultimately, only you can decide if you need to stay home or avoid all nonessential travel. But if you do decide to travel and need some tips on how to best travel with kids in the face of the Coronoavrius outbreak, I have some tips for you.
I am very lucky to have an industrial hygiene expert in my life- and she’s got lots of access to very good worldwide info regarding travel and outbreaks. I had a chance to sit down with her this morning and pick her brain on what precautions families can take when traveling with Coronavirus, and I wanted to pass along her expert advice with you.
When packing and considering COVID-19, it’s important to make sure you pack items that you would need in order to stay healthy, in case you get sick, and in case you get quarantined (like that cruise ship). Travel means being in close contact with potentially sick people, so it’s important to be prepared. I’ll go through each consideration below.
March 11, 2020 Update: Many experts are urging people with non-essential travel to cancel their trips. If you need to travel- these are tips that can help you do so safely.
Related article: Preparing Your Home for Coronavirus
Coronavirus Packing Tips
You need to pack assuming that the items you need to stay healthy are not going to be available. To that end- make sure you pack the following for each person in your family, preferably in your carry-on luggage:
- Disinfectant wipes and spray
- alcohol-based hand sanitizer- at least 60% alcohol
- Hand soap
- Reusable masks**
- Zinc lozenges
- A thermometer that goes under the tongue
- Any medicines you would want to have with you if you were to contract the virus. The CDC recommends you check the symptoms here. (For me, this would mean Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Melatonin to help me sleep, Nuun vitamins, Pedialyte in powdered form and cough medicine.)
**Note on masks: Please don’t’ hoard the medical-grade masks if you are not in need- our vulnerable populations and medical professionals need those masks. I highly recommend making these cute DIY reusable face masks– or hiring someone to do so.
Effectiveness of masks vary depending on the type and if you are wearing it correctly. We also know that people (especially children) tend to touch their faces much more frequently when wearing a mask. Take a look at these resources from NPR on the usage of face masks.
Related article: Information on Coronavirus from a biology teacher mom and virology professor dad- who happen to be married.
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Coronavirus Travel Tips
- TSA is where you will most likely have the most contact with viruses. The areas are just not cleaned as frequently since they are in such heavy use, and because so many people go through them so fast. After passing through TSA, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you exit the area. Disinfect anything you feel isn’t clean- this is where the spray might come in handy.
- Place a zinc lozenge under your tongue when boarding the plane. Zinc may stop virus from lodging in your throat, and when entering a new area this can be important.
- When you arrive at your seat on the airplane, use your disinfecting wipes to thoroughly wipe down your seat and the rest of the area where you are sitting. You may also decide to spray the area where you are sitting.
- If you are sitting next to someone who has persistent cough or sneeze, wear your face mask.
- Make sure to check the State Department for travel advice, as well as the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control on world health.
- Talk to your kids about the Coronavirus. Here is a great infographic for kids about the Coronavirus.
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COVID-19 Quarantine Tips
You might be quarantined (for 14 days or more in some cases like in Italy and South Korea) if you have been exposed to the virus. You also might contract COVID-19 when you are away from home if you choose to travel. To that end, here are a few tips:
- Have your own thermometer with you. You may need to see a doctor in a different place, or in a public clinic, and you never really know if the thermometers have been carefully washed. You wouldn’t want to contract the virus through a thermometer, so make sure to have your own. You also may be in a situation where only healthy people can leave a quarantine, and if you can prove you don’t have something like fever, cough, etc you may be released.
- Make sure you have enough of your prescription medications for up to 90 days in case you are quarantined for a long period of time and are unable to access your medication. Women, this means to take extra birth control too!
- You may want to consider packing some extra non-perishable snacks and a reusable water bottle with a filter. I like this LifeStraw filtered water bottle.
Special Considerations for Women
Make sure to carry extra menstrual supplies with you in case of a quarantine situation. You don’t know if you will have access, or if you will have access to the type of pads or tampons you prefer. Plus, they might be really expensive.
Again- don’t forget to travel with extra birth control if you take it daily. In a quarantine situation, you don’t want to inadvertently go off birth control.
Finally- as you plan vacations in the future, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance and trip cancellation policies. Everyone’s level of comfort when traveling is different, but it is always nice to have to option to cancel plans if you don’t feel good about the trip.
I use World Nomads trip insurance when I do purchase and I think they have good plans.
I also book Southwest Airlines whenever possible because of its generous cancellation policy. Other airlines and some cruise lines are waiving change fees so definitely call before you assume you can’t change your trip.
Disclaimer: I am not a health professional-just a mom who loves to travel, stay healthy and share good info. This post should not be interpreted in any way as medical advice- if you have questions about your health please contact your medical professional.
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