After three months of stay-at-home orders, we are all ready for a change of scenery. The lure of travel is compelling. Everyone within your home’s four walls is itching to get out and explore.
As travel slowly opens up state by state and country by country, families will need to rethink summer travel to stay healthy.
Infectious disease specialists are still worried about people over age 60 or with underlying conditions. And it is common knowledge you could be an asymptomatic carrier putting others at risk if precautions are ignored.
As you dip your toe in the pool of travel, the medical, travel and security experts at Global Rescue have put together health and safety travel tips for families of all types.
Baby boomers — the generation born between 1946 and 1964 and currently between the ages of 54 and 72 — were the largest travel market segment before coronavirus. The pandemic brought to light the travel health risks of this demographic.
“Most seniors have underlying medical conditions, like heart or lung disease or diabetes, that puts them at a higher risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19 illness,” said Jacqueline Sioson, operations supervisor at Global Rescue. “There is also atypical presentation of pneumonia in the elderly, which includes confusion and generalized weakness. You may be sick and not know it.”
Extra precautions before traveling will be necessary. Sioson recommends:
- Consult with a primary health care provider prior to travel.
- Bring enough medication to last the entire trip.
- Have a list of medical facilities at the destination and the numbers of local EMS for emergencies.
- Eat well and stay hydrated.
- Start with a trip close to home. Plan lengthier trips once a successful plan is in place.
- If you plan to visit family, isolate for two weeks after doing so, per federal guidelines and infectious disease expertise.
Families With Children
According to the CDC, COVID-19 doesn’t appear to affect children as severely. In fact, only 1.7% of coronavirus patients between February and April were younger than 18 years old. Available research suggests most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms like fever, runny nose and a cough and some children experience no symptoms whatsoever.
Children under the age of two are not going to be able to wear a mask. You’ll want to focus prevention efforts on teaching your child to keep hands to themselves and touch as few items as possible. Good hand hygiene will also be important. Consider singing the ABC song while using soap and water, or you can try this new handwashing song by Elmo from Sesame Street.
Children over the age of two should wear a mask. Even if they are teenagers, they’ll probably need hygiene reminders.
“Teach your kids the importance of hand hygiene, wearing masks and social distancing. During vacation, advise kids to avoid touching things or strangers. Wash hands regularly. Practice social distancing even when in pools or on the beach,” Sioson said.
There is no evidence the virus can spread to people through the water in pools, possibly since disinfection with chlorine and bromine would likely inactivate the virus.
“But still be wary of frequently touched surfaces such as handrails, slides and structures for climbing and playing,” Sioson said. “Do not share goggles, nose clips and snorkels.”
On a good day, family travel takes preparation. On a coronavirus day it will take preparation, planning and plenty of patience.
In addition to researching a destination, selecting a hotel, packing for family members, navigating the airport, evaluating a restaurant and disinfecting lodging, parents are practicing their own hand hygiene, wearing a mask and social distancing — and reminding family members to do the same.
It could get stressful, so Sioson recommends parents:
- Should schedule time for themselves for a break.
- Ask for help if you are stressed.
- Talk to your friends and other family members.
- Take time to rest if feeling unwell.
Family Travel Kits
Everyone should have their own COVID-19 travel bag with wipes, hand sanitizer and face masks. But each age range will have a few extra items in their kit.
Kids: Pack medications for common illnesses such as fever, colds, diarrhea and allergies. Pack plastic bags for soiled diapers. Include small toys that could be easily disinfected.
Seniors: Pack a pulse oximeter, thermometer, glucose monitor kit for diabetics, hearing aids and batteries, folding cane or wheelchair and medications (including maintenance medications for fever, pain, colds, diarrhea and nausea). Include health records, health insurance, travel insurance details and a hard copy of emergency contact information.
Parents: Pack medications for fever, pain, colds, diarrhea and nausea. Include health records, health insurance, travel insurance details and a hard copy of emergency contact information.
“Adults have increased risk if they have any comorbidities, such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, etc.,” Sioson said. “Consult with your primary care provider prior to any travel. If you are unwell or have signs and symptoms of COVID-19, postpone your travel and seek medical consult.”
Travel Protection Services For All Ages
Whether you are traveling solo, with family or with extended family, all trips in this new travel world will require extra documentation. From health history to temperature checks and COVID-19 testing to travel protection services, these are just a few examples of addition things you’ll need to consider ahead of time.
Iceland, for example, requires COVID-19 test results before you arrive or a COVID-19 text immediately after you land.
“Some airlines or countries might require testing prior to travel or documentation that you haven’t faced an illness for the past two weeks,” Sioson said. “Be honest with your travel history. Make sure you are up to date with your routine vaccinations.”
Tour operators, cruise ships and private resorts may be asking for a bit more and a travel protection services membership can provide that peace of mind. Global Rescue offers family membership options to make sure everyone can access medical evacuation, security extraction, travel intelligence and assistance services. Click here to learn more.
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