Oh COVID-19 (sigh)! To think that one little virus would change the world as we know it. Somehow it feels very much like the wartime stories I used to hear from my grandma — my 92-year-old, Indian grandmother who lived through the Second World War, the Indian Independence movement, a couple of geo-political wars and a very controversial National Emergency.
I remember her talking about blackouts at night so that enemy warplanes wouldn’t be able to see them, and hence not bomb them. Stay-at-home orders over cities with the military patrolling the streets to enforce them. Cities and countries paralyzed, waiting with bated breath to hear what happens next, and wondering if life would ever return to “normal” again. Does it sound familiar? We may be doing it for different reasons, but we are doing the same things, aren’t we?
COVID-19 and Travel
It goes without saying,COVID-19 has affected our entire way of living. Our work, our social life, the way we interact with each other, our overall priorities in life. One of the hardest hit aspects of our lives has been our ability to travel (looking into the distance longingly). Where once we used to just book tickets and fly away (pun intended), now we are mostly “grounded” and have to follow strict protocols and are advised to travel only when it is absolutely necessary.
However, the future doesn’t look as gloomy as now. As vaccines are rolled out and the world inches towards a recovery, more and more places are opening up to international travellers, especially people like me who want to go visit home after so long. But considering what we have experienced the past year, travel will never be the same again. We will need to (and should!) abide by certain protocols for public health and safety. Whether enforced or not, there are rules of etiquette that all of us should follow when travelling in the current and post-covid era.
8 Practical Travel Tips to Reduce Your COVID-19 Risk
1. Reconsider Your Travel Plans
While the pandemic is ongoing, do not travel unless absolutely necessary. If not for your health, for the health and safety of others, especially for those with comprimised immune systems. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends delaying all international travel until fully vaccinated. Understand that even then you are still able to contract and spread COVID-19 and its variant strains.
2. Wear a Mask
Almost everyone is probably screaming their heads off about this but, wear your masks at all times! At least for the foreseeable future and especially when you’re ill. Even after COVID-19 goes away (ugh! Who am I kidding, it is never really gonna go away for good) — it is a good idea to keep wearing masks in public places, especially in any kind of public transport. Buy some jazzed up masks and make them a statement or conversation piece.
3. Practice Hygiene
Of course the usual hygiene: wash your hands, try not to touch your face, always keep a sanitizer handy, disinfect items and surfaces you touch.
4. Personal Space
Maintain a respectable amount of distance from people at all times. The CDC recommends we keep 6 feet / 2 meters between us and those we don’t cohabitate with. Even under normal circumstances, I doubt anyone enjoys us being in their personal space.
5. Keep Your Hands to Yourself
Avoid touching anything! No more touching the railings while climbing down stairs/escalators (Am I the only weirdo who does that?!).
6. Clean Up After Yourself
Until now a lot of us have had the luxury of servers or janitors cleaning up after us in public spaces, but circumstances have changed now. We need to protect the vulnerable from COVID-19 and its variant strains. Disinfect any surfaces that you may have come in contact with in your hotel room, tables at diners, etc. I am not asking you to go down on all fours and start scrubbing floors. Just a spray of disinfectant or an antibacterial wipe should do.
7. Follow the Rules
Be aware and respectful of local COVID-19 guidelines in place wherever you find yourself in the world. Even if these guidelines or regulations are not enforced, there’s a reason why they’ve been implemented and someone’s life could depend on you following them.
8. Get Vaccinated
If one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines are available to you, consider getting it. We, as a world, are in this together.
Reduce Your COVID-19 Risk
These are, naturally, some of the more general etiquettes that we would be expected to follow for the near future. Every location has their own guidelines that are constantly changing and which we are expected to follow. We need to reprogram ourselves and our actions to reduce our “germ footprint”. Our collective mindfulness is what will bring the world back up on its feet again.
By Sonam Sanghvi
Sonam Sanghvi is originally from India, currently residing in Abu Dhabi, UAE. She is a Technical Writer by profession and a word-storm-conjurer by choice. A happy-go-lucky womxn living far from home, who is very happy and proud to be a part of this beautiful community of empowered women.