Pandemic Travel: How to travel safely this summer

Pandemic Travel: How to travel safely this summer

Between finding passports and gathering booking confirmations, following luggage weight limits and decanting liquids, air travel can be a stressful affair.

Add Covid-19 regulations and it’s a whole other ball game.

As we head into summer, certain regulations will continue in order to keep one another safe, especially when travel in and out of Auckland resumes on December 15.

Passengers leaving Auckland must be double vaccinated or produce a negative test taken within 72 hours.

Across the country, masks will be mandatory on aircrafts and public transport and regions will operate according to Red or Orange regulations as part of the traffic light system.

However, there are additional measures every traveller can take to keep themselves, their family and their destination’s community as safe as possible.

Before you leave

Pandemic Travel: How to travel safely this summer

Save time and close contact by printing out all necessary documents and checking in online. Photo / 123rf

Don’t forget to get vaccinated
First and foremost, the best way to ensure protection against Covid-19 while travelling is to be double vaccinated. If you’re yet to take the plunge, check out why it’s so important, and where you can get vaccinated.

Pre-organise your documents
At a minimum, you will need proof of vaccination (or a negative Covid-19 test result) and your boarding passes. For minimum hassle and interaction with transport staff, ensure all documentation is easily accessible on your phone or printed out and if you can, check in online.

Use the ladies or gents
Your bathroom at home isn’t just more comfortable, it’s can also be safer compared to the airport terminal or aircraft lavatories, where you can be in close contact with several other people.

For shorter journeys, try scheduling a trip to the bathroom before leaving home. If you do get caught out and need to use public facilities, don’t worry, just make the visit swift and wash those hands thoroughly.

Organise transport
The more people you’re around, the higher the risk of infection. If you can, skip public transport or coaches and opt for a taxi, or better yet, a lift from someone in your bubble. Here are rules for car-sharing in Red level regions.

While in the car, be sure to wear a mask, keep the windows open and sanitise your hands before and after.

In the airport

Pandemic Travel: How to travel safely this summer

Ensure you follow social distancing whilst waiting in airports. Photo / 123rf

Follow the rules
Since airports will already have Covid-19 protocols in place, the best advice for staying safe is to follow them! This includes social distancing and mandatory face coverings.

Extra for experts
Airports are regularly sanitised but for additional peace of mind, pack your own disinfecting wipes, a travel blanket to sit on in waiting areas and a small bottle of sanitiser. According to America’s Centres for Disease Control and Protection, anything greater than 60 per cent ethanol or 70 per cent isopropyl alcohol will do the trick.

Carry on
Experts are divided on the question of carry-on vs check-in when it comes to Covid-19. However, in a recent interview with the Independent, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said carry-on bags simply have fewer people handling them.

“Our logic has always been that checked-in bags are handled by eight pairs of hands, from the check-in desk to the boarding gate, all the way through to the arrival airport as well – whereas a carry-on bag the passenger keeps with them at all times,” O’Leary said.

Additionally, by travelling light, you avoid having to congregate with other travellers around the baggage carousel.

Mask up
If it’s been a while since you’ve bought a new face-covering (or washed your favourite one), now is the time to reassess.

Pandemic Travel: How to travel safely this summer

They may not look fashionable, but medical-grade blue face masks are one of the best in terms of protection. Photo / Unsplash

Disposable masks: Used by essential workers and healthcare professionals, single-use face masks are the Ferrari of facial protections, offering the best defence against airborne particles.

Even better, they can be machine washed up to 10 times and still be better than cloth masks.

Material masks: If you can’t part with your trendy face covering, no worries, just wear it over top of a medical-grade facemask.

Ensure your hands are freshly sanitised or cleaned before touching the mask, only ever handle the ear loops and keep it stored in a clean, resealable bag. Your jacket pocket or wrist won’t do.

If it’s been more than a day (…or a month) since it was washed, get into the habit of washing it daily in 60-degree water.

On the plane

Thanks to high-quality air filtration systems, rigorous cleaning and mandatory mask use, the risk of transmission on an aircraft can be as low as

.

Stay seated
Several studies report that the less you move around the cabin, the less likely you are to have contact with airborne particles, whether it’s Covid-19 or the common cold.

Upon arrival

You’ve arrived! But safety doesn’t stop there…

Know the region’s Covid-19 rules
Different regions will fall into different ‘stages’ of the Covid-19 Protection Framework. Check what stage your destination is in so you’re aware of what rules to follow.

Regardless, you will need to keep masking up in mandated locations and scanning in wherever you visit. Keep that little bottle of sanitiser handy too.

Pandemic Travel: How to travel safely this summer

Don't forget to scan in everywhere you go this summer. Photo / 123rf

Consider vaccination rates
Your hometown may have high vaccination rates but unfortunately, that isn’t the case for all destinations in New Zealand, especially those popular with holiday-goers.

If you must travel to a city with low vaccination rates to see friends or family, consider taking the most direct route to your accommodation and keep to a minimum exploring low-vaccinated suburbs.

Alternatively, you could shake up your summer and visit a city with highly vaccinated populations. Find out latest vaccination rates here.

Have further questions or queries about Covid-19 travel protocols? Check out covid19.govt.

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