How To Travel During a Pandemic
This past week I flew from Dallas to LA, a trip I’ve taken more times than I can count. But this time was so different – for obvious reasons – because of COVID-19. I’m not one to get nervous before getting on a plane, but I’ll be honest, I was flat out scared to take the risk of being stuck on a flight with a hundred people all breathing recirculated air for 3 hours, scared that I would be stuck sandwiched next to someone coughing the whole fight (you know those people I’m talking about). I walked into the airport fully prepared to be the only one taking precautions, but I was pleasantly surprised by how safe I actually felt.
First of all, you should know that I religiously only fly Southwest, so my experience is biased. They were SO good about taking the appropriate measures to keep their customers as safe as possible – just another reason I will always be a loyal customer- But aside from everything they did, I did everything in MY power to keep myself safe while making the trip to California. And while it seems no one is talking much about leaving their house, I wish I had someone to talk to/help put my mind at ease before I began traveling, so I’m going to share my experience plus some tips with you! This way you can be prepared, both mentally and physically for any future travels you may be planning in 2020.
Most airlines use self-serve kiosks for you to check yourself in, so you’re touching a screen a hundred other people have also used. Southwest had every other kiosk available so that social-distancing was in effect. Also, they had an employee wiping down every kiosk screen in between uses so they were technically clean for you. However, I kept gloves on. The gate agent still had to touch my ID.. as well as the TSA agent at security. Once I was through security and seated at my gate, I sanitized my ID and only then did I take my gloves off.
This helped me access them easily, but it also made getting my bag through security a lot easier. I used a clear toiletry bag to pack my wipes, multiple small bottles of sanitizer, a few pairs of gloves, and an extra mask. To be honest, I was a little scared of getting all my sanitizer bottles through security but it was super helpful to have them all in a clear bag to put straight into the bin.
Finding a place to sit at the gate was probably the most challenging part of staying “safe” at the airport. Because multiple flights use the same gate, the waiting areas seemed surprisingly full. I felt as though I was constantly moving around to keep my distance. Since I was pretty early, I tried to find an empty seating area for as long as possible. Only when it got closer to my departure time did I make my way back to my actual gate. Even then I tired to sit at least 4 seats away from anyone and avoided the charging stations (because people always crowd around those) Which leads me to my next tip…..
The Dallas Love-Field airport is really nice because every seat has an outlet under it to charge your devices. However most airports aren’t so fortunate. In both of my layovers, in Phoenix and in Vegas, there were limited charging towers in the terminals. There were SO many people crowding that area to charge their phones and there was no possible way to keep your distance. I actually just let my phone die on the last leg of my trip because it was more important for me to avoid any type of crowd.
The flight itself seemed clean to me. Southwest did not allow anyone to sit in the middle seat so it was relatively easy to keep some space from others. Everyone was also required to keep their mask on at all times. Remember that baggy of cleaning supplies I mentioned before? Before sitting down I took it out of my carry-on and used my baby wipes to clean the arm rests, the seat belt buckles and the tray table. Once seated, I sanitized my hands and tried not to touch any other part of the plane. It felt a little dramatic at first to be that person but after a full 5 seconds I realized it’s 2020 and we are all wearing mask and if someone thinks I’m being extra then they are probably someone I don’t want to sit near. I felt a lot more calm after everyone had boarded and I could figure out who was sitting around me and how they were handling their own personal space. I will say one thing I didn’t expect during flying was that the flight attendants did not pass out drinks or snacks on my flights (with the exception of 1 flight… I’m assuming because it was longer than the others- even then they only handed out water and pretzels) Looking back, I’m glad they didn’t so people didn’t have any reason to take their mask off. With that being said…
This one is tricky because in the Dallas Love-Field airport, almost all the restaurants were closed so the newsstands had extra-long lines. (This wasn’t the case at any other airport I was in – all restaurants and coffee shops were open)
Landing in California felt like a big weight off my shoulders – the trip was definitely more stressful than normal. Getting into the car and being able to take off my mask felt like coming home from work and taking off your bra (girls you know exactly what I’m talking about) I felt strange not to hug my family right when they picked me- I waited until I got to their house , washed my hands and changed out of my traveling clothes before touching them or anything in their house. I even sprayed my travel clothes with disinfectant and left them outside overnight just to be safe.
I know that there are so many extra steps to think about because of COVID-19. And traveling via airplane only heightens the need to be extra cautious and take the most preventative measures possible. Yes, it’s overwhelming, but it’s doable! Take note of the airlines that are doing a good job of keeping their customers safe because it might be worth a few extra dollars to ensure your health! And remember, it’s not just about you, but the health and safety of anyone you’re coming in contact with – family and strangers alike!
Click here to shop the products I used while traveling and other, similar options! DM me on Instagram if you have any questions while you prepare to travel! I’m happy to help in any way I can!