Vacation travel is downright dangerous this year. Earlier this week, the CDC warned Americans to stay home for Thanksgiving. Across the country people are abandoning their routes and turning around.
And for good reason. Some vacation travel mistakes could land you in the hospital – or worse.
New cases of COVID-19 are shattering records, as my colleague TBEN Suzanne Kelleher recently noted. Many health experts warn against non-essential travel. But if you go for it – and I’m not saying you should – there are other mistakes you should avoid. Because some travel mistakes can kill you.
“The coronavirus is ruthless,” says Mahmood Khan, a professor at Virginia Tech, who heads the business school’s program in hospitality and tourism management. “Every trip that can be avoided will save suffering or even death.”
It bears repeating. Taking a trip could be your worst vacation travel mistake. If you can avoid traveling, do so.
What travel mistakes could lead you to the hospital?
But – and you knew there would be a “but” – it’s been a long pandemic and many Americans have already made the decision to go somewhere for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years. It’s not their fault. They made their reservations at the end of the summer when things were still relatively secure.
So here we are, days before one of the greatest travel vacations of the year. And people want to go, but they also want to come back alive. So what travel mistakes could lead you to the hospital?
It turns out that following the oft-repeated travel tips, having the right attitude, choosing the right airline and hotel, and taking care of yourself can help keep you safe. Failure to do so could get you killed.
You do not believe me? Here are what experts say are the worst vacation travel mistakes. And a word of warning: it’s not like the travel advice stories from past vacations. Far from there.
Not taking advice is a travel mistake that could kill you
You know the advice because you’ve heard it a hundred times. “Wear a mask. Practice social distancing. Disinfect your hands frequently. Get the flu shot, ”says Nikhil Agarwal, senior doctor at Wellmed, a health care provider. “Try to avoid places where cases are on the increase and large crowded gatherings.” Agarwal says the biggest mistake people make is to travel if they feel sick. “If you have symptoms of covid or the flu, stay home,” he says.
Being too comfortable
Travelers are running out of steam, and maybe that’s a good thing, say experts like Alex Pollak, CEO of ParaDocs Worldwide, a medical services company. “When it comes to mistakes that could be very damaging to a traveler, one of the first that comes to mind is getting too comfortable,” he says. For example, falling asleep on a long-haul flight and removing your mask. “And then rubbing his eyes without remembering to wash his hands,” he said. “Yes, air travel is considered very safe in today’s environment, but only if all the rules are followed. Stay awake and stay alert. It allows you to practice the right behaviors that we have learned in the past six months. Order coffee on a flight, and sleep when you get to your destination. ”Failure to do so is a mistake that could kill you.
Stay at the wrong hotel
Let’s be clear, some hotels are being slack on health and safety during the pandemic. Don’t stay in one of them. Better yet, don’t stay in a hotel at all.
If hotel accommodation is in your future, there’s an easy way to tell if your hotel isn’t cleaning properly. Just look at their website. Is there any up-to-date information on its new cleaning protocols? “If they haven’t taken the time to update their website with this information, they probably aren’t cleaning up their hotel the way you want,” says Amanda Nicholas, vice president of business development at Jacaruso, a company which provides remote hotel sales and eLearning services.
Using an elevator
Here’s something you might not have considered doing: use the stairs instead of the elevators in hotels. “Outbreaks have been linked to the use of elevators,” says Kevin Farmer, physician and associate professor at the University of Florida. “But as much as possible, keep your hands away from the handrail when using the stairs. Heavily touched surfaces like this should be avoided.
Assuming the car is safer than the airplane
That’s not necessarily the case, says Peter Plantes, doctor and epidemiologist at hc1, a healthcare company. “Car travel is safer than air travel – unless you bring together several people with different daily exposures to COVID-19. Plants notes that cars do not have ventilation filters capable of removing COVID-19. “It’s better to fly and take extra precautions at the airport,” he says.
Another mistake that could kill you: ignoring your sanity
The holidays can drive you a little crazy. Don’t let this happen to you, says Jeremy Murchland, president of Seven Corners, a travel insurance company. “Combine an already difficult time of year with the stress of the ongoing pandemic and the level of loneliness, and the number of people struggling with their mental health this holiday season is more than likely to increase,” says -he. Travelers this year are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Murchland says you can alleviate stress by scheduling Zoom calls with friends and relatives to interact with them and make everyone feel connected, without the stress of travel.
So there you have them – travel mistakes could land you in the hospital. This year they won’t just bother you. They could kill you too.