Many states, as well as countries, are starting to lift stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, opening things back up doesn’t mean that the virus is gone or has stopped spreading altogether. It just means people have a better understanding of how to protect themselves from the coronavirus. Whether you’re traveling across the country by plane, train, or car, or going to work using the subway or another form of public transportation, there are steps you need to take to stay safe and keep your family safe.
Safety First with Hand Sanitizer
You probably hear everyone saying it now: Don’t touch your face. You have what experts refer to as the T-Zone on your face that includes the eyes, nose, and mouth. This area is where your body’s mucous membranes are most exposed to infection. Studies have shown that everyone touches their face all the time. Each report varies between 15 to 23 times per hour depending on the person’s age and sometimes what activity they are doing, such as working or sitting in a class lecture. The facial areas that saw the most touching were the mouth and cheek, with the longest duration occurring around the ears and neck.
While strict training can reduce how often you touch your face, it’s not going to happen fast enough to lower your risk of infection from the highly contagious COVID-19. The studies also show that most of these movements were related to stress and used as a coping mechanism. Again, there are ways to retrain the mind and body to find healthier ways to relieve stress, given the stressfulness of the situation, that’s most likely not going to work, especially if you’re out and about traveling under these new conditions.
When You Can’t Wash Your Hands
Let’s face it. You won’t be able to wash your hands with antibacterial soap and clean, running water every time you touch an unknown surface while traveling. You may want to trust that each location you visit, whether it’s a shopping center, the airport terminal, a restaurant, or a hotel lobby, is safe. But, the truth is you can’t at this point. So, the best way to stay safe is with a quality hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. On the other hand, don’t skip the soap and water as soon as you have the chance. Hand sanitizers will kill viruses, but they don’t remove all the dirt and potential contaminants you can touch throughout the day.
Hand Sanitizer for Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Right now, one of the most important places to use hand sanitizer is when you’re traveling on public transportation systems. Whether it’s a commercial airliner for a business trip or local MTA busses, trams, and subway cars, the fastest way to kill any contagions on your hands is with hand sanitizer. Yes, you can wear gloves. However, research (and several pictures and memes found online) show that people don’t stop touching their face when they’re wearing gloves. In fact, many experts warn against gloves for people traveling because it could promote a false sense of security.
Dining in, Dining Out
If you’re heading to a local restaurant, don’t forget your hand sanitizer. While you can sneak away to the bathroom to wash your hands, there are too many situations where you may touch your face. The easiest way to spread COVID-19 is by touching a contaminated surface and then placing your hand or fingers in your mouth or even rubbing your eyes. Plus, everyone here is putting their hands on everything. Think about it, from opening the door, sitting down, holding the menu, and even handling payments and tips. You don’t want to run to the bathroom that many times, not to mention, it’s not very logical. Instead, keep a travel-size container of hand sanitizer nearby for a quick spritz.
Hotels, Motels, and Other Sleeping Arrangements
Hotels already clean everything between guests, and most are stepping up practices to ensure your safety. However, still keep some hand sanitizer for interactions in the lobby and elevator rides. Use something else to touch the elevator’s buttons or use the hand sanitizer right after if you forget.
It’s understandable if you’re feeling a little concerned about traveling again or if your family is a little antsy about you leaving. But if you follow the safety protocol, put in place by each area you’re visiting, such as masks and social-distancing requirements, you’re doing everything you can to safeguard yourself, your family, and meet your work or business responsibilities.