The novel Coronavirus has as of today infected 267,013 people and killed 11,201. As it continues to spread, countries have begun to close their borders, visas are being cancelled, a few dozen airlines—including Delta, American, and United—have cut their flights to various regions of the world, and even local travel is being reconsidered.
While the CDC recommends people stay put, many don’t have the luxury of cancelling all travel and you may still need to travel for essential or urgent reasons. Whether your job requires you to travel or you need to return home, here’s everything you need to know about navigating the changing travel landscape:
- Travel insurance. Some policies provide coverage for cancellation due to any reason, however, unless this was the type of coverage you selected when you purchased your policy, chances are you are only covered for reimbursement in the event of bereavement, illness or divorce. Check the terms of your policy for clauses related to government restrictions. It’s worth noting that this reason for cancellation will only be accepted if you bought your insurance before an announcement by the government was made. If you are traveling now on a booking made after the World Health Organization deemed COVID-19 a pandemic, chances are you will not be able to purchase travel insurance that covers your cancellation due to the spread of the virus.
- Pack a hand sanitizer. TSA has updated its guidelines to allow passengers to carry 12 ounces of hand sanitizer in a carry-on bag. Take advantage of the new size allowance, and whenever possible, wash your hands. Be alert of the multiple surfaces you’ll be touching while navigating the check-in counters, security, the gate, boarding, etc, and use your hand sanitizer often.
- Bring a pack of wipes with you to sanitize the airplane seat, your armrest, the folding table and the surrounding areas.
- Sit by the window. While you may be able to social distance in some scenarios, sitting on a plane is not one of them. Besides the fact that you are sitting next to strangers for hours in a flying metal can, people move during flights. They go to the bathroom, walk the corridor to stretch their legs, and grab items from the overhead compartments. Although there is still a lot to be researched around the Coronavirus, preliminary studies say that passengers in window seats are less likely to come in contact with an infected person.
- Keep the same precautions you did at the airport and during the flight throughout your entire trip. When you get to the hotel, maintain the distance between yourself and the receptionist. Wipe surfaces in your room and items such as the remote control, and wash your hands every time you walk in the room.