Coronavirus travel? What you need to know and bring along to stay safe


To avoid catching other people’s germs on your next flight, follow these steps to ensure you’ve properly disinfected your plane seat before take-off.


For travelers who normally fret about forgetting passports, shaving kits or clean underwear, there is a whole new set of concerns as they prepare to hit the road again after being housebound amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With stay-at-home orders being lifted, those who travel frequently for business or pleasure are mapping their own strategies on items and procedures they’ll need to stay safe at airports, on planes, in hotels or just trying to get from place to place.

“We never thought about everything we touch from the time we leave our home,” says Peter Greenberg, travel editor on “CBS This Morning” and host of the “Travel Detective” series on PBS.

As one who has logged hundreds of thousands of miles on assignment, Greenberg doesn’t plan to go to absurd lengths to avoid the virus (“I refuse to turn myself into a hazmat suit”), but he says he has a number of ideas that should help minimize the risk.

Besides having a mask, he says he plans to fastidiously wear gloves when traveling. On planes, he says he will bring his own bottled water to minimize contact with the flight attendant. In hotel rooms, he says he will ditch the bedspread and run the drinking glasses under hot water for more than two minutes to sanitize them.

Staying safe on the road: Here’s how to sanitize your hotel room

Greenberg considers those to be common-sense precautions. “After that, I go with God,” he says.

It’s not just travel experts like Greenberg. Regular travelers, some of them constantly on the road and others now retired looking forward to leisure trips, answered our call to offer their own travel tips that go beyond the basics:

Study up before you go

Gene Rivers, who sells real estate in Tallahassee, Florida, says he studies airlines, hotels and ground transportation he’ll be using before he goes on a trip to see what precautions they are taking to find the safest alternatives.

“Risk goes up when flight attendants or restaurant waitstaff or hotel check-in staff are not behind Plexiglass shields or not wearing masks or not cleaning counters after every customer leaves,” he said in an email. “I like planes that honor the spacing rules and minimize contact, like boarding from the last seat forward.”

Consider getting a UV wand

Susan Smith, a retiree in Naples, Florida, says that among her precautions is a UV wand, a device that uses ultraviolet light that can be waved over surfaces to kill bacteria. On a large scale, UV light is being tested as a way of sanitizing New York City’s subways

She says she also is packing slippers but will stop short of bringing her own sheets. “That’s what the UV wand and Lysol are for.”

 Bring your own pillow

Paula McCombie of South Barrington, Illinois, says she will bring her own pillow to any hotels. And that’s only the start. McCombie also says she will keep hand sanitizer in a small spray bottle along with sanitizing wipes. “I plan to wipe down the areas that I touch while in my seat on the plane,” she says. “Upon arriving, I will be washing my hands very well in the nearest facility.” 

Avoid connecting flights

McCombie also said she plans to avoid connecting flights to avoid spending time in another airport. That’s one less location where she might come in contact with the virus.

Pack your own snacks

Michael Altneu of Gilbert, Arizona, who works in global supply management, said he’ll pack a two-week supply of healthy snacks for an upcoming trip to China. Why that much?  Because “I am most likely facing a 14-day quarantine once China allows U.S. citizens to resume travel, and I’ll be staying in a hotel not of my choosing.” 

Heck, pack your own meals

Scott Smith, a regional business manager, doesn’t stop at snacks. He says he brings along his own breakfasts and lunches – and he has been on the road continuously throughout the pandemic except for one week in March. His biggest beef: “No state, city or town has the same restrictions,” he says.

Use disinfectant wipes

Cindy Wilkerson, who works in the insurance industry in Sacramento, California, said she’s going to use disinfectant wipes at hotels but otherwise plans to put her faith in the cleaning staff. “I’m going to trust that the hotel is doing its job. Maybe I’m too trusting? I think the risk is small that I will contract COVID from a hotel room,” she said in an email.


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