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How Seniors Can Travel Safely During Covid

If you've been itching to get out of the house or head out for a long weekend with the family there's preventative measures you should take before hitting the road.

With Covid-19 showing no sign of slowing down in the U.S., many people are wondering when they can go back to their normal lives and do some of the things they used to do in the pre-pandemic world, like traveling. Whether you need to go out of town to see family or you just want to get away for a few days, it’s important to take precautions and understand the way of traveling has changed for the foreseeable future and there are risks involved. 

Keep in mind the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) emphasizes that no form of travel is completely safe: “We don’t know if one type of travel is safer than others; however, airports, bus stations, train stations and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces.” 

The CDC recommends following these steps to protect yourself and others when you travel:

  • Maintain a distance of 6 feet (2 meters) between you and others as much as possible.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick
  • Limit contact with frequently touched surfaces, such as handrails, elevator buttons and kiosks. If you must touch these surfaces, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands afterward.
  • Wear a cloth face mask.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean your hands often. It’s especially important after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they feel dry.

Aside from following the CDC’s travel recommendations let’s take a look at some extra tips on how seniors can stay safe when they’re on the road.

Plan ahead

Think about all the factors of the trip you want to take. Will you be flying or driving? What are the risks associated with both options? How will you handle stops along the way? Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses don’t spread easily on flights. However, crowded flights make social distancing difficult. These are all things to think about. 

If you’re road tripping make sure to wear your mask if you’re stopping for gas, bring plenty of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes, and opt to bring your own food and water on the road so you can limit the amount of places you stop. If you choose to pick up a meal on the road, opt for restaurants that offer drive-thru or curbside service.

Consider your risk factors

Every region has its own set of rules and regulations during the pandemic and countries still have travel bans in place while others require a 14-day self-quarantine before and/or after travel. How’s your health and the health of the people you’d be traveling with? Do you or someone you’re traveling with fall into the category of high-risk (meaning you’re a senior citizen, have underlying health conditions, etc)? What are the current Covid-19 numbers at the destination you’re going to? Have they been going down or have they recently seen a spike? These are all things to consider before booking your trip. 

Using other ground transportation

According to the Mayo Clinic, “if you travel by bus or train, be aware that sitting or standing within 6 feet (2 meters) of others for a prolonged period can put you at higher risk of getting or spreading the coronavirus. If you plan to use a ride-hailing service, don’t sit in the front seat near the driver. Consider handling your own bags during pickup and drop-off. Avoid coming into contact with frequently touched surfaces before cleaning them. If you’ll be using public transportation, maintain social distancing, wear a mask, and use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after reaching your destination.”

Stay informed on the latest Covid-19 updates

The U.S. State Department website issues advisories and reports on safety conditions for traveling domestically and internationally and you should also read up on the latest travel health notices and COVID-19 travel recommendations via the CDC. With Covid-19’s rapidly changing environment it’s important to stay up to date on all travel related notices before and during your trip away from home. 

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