Travel Smart, Travel Safe
Planning a vacation is one of the most exciting and rewarding times for just about everybody. After working and saving for months and sometimes years, the prospects of a new adventure or relaxing getaway can be one of the most highly anticipated experiences of our lives. But things have changed! Along with the normal safety measures we employ when we travel, will come a series of precautions devised to keep us safe from germs—viruses and bacteria that can make us sick.
As businesses continue to open following the coronavirus shutdown, the process of returning to some sense of normalcy could be slow. It is uncharted territory and there might be delays, unexpected obstacles and surprises along the way. We just don’t know what to expect. In this article, we apply a little common knowledge and a touch of speculation to anticipate how travel will change from what we’ve become accustomed to in years past.
Illness and Travel: The Lifestyle Impact
At the time of this writing, most countries have closed their borders to international travel. As the virus continues to dissipate, more countries will begin to ease up on border restrictions, and the development of a vaccine may help advance this process. However, even as travel limitations are lifted, the practice of traveling on airlines, cruise ships, trains and other local forms of transportation are different. On-boarding and off-boarding are conducted in a more time-consuming manner, especially when bio-metric screening, such as body temperature scanning, is conducted before boarding. Passengers are frequently required to wear protective masks and sit in seats separated from other passengers by 6 feet or more.
Sanitation throughout the entire process will be a top priority. Disinfecting surfaces such as tray tables, arm rests, window shades and door handles will be done multiple times every day especially during long excursions. Disinfectant wipes will be distributed to passengers at the beginning and end of every trip. Passengers will be encouraged to wash hands thoroughly when using restrooms, and to cover coughs and sneezes with their masks or with tissues.
Crowds Are to Be Avoided
Crowding at airports and other kinds of terminals, such as occurs during holiday travel, are vigorously discouraged if not overtly precluded by security gates and barriers. Getting through customs and TSA screenings can create even greater delays than you have been accustomed to.
Tourist destinations where crowds frequently gather, such as beaches, sporting events, concerts and theatrical performances or urban tourist zones like Times Square are often subject to reduced occupancy. Much of this reduction is naturally occurring by people voluntarily opting to stay away from crowded areas. Still, crowd control measures will be in effect when necessary.
The Impact on Business
Many small businesses have been irreparably affected forcing closures from which they cannot recover. Bigger businesses have suffered severe financial losses but may be able to climb back slowly to levels of profitability. Travel related businesses have been particularly harmed.
The restaurant business is one that has been affected severely and could continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Dining tables have to be situated with more space between them reducing the number of customers a restaurant can serve at one time. This can also create long wait times for patrons—reservations might not be available for days. Such scheduling discrepancies could put some challenges into vacation planning.
People might choose to stay in hotel suites that have kitchens where they can prepare most of their own meals and make a few restaurant reservations if they can get them. Restaurants might also enhance their delivery business with specially designed tourist packages delivered straight to hotel rooms—that is unless the hotels refuse to tolerate the competition with their room service amenities. In that case, room service at hotels should see a considerable surge as well.
When you walk into your hotel to check into your room, the smile you’re expecting from the front desk clerk might be hiding behind a mask, but the welcome will be just as warm. For hotels, it is not business as usual. Sanitation has become a huge selling point for hotel marketers. Advertising and marketing literature tout the exceptionally advanced process that each room undergos between guest visits. And, it's not just hype! Rooms have to be disinfected from top to bottom. Comprehensive cleaning procedures include disinfectant sprays applied to every curtain, carpet and upholstered furniture. Hard surfaces, including desks, chairs, tables, bathroom fixtures and floors must be wiped down or mopped with disinfectant solutions, and everything should be marked with a “Perfectly Sanitized” tag to help ensure the comfort of new guests.
Daily maid service has seen some changes too. Some guests might not feel comfortable with a stranger entering their room where their personal belongings are exposed. Hotels might offer guests an option to forego maid service during their stay and choose instead to do some light cleaning themselves. In such cases, rooms might be equipped with sanitizer sprays, cleaning cloths, sponges, and perhaps a lightweight vacuum cleaner.
New studies have suggested that higher levels of humidity may help in preventing the spread of germs. A quick search on the internet will reveal a compilation of articles discussing this theory and the studies associated with it. To give themselves a perceived advantage in avoiding the virus, travelers might bring along portable, lightweight humidifiers that can be used in hotel rooms.
For example, Conair® offers a travel humidifier that’s as portable as they come. The Travel Smart® by Conair Travel Humidifier is USB powered and slips into a standard sized water bottle. It comes with 2 moisture wicks, a travel pouch and provides 5 hours of mist time. It also functions as a nightlight.
Trains, planes, boats, and automobiles, by their very nature, are relatively small and enclosed spaces placing fellow travelers in close proximity to each other. Therefore, transportation companies have to establish safe distancing procedures to reduce the number of passengers onboard. It is highly probable that wearing masks will be encouraged or enforced depending on the rules established by the particular carrier.
A practice that might become commonplace at airports and other terminals is bio-metric screening. This can include facial scanning to verify a traveler’s identity. Sometimes even fingerprints can be taken. Now, to help prevent the spread of various illnesses, non-contact temperature screenings may be required. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established standards to help identify sick or potentially infectious travelers. You can review these specifications on the CDC website1.
Again, sanitation is a primary concern. Between every trip, the inside of the vehicle has to be completely disinfected by a crew of individuals equipped to do the job quickly but thoroughly. Passengers might want to bring their own supply of disinfecting wipes and solutions for extra precaution. However, for airline travel, bottles containing liquids are strictly regulated to containers that are 3.4 ounces or less. Hand sanitizers and other disinfecting solutions must be in small bottles to pass through TSA screening, and sometimes finding these miniature containers can be a challenge.
Conair® offers a variety of travel accessories to solve the problem. For example, the Travel Smart® by Conair 3 -Ounce Travel Bottle Set features 3 TSA compliant 3-ounce bottles made of squeezable thermal plastic that’s resistant to cracking when exposed to extreme temperatures. They have flip-top lids and fit together in a quart-sized, see-through pouch to help you get through airport screening quickly. Fill them with shampoo, conditioner, lotion, gel, hand sanitizer or disinfecting solution.
Another option is the Travel Smart® by Conair 13-Piece Travel Kit. This collection of travel bottles contains a variety of shapes and sizes that can hold and seal your liquids for international flights. From a spray bottle to cream jars, this travel kit enables your hair products, skin cream, sanitizers and other personal care items to be safely stored and dispensed on both sides of customs.
As long as viruses continue to pose a formidable threat, frequent business travelers may continue to curtail trips by using digital conferencing apps on mobile phones and computers. At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic users of these programs found them to be a functional and effective method of conducting meetings with people all over the world. Such use, which has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic, also cuts down on travel expenses for companies.
Shorter Trips and Staycations
While cumbersome restrictions remain in place for international travel, vacation lovers may start to establish some new trends. The Staycation might become something akin to a cottage industry of sorts. Creating stay-at-home adventures and taking shorter, domestic trips by car might be the better alternative to dealing with airport screenings, long delays and sanitation risks.
For families with kids, amusement parks might see a significant rise in attendance. Ride attendants will be stationed with spray bottles and cloths to disinfect each seat and safety rail as riders embark and disembark from each attraction. This will slow down the pace of operation for amusement parks both large and small, and potentially limit general admissions to maintain social distancing and prevent long wait times, which can be excessively long even under normal conditions.
Depending on where you live, road trips to various domestic tourist sites could become quite popular. Touring the monuments in Washington D.C., spending a day at the Grand Canyon, dodging the spray at Niagara Falls, or standing in the shadows of Mount Rushmore could satisfy the vacation hungry tourist seeking for a getaway. If you live close enough, such adventures can be day trips, but even a short domestic flight and a one or two night stay in a hotel could be preferable to an overseas cruise or European tour, at least for the time being. Perhaps train travel will see an uptick in popularity.
To help make long trips by car more comfortable, a few simple amenities can make a big difference. For example, pillows and neck rests specially designed for travel can make sleeping in an upright position a lot more bearable. Travel Smart® by Conair makes a variety of travel pillows and neck rests, some are inflatable and fold-up for packing. Others are filled with soft, shape conforming materials such as memory foam, microbeads and fiberfill. There are even suitably sized neck pillows for toddlers and kids.
Virtual Travel Experiences
Another alternative, albeit one that might leave some true explorers a little unenthusiastic, is the virtual travel experience. Legendary travel publishers have commissioned the world’s finest photographers, videographers and cinematographers to capture the most spectacular and breathtaking sites on planet earth for viewing in the comfort of your own home with theatrical quality surround sound. If you happen to have high quality audio-visual equipment in your home such as a home theater system, these virtual trips can be surprisingly enriching and entertaining. Even on a standard high definition TV, the experience can be impressive. Don’t turn up your nose until you’ve had the chance to try it.
Safety Tips When Traveling
If you’re willing to venture out while a virus is still considered a risk factor for travelers, there are some steps you can take to make your trip as safe as possible. First, be conscious of your hands and what you touch. Don’t be afraid to wash your hands at every opportunity—you can’t overdo it. Carry some moisturizing lotion to prevent dry skin and chaffing. You can also wear latex or nitrile gloves that can be sanitized periodically with hand sanitizer or simply tossed into the trash. Avoid touching your face as much as you can. A clean, sanitized paper or plastic straw can be handy to deal with itches which are bound to come especially when you are trying not to touch your face. Just don’t put the straw down on a surface or let it touch anything else. Slip it into a clean plastic bag after every use.
Just how much protection a mask gives you for germ infection is unclear, however, there is widespread consensus that masks provide some protection for those who either have the virus and want to prevent spreading it or those who are healthy and want to avoid airborne particles that might contain the virus. Regardless, masks will be required in certain environments while traveling. Disposable masks are widely available at stores and online. Having a few non-disposable ones can save you money.
Conair® has a collection of non-disposable masks in development that are comfortable around the ears and come in a variety of colors and stylish patterns. They are machine and hand washable or they can be sanitized using a UV Light Box. They will be available soon. Check the Conair website frequently for updates.
Carry hand sanitizer everywhere you go and use it regularly. Many different brands are available with alcohol and without. Some are mixed with aloe vera gel and others are vegan. There are even recipes online to make your own. Just remember, for air travel, sanitizers must be stored in containers that hold less than 3.4 ounces.
Disinfectant wipes are also great to take along on trips. If you are unsure of the cleanliness of a surface you have to touch, such as a tray table, door handle or armrest, take matters into your own hands and wipe it down.
When traveling, you’ll often carry some small items that can become contaminated and are not easily cleaned with soap and water. Ultraviolet (UV) sanitation devices are becoming more popular to address this problem. Recent studies suggest that there is evidence that UV radiation can damage the amino acid and protein layers that protect viruses.
Conair® is developing a UV Light Box large enough to hold cell phones, masks, glasses, jewelry, wallets and other small objects. It uses multiple UVC LED lights to kill germs and is USB powered. It can sanitize objects in about 3 minutes. A flashing on/off button indicates when the sanitation process is finished. It will be available soon. Check the Conair website frequently for updates.
To reduce or eliminate physical contact with surfaces exposed to the public, such as door handles, ATMs, gas pumps, and elevators, manufacturers are developing touchless products that enable you to open doors and push buttons making no contact with your hands.
Some products use a Bluetooth® signal from a key fob or plastic card to unlock doors or make payments at stores and kiosks. Other products are voice activated or motion controlled, such as a toilet that flushes after you step away from it. Keyring tools coated with antimicrobial metals such as copper or brass will enable you to pull open some types of doors, and press buttons in an elevator or at an ATM. One company has even created a tool that lets you open a common round doorknob using your elbow.
Isolating Contaminated Items
One last suggestion that’s very easy to implement in your travel safety protocol is a simple cloth travel bag. As you journey from place to place, some items that you carry may become contaminated from contact with suspicious surfaces or excessive use. These items, such as non-disposable masks, gloves, and items of clothing can be isolated from other items in your luggage by placing them in a travel bag for later sanitation.
Take a look at the Travel Smart® by Conair Water-Resistant Drawstring Bags. They come in 3 sizes, small, medium and large, and are made from a water-resistant fabric. The drawstring pulls tight for secure transport and they are machine washable. You’ll find them perfect for isolating dirty laundry and other items that need to be sanitized.
A great way to save space in your suitcases is to take advantage of the new Travel Smart® Packing Cubes soon to be made available in retail stores and online. With these you can compartmentalize items of similar size. It’s like having small drawers to help organize your luggage. They have mesh tops that make it easy to identify what’s inside, and they come in small, medium and large sizes.
Be Safe and Secure When You Travel
You really can’t be too careful when it comes to protecting your health and staying safe especially when traveling to unfamiliar places. You owe it to yourself, your family and friends to make sure every precaution is taken to avoid infection and contamination from germs. Conair is committed to help you stay safe with innovative products you’ll find in your favorite retail stores and online at Conair.com. Keep an eye open for the Travel Smart® by Conair logo when you shop, and visit our website to discover our complete line of products to enhance your lifestyle. Be well!