The world now bears witness to the sudden shift in the travel culture because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gone are the days of packed buses, trains, and airplanes. No longer do you hear complaints about bumping shoulders with the passenger on the MRT standing next to you.

Because of this new and highly-contagious disease, travelers should now strictly observe safety and health precautions to protect themselves. Below are 11 safety and health precautions you consider before and while traveling:

1. Consider the health condition of everyone on the trip.
2. Know your destination thoroughly.
3. Consult with your doctor before skipping town.
4. Practice social distancing.
5. Add a first aid kit to your packing list.
6. Regularly disinfect your belongings.
7. Divide and hide your money.
8. Compile a list of emergency numbers of your destination.
9. Check with your country’s embassy.
10. Take basic self-defense lessons.
11. Keep an eye out for suspicious strangers.

Health precautions to consider before traveling

Unless absolutely imperative, travel is strictly restricted at the current height of the pandemic. Unless a cure or a vaccine is developed soon, the world is indefinitely looking at a revolutionized travel culture. This is why reckless travelers who don’t take precautions risk having their and their loved one’s health compromised.

However, some countries have already eased their travel restrictions and have permitted limited tourist activities. Whether you’re traveling for work or for leisure, below are health precautions you should take to protect yourself from the pandemic:

1. Consider the health condition of everyone on the trip.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels

Whether you’re solo backpacking or in a group, checking on the health condition of your fellow travelers is an important aspect of traveling safely.

If you’re currently sick, immunocompromised, or recovering from an illness or surgery, chances are you shouldn’t be traveling, at all! Otherwise, you’re considered a high-risk patient who is more likely to contract the virus.

2. Know your destination thoroughly.

Photo courtesy of Porapak Apichodilok via Pexels

Make sure you study your destination well, including the activities you plan to do there. Look into common local illnesses and crimes committed, to prepare well for them. Knowing your destination will keep you from unknowingly wandering into a COVID-19 hotspot.  So take time to do your research before leaving your home.

Aside from the Novel Coronavirus, you might encounter other diseases such as malaria or dengue. If you’re traveling to a destination that is known to have rampant cases of such illnesses, make sure your vaccinations are updated, to avoid catching these diseases.

3. Consult with your doctor before skipping town.

Photo courtesy of Marcelo Leal via Unsplash

Even if you and your group believe that you have no existing medical concerns, see a doctor before you travel, anyway. 

Orient your doctor about the destination and what activities you’ll be participating in, to help him or her picture your vacation from a medical perspective. You might have underlying diseases that can affect your travel activities during the pandemic; so make sure you get a green light from your health provider and take the necessary healthcare precautions.

4. Practice social distancing.

Photo courtesy of Kate Trifo via Pexels

Maintaining a safe distance from other people, including your loved ones, is mandatory during the pandemic. Follow this stringently when traveling, because you can never be too sure. 

The practice of social distancing is a huge part of flattening the curve or lowering the rate of infections; so hospitals and health workers won’t be overwhelmed. Tourists are expected to practice social distancing, even on vacation. Some tourist attractions are preparing for this new normal in tourism.

5. Add a first aid kit to your packing list. 

Photo courtesy of Anna Shvets via Pexels

Things can get ugly fast during a trip, especially if you’re up for extreme adventures. Make sure that when you travel, you always pack a first aid kit in your travel packing list. Include extra face masks, hand sanitizers, and disinfectants. This is your first line of defense from COVID-19.

Not all destinations have medical professionals nearby; so learn basic first aid, at the very least. Before you depart for your destination, orient everyone in your group on how to use your first aid kit. This will help expand your safety net because everyone will know what to do if disaster strikes. If you’re feeling severe symptoms related to the virus, have yourself checked right away.

6. Regularly disinfect your belongings.

Photo courtesy of Ann Shvets via Pexels

Aside from wearing protective gear and practicing social distancing, make it a habit to regularly disinfect your belongings

The virus can stay on surfaces and infect anyone who touches them. Research is still ongoing about how long the Novel Coronavirus stays on objects. So it’s hugely important to regularly disinfect your belongings, especially while traveling. You should also regularly wash your hands to prevent the virus from possibly staying on your body.

Safety precautions before traveling

Quarantine measures have led to a decrease in the crime rate around the world. However, this does not mean that crime has been permanently eradicated. Traveling for work or leisure can still run you the risk of falling victim to the virus. Below are a few safety precautions you should take to avoid becoming the next crime target:

7. Divide and hide your money

Photo courtesy of JP Valery via Unsplash

Professional pickpockets can very quickly steal your money if you’re not careful. One way you can protect yourself from them is to find smart ways to hide your money in secret pockets in your clothes or bag. The closer these are to your body, the better. You should also divide your money and store extra cash where no one can reach it.

You can also use thief-proof luggage; so you’re protected en route to your destinations. Make sure that you have a secure hiding place for your cash and valuables in your hotel room, too.

8. Compile a list of emergency numbers of your destination.

Photo courtesy of Cathryn Lavery via Unsplash

Compiling emergency contacts can be very useful when things go south during your vacation. You can turn to the tourist office of your destination to ask for contact details of local health services and law enforcement agencies, should you need their assistance. This is an important travel precaution that can help you in a pinch.

Find out the numbers of the hospital and the police station nearest to your accommodation. Store these numbers in your phone and have back-up hard copies. If you can, memorize these contact details, to ensure that you can refer to them in the time of need.

9. Check with your country’s embassy.

Photo courtesy of Amy Hirschi via Unsplash

When traveling to a largely unfamiliar country, seek recognition from your country’s embassy or consulate in that area, to enroll your trip. 

They can provide insightful information about the country you are visiting, which can help you make smarter decisions about where to go; what to do; and who you associate with. The embassy can also help secure you during an emergency and contact your family or the local authorities back home to inform them of your situation.

10. Take basic self-defense lessons. 

Photo courtesy of Anton Belitskiy via Pexels

Traveling gives you the opportunity to meet strangers with colorful stories to tell. However, not all people you meet will have your best interest at heart. Some might even take advantage of your unfamiliarity of the place and hurt you.

If you’re staying at a foreign destination for a long period of time, consider taking self-defense classes. Knowing even the most basic ways to defend yourself from an attacker can save your life. For additional protection, bring a can of pepper spray to fend off attackers.

 11. Keep an eye out for suspicious characters. 

Photo courtesy of Wyron A via Unsplash

Crimes against tourists are fairly common in famous travel destinations. Criminals target unsuspecting travelers by stealing their property and involving them in illegal activities.

Associating with the wrong people can easily ruin your vacation and possibly endanger your life. One of the most important travel safety precautions you can observe is to look out for the people that inexplicably try hard to get close to you or isolate you. Report to the authorities any suspicious activity that makes you feel uneasy. 

Travel has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic spread. However, should a cure or a vaccine be developed soon, it won’t hurt to keep observing safety and health precautions to protect yourself away from home. Even when no global pandemic exists, it always pays to be prepared.