The coronavirus outbreak has swept almost every country in the world, changing the way people live their lives. Businesses have adopted work-from-home arrangements. Students filled up online learning rooms.
Truth be told, the pandemic’s impact isn’t only in the now. As a massive global event, it will affect even the future, more so in how people travel. Since the virus reached different parts of the world precisely through movements of people, travelers will take more health and safety precautions in their next trips. You may not have changed travel goals at all, yet you would want to know how to travel safely once the travel bans are lifted and city borders open again.
The good news is, it is indeed possible to have an infection-free and stress-free travel 2020. Here are some tips you should consider:
Safety Tips to Consider Before Traveling
1. Get vaccinated
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Prevention is better than cure— that’s the mantra for safe travels.
When you’re vaccinated, you’re less likely to catch particular diseases in the places you’ll visit. The vaccinations your doctor will give will depend on different factors, from the immunization you already have, the place you’re visiting, the duration of the trip, and your medical history.
Remember that vaccinations are not only for adventure travelers. Even if you’re only going to Boracay to de-stress, immunization is necessary, precisely because viruses don't know borders, and that diseases can occur almost anywhere.
2. Pack an emergency medical kit.
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The last thing you need on a trip is scrambling for an open drugstore in the middle of the night just to get the medicines you need. Pack your health kit yourself. Below is a list of some essentials for safe travels:
- Maintenance medicines or the ones you take regularly;
- Aspirin, ibuprofen, or paracetamol for fever and headaches;
- Antihistamines for allergies;
- Adhesive bandages for little cuts and bruises;
- Antiseptic solution for cleaning wounds;
- Insect repellent to keep mosquito bites away;
- Medicines for the common cold, diarrhea, coughs, runny nose, dysmenorrhea;
- A battery-operated thermometer to check your temperature; and
- Regular multi-vitamins to keep you healthy.
- Self-medication is not advisable. If you can, seek the help of your doctor before packing up medicine for a trip.
Also some countries don’t allow some types of medicine, so make sure to double-check on that as well.
If you have any ailments that require those types of medicines, ask your doctor for an official prescription and bring it with you when your travel. You can show it to the immigration officer, or if it’s really not allowed, show it to the pharmacy for you to buy it.
3. Apply for travel insurance.
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In the same manner that you want to be prepared for possible minor illnesses, you also need to get yourself ready for serious medical emergencies. Remember, you’re in unfamiliar territory.
Even if you’re traveling in safe Philippine destinations, you still don’t know where the hospitals are located and how much exactly they will be charging for the medical services.
That’s why in the matter of how to travel safely, insurance is a must. With your trip covered, you won’t be paying a huge medical bill if you do get sick. What’s more, you’ll get assistance in arranging transportation and finding a good hospital.
Aside from safe travel, you can have peace of mind throughout your trip when you have travel insurance with you wherever you go.
4. Know more about the place you’re visiting.
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Although you’re covered with insurance policy, it still pays to learn more about the country or region you’re visiting for safe travels. With this, you can pack smartly and make sure you got everything you need.
For one, you should know about the weather in that place. If you're going to a place in the cold season, make sure to guard yourself against common colds, sore throat, and other respiratory illnesses.
On the flip side, if you’re going to a warm place like Boracay, you should take precautionary steps for sore eyes, mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, and skin conditions, like sunburns. With preparedness against illnesses, you can focus more on making your trip memorable.
Safety Tips For When You’re Already Traveling
5. Wash your hands regularly.
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You may not realize it but your hands are full of nasty germs. They get even dirtier, as you try a lot of activities during your trip. Think about all the surfaces you touched harboring microbes that trigger various kinds of health issues, from flu to coughs to upset stomach. This is why good hand hygiene is important as part of safe travels.
Make it a habit to wash your hands every time you hop on the bus or the cable car, before you eat, after you use the bathroom, and when you go back to your hotel. If it’s not possible to wash hands with water and soap, use alcohol that has a 70 percent solution. Avoid touching your face —especially your nose, mouth, and eyes— when your hands are dirty.
6. Beware of the food you eat.
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Food poisoning is a common problem for many travelers. It spoils the supposedly-fun trip. It makes your loved ones worry. Plus, it can send you to the emergency room. Not exactly the kind of safe travel you’re aiming for, right? That said, remember these tips to avoid food contamination:
- Stay away from uncooked food. Your meals should be cooked thoroughly and served hot. This will ensure that your food is free from bacteria.
- Go where the locals go. If a restaurant is bustling with people, it’s a good indication that they’re serving not only good dishes but fresh, clean food. That said, remember the golden rule: enjoy like a local.
- Check the food handlers if possible. Do they use protective gear? Do they wash hands often? Do they leave food items out in the open or is there proper storage?
- Avoid live animal markets. These places are a hotbed for infection. In the case of the coronavirus, it’s believed that it originated from a market in Wuhan, China. Steer clear of these kinds of public spaces.
- Bring your own water. You’re not sure whether or not the water served in the restaurant is safe. You’ll have peace of mind if you drink from your own bottled water.
7. Stay fit.
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Just because you’re on a break from work during vacation doesn’t mean you should hit a pause on your fitness.
If you want to avoid getting sick during your trip, you should do a couple of workouts before and during your trip to stay fit and healthy.
Exercise even in your hotel room. Do some jumping jacks, leg and arm swings, push-ups, planks, and lunges. Repeat these workout routines for 15 minutes and you’re already good. This will help boost your immune system, making you less vulnerable to diseases.
And if you do get sick, your body can fight off infection better and help you recover faster. How to travel safe is not just about effective prevention of sickness, but good defense.
8. Protect yourself from insect or animal bites.
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Mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks can transmit diseases, such as dengue, malaria, Zika, and chikungunya, among many others. These can be fatal. That’s why it’s important to keep yourself protected from insect bites. Take these precautionary measures as part of your safe travel, stress-free vacation game plan with friends and loved ones:
- Stay in an airconditioned room. Insects are less likely to get in these spaces since they’re often sealed.
- Wear the right clothing. Your clothes should cover most of your skin, especially when going to places that have bodies of water.
- Use insect repellent. Re-apply them every two to three hours or after you do an activity that may have washed or rubbed it off.
Aside from insect bites, beware of animal bites. Avoid petting dogs and cats, as they can likewise transmit disease-causing viruses. In case you get animal bites, scratches or licks you, wash that part of the body right away with soap and water.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed people’s lives in many ways. Travel, for one, has never been so drastically redefined, with much focus on health moving forward. If you’re planning to go to your ideal vacation destination once the lockdown is over, how to travel safely should be your priority.