Although restrictions remain in place, travel is at the forefront of many peoples’ minds. Cabin fever has reached an all-time high, and travelers long to stretch their legs and get away from too much screen time. What’s more, many travel destinations desperately need to boost the economy, getting local businesses back on track for success.
As attractions continue to reopen, some countries are welcoming international travelers, too. Of course, all of this begs the question. How do you safely explore the world without exposing yourself or your family to the virus?
Here’s what you need to know about safer travels, in the air and on the ground, so that when you’re ready to head out on your next adventure, you can do so confidently.
Airplanes: How to Stay Safe Traveling Abroad
Do you get grossed out at the thought of riding on an airplane loaded with strangers? If you think this mode of transportation represents the ultimate petri dish, think again. Countless studies indicate that planes have some of the cleanest air you can breathe. According to The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the potential of getting infected with COVID-19 on an airplane remains extremely low.
How low? Only 44 cases of the virus have been transmitted as the direct result of a flight. These cases include potential, possible, and confirmed. Because more than 1.2 billion passengers have flown over the past nine months, that’s one case per 27 million travelers. In other words, the risk of acquiring coronavirus from airplanes is minuscule.
But what about asymptomatic cases? Even if we assumed that 90 percent of cases went unreported, that’s still just one case for every 2.7 million passengers. Perhaps that’s why 79 percent of Americans plan to fly in the next six months.
How Clean is the Air on Your Plane?
Why does transmission remain minimal on planes despite so many strangers cooped up together in the same metal tube? Because of aircraft filtration systems. Airplanes each contain certified HEPA filters that block and capture approximately 99.97 percent of airborne particles over 0.3 microns.
The efficiency increases for even smaller particles, meaning the vast majority of globs containing the virus get filtered out. Forty percent of the air present in the cabin goes through HEPA filtration, and the other 60 percent is piped in fresh from outside the plane. All told, the air within an aircraft changes every three minutes while cruising. Using high-tech filtration systems and low-tech masks in combination means maximized passenger safety. Evidence shows that mask-wearing protects you and those around you by reducing the spread of the virus through sneezes, coughs, etc.
Be Aware of Surfaces
Ironically, when it comes to flying, you’re more likely to pick up the virus en route to your plane. The most significant risk for passengers occurs in the airport, during boarding, and at take-off and landing. That’s why mask-wearing remains such an essential precaution while inside an airport. At the gate, make sure you adhere to social distancing rules by maintaining a six-foot distance while getting to your gate, finding your seat, and deplaning.
You should also take precautions to minimize your contact with surfaces. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face and mask. Keep your mask on as much as possible in the airport and during your flight. Avoid eating and drinking, especially when airborne.
That said, you should know that airlines have increased their cleaning regimes. They now use electrostatic sprayers to disinfect planes. What’s more, SurfaceWise2 has just been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in high-touch areas (e.g., tray tables, seatbacks). This coating kills the coronavirus for up to seven days when applied to surfaces.
Experts also recommend packing sanitary hand wipes or hand sanitizer on the plane. That way, you can disinfect whether you’re waiting in the airport or mid-flight. Just remember to always wash your hands with soap and water wherever possible, especially before removing your mask.
WTTC “Safe Travels” Protocols
Now, you have a better understanding of risk factors at airports and on airplanes. But you’re likely wondering, “What about hotels and restaurants?” Fortunately, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) makes the answer to this question much easier with their new “Safe Travels” protocols.
Supported by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the “Safe Travels” initiative and corresponding stamps are supported by more than 200 CEOs, including some of the planet’s top tourism groups. The “Safe Travels” protocols are designed to restore travelers’ confidence while providing them with safer options. Eligible businesses include:
Eligible businesses will be permitted to use the stamp after they’ve implemented the health and hygiene protocols recommended by the WTTC. These businesses will also help determine the stamp of approval for local suppliers. Companies such as Expedia and Trip.com have already announced their support of the WTTC’s guidelines. As for destinations, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, and parts of Spain were among the first to sign on.
How to Stay Safe While Traveling
From HEPA filtration systems to WTTC stamps and mask-wearing, there are many ways to ensure safer travels. That way, you can start planning for an upcoming family trip with greater confidence. After all, you’ve only got 18 summers together, so you need to make them count.
At Global CommUnity, we offer luxury family vacations to over 35 global destinations. Each customized itinerary comes in both 4- and 5-star price points. Your family will enjoy opportunities to interact with a destination’s culture and people in profound ways. Open the door to an exciting world of luxury family travel possibilities now.