by Mac Candee
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Posted: Thursday, December 3, 2020

Traveling during the pandemic can be a very controversial endeavor. Personally, I can’t tell you whether I recommend it or not, because it’s an individual decision to make. A big factor for me is which country you’re living in. As a US citizen, the cases are really high, which has put me in an interesting position. It made me evaluate whether it’s safer to go to the grocery store in the USA, or to opt for traveling somewhere where there aren’t that many people infected. When you think about it, if you know that your destination country has handled the pandemic better than the US, you are probably in a better position living there for a while. Does this make it the better choice? Well, it might.

I can tell you about my experience living in Tulum, Mexico for one month. The health standards for the majority of the places there were fantastic. At almost every restaurant, both local and bigger chain, they did a temperature check, made sure everyone was using hand sanitizer and wore a mask. Another innovative thing they did was that they gave the customers a QR code with the digital menu, instead of the printed-out version. All these extra steps ensured safety, and helped against the spread of COVID-19. When I compare these standards to the USA, there is a lot of room for improvement back home. Of course, this varies vastly state by state, but where I am situated in Wisconsin, they don’t always even require you to wear a mask when you enter a restaurant. This led to my biggest concern after coming back from Tulum being the possibility of getting COVID-19 because of the lacking safety procedures. And guess what, I got it when I came back to Wisconsin!

That’s why I want to leave the decision of whether to travel entirely up to you. I strongly advise you to consider your options carefully and keep yourself and others safe, no matter what you choose. But in case you’d opt for traveling, I want to share my 5 tips for doing so in these confusing times. They have helped me feel more protected and have allowed me to have an overall better travel experience.

1. Always wear a mask in public places

This is very important, because it greatly reduces your risk of any health hazards. Public places, including airports, can be very dangerous in this regard, so it’s crucial that you take all necessary precautions to protect yourself. This is a requirement in all airports by all airlines, so it’s highly unlikely that you will get away with traveling mask-free. But this is all done for a reason. Airlines have actually done the research, and concluded that if you follow their guidelines, you are more likely to get struck by lightning, than to catch COVID-19 from flying. This goes to show just how much of their time, resources and money airlines are investing into providing the safest environment possible and mitigating the risk.

2. Bring hand sanitizer

I would advise you to opt for a small 3 ounce or less bottle. This makes it easy to take in an airport, and will ensure that you always have a way to keep clean. Don’t put it in your checked bag, because it’s important to always have it on hand when you need it. There are so many things we touch every day that we don’t even realize. Some of those are unsanitary, and you want to make sure you don’t let that increase your risk of becoming ill. Something that I found out a few years ago is that the bins that go through the security check are dirtier than the airport bathrooms…think about that for a second.

3. Get consistent COVID-19 tests

Whenever I travel to and from a new place, I make sure to get a COVID test. If you are experiencing any symptoms at all, definitely do not travel. Always make sure you get tested to have the full picture and make an informed decision. The rapid test is faster, but can sometimes yield a false result, while the PCR is a lot more reliable, but takes 2-5 days. If we take the context of the pandemic out, flying while sick with any illness is still a very bad idea, so be informed about your health. Another factor is that many people can experience the virus asymptomatically, which easily leads to spreading the disease. Try to be conscious of the surrounding people, and do this step as to not put anyone in danger.

4. Keep your distance

The thing is, masks help a lot, but they are not perfect. There are very few masks that offer complete filtration of the incoming air, the other ones just aren’t going to be enough by themselves. That’s why it’s important to take additional precautions. Keeping your distance adds another layer of safety, and will greatly increase your chances of not being in contact with contamination. It will also give you the piece of mind, and it’s a very easy step to take.

5. Avoid crowds and people

This goes hand in hand with the previous point, but opting out of huge public spaces with too many people greatly decreases your risk of catching the virus as well. As fun as that shoulder-to-shoulder bar seems, it’s not worth it if it means you’re going to have to deal with a scary illness. Be wary of your choices and how you spend your time, because sometimes it’s better to think outside the box, if it means staying safe. Even if you can’t do the things you enjoy most, there are many other opportunities, some of which you might have not even considered yet. You would be surprised at just how fun things that you’ve never done before can be

Closing Thoughts

I want to point out that the reason behind this blog post is not to convince you to travel, but instead to give you more information and ensure that you’re not endangering yourself or others. My experience is that depending on your country of residence and how it’s handling the pandemic, it could be safer to go do a different destination, but that’s not always the case. I don’t want to advise you on what choice to make, instead I want you to know what precautions will help you have a more secure experience. I hope they are useful to you, and if you have any questions or comments on the topic, I would love to hear them!

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