How to travel safely in the new normal

Monday, 30 November 2020 07:00 AM

Meeting new people, reconnecting with loved ones, exploring new places and escaping routine, are just some of the many joys of travel that can become daunting under the new normal. But they needn’t be when taking adequate health and safety precautions. If you’re going away on holiday and looking for ways to make your travel adventures safer, check out these safety tips and tricks we’ve selected to simplify your travel experience.

Get the basics right

Mask-wearing and hygiene have become prerequisites when entering public places. Before using any public facilities and services, research the types of hygiene measures that have been put in place to keep the public safe. This will help you assess the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 in public spaces. To ensure that you’re getting maximum protection for yourself and others around you, follow these basic best practices:

  • Cover your nose, mouth and chin with a multi-layered, breathable mask to effectively reduce exposure to respiratory droplets that could spread a virus.
  • Use soap and water to wash your hands after an outing, visiting the restroom, before eating, and when hands are visibly soiled, to remove germs that cause infectious illnesses.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser frequently to avoid contaminating common surfaces.
  • Wash and iron reusable masks regularly to kill off lingering germs.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Maintain social distancing where possible

We come into contact with different people all the time when travelling, which increases our risk of contracting and spreading infectious illnesses. Maintaining a safe distance from others (social distancing) is an additional way of reducing the transmission of COVID-19. So next time you’re onboard a plane, indulging in festivities with friends and family and exploring a destination, make use of these social distancing best practices:

  • To reduce your encounters and interactions with passengers and cabin crew during a flight, limit your movement onboard by remaining seated as much as possible and keeping masks on throughout the flight.
  • If you’re planning to attend a wedding or family event, avoid large gatherings, as these make it difficult for individuals to socially distance. But, if exposure to crowds is unavoidable, limit your time in crowded areas.
  • To get around, opt for a rental vehicle. This is a generally safer mode of public transport, that limits your exposure to crowds.
  • Forget the handshakes, kisses and hugs. Opt for non-contact greeting methods in new and less familiar social environments to lower the risk of contamination. From hand waves and thumbs-ups to flashing a peace sign and giving your best smile, there are plenty of ways to say hello and goodbye in the new normal.
  • If you’ve knowingly been exposed to a COVID-19 outbreak, take the necessary measures to self-isolate for a minimum of ten days and seek medical attention if you begin to display any symptoms.

Adopt new packing habits

It goes without saying that packing for a trip can be an overwhelming task, more so during a pandemic with new travel restrictions and airline baggage policies. To simplify this task, add these new ideas to your packing routine.

  • Create a COVID-19 travel checklist that includes all the essentials such as extra masks, hand sanitiser, antibacterial wipes, a thermometer and paper towels. Include a first aid kit containing treatment that can alleviate common symptoms like fevers, nausea, sneezes and coughs.
  • Separate your clean and dirty clothing with a travel laundry bag to avoid cross-contamination.
  • When storing a mask, fold it and keep it in a clean, sealable paper bag. Paper bags are breathable and create a less favourable environment for germs to breed.
  • When flying, keep your hand luggage lean and light. This ensures that you reduce contact with others by quickly boarding and disembarking a plane.

Get tech-savvy

We’re relying on our smart devices more than ever, to curb the spread of COVID-19. Using technology can lower contact rates between individuals, on surfaces and when handling objects that could potentially get contaminated. Make technology work for you by taking advantage of the following travel solutions:

  • Use your smart device to check-in online before flying. Online check-in not only comes with the added benefit of saving time, but you can avoid long queues and contact with check-in agents to reduce the risk of contracting an infectious illness. Find out more about the kulula online check-in process when flying the green machine.
  • Use an electronic boarding pass to avoid handling paper which could become contaminated with germs. At kulula, you can enjoy a paperless journey when checking-in online.
  • Download a contact tracing app like COVID Alert SA. These apps notify travellers if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19, equipping them with information to make necessary health and safety decisions.
  • Make use of mobile payment applications like Zapper or Snap Scan when shopping or eating out. These apps are touchless payment methods that inhibit the spread of the virus.

Ventilate your indoor spaces

Research has shown that enclosed spaces which are poorly ventilated, serve as breeding grounds for germs. Here are some measures you can take to ensure that the indoor areas you frequent when travelling are well ventilated:

  • Open windows in restrooms, accommodation areas and when using public transport, to ensure proper ventilation.
  • Avoid enclosed crowded spaces at shops, restaurants or social venues. These areas may not have adequate ventilation to keep germs at bay. If they have outdoor spaces, opt for those instead.

Make the most of the outdoors

The reduced risk of contracting the virus outside has seen a growing interest in different outdoor activities. And, with summer in full swing, you can enjoy these activities in abundance - visit the beach, go for a hike, enjoy a picnic at the park or have lunch with a friend at an outdoor restaurant. Being outdoors is great for your physical and mental well-being, but there is still a risk of exposure to respiratory droplets and contaminated surfaces. When embarking on an outdoor adventure, explore the following ideas to keep yourself and the people around you safe:

  • Follow the basic health and safety measures when enjoying outdoor activities.
  • Avoid high-risk outdoor activities that prevent you from maintaining a safe distance between others.
  • Look for less crowded alternatives to your favourite outdoor spots.
  • Enjoy outdoor activities during off-peak hours, to avoid crowds.

Be a considerate traveller

When travelling under the new normal, our choices and actions can have an impact on your fellow traveller. By sticking to health and safety protocols, we can each play our part in flattening the curve.

For updates on the latest health and safety guidelines visit the World Health Organization, IATA and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.

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