I’ve been wiping down my airplane seat, tray table and entertainment system long before coronavirus became a concern. Call me a germaphobe (I’ve been called worse!) but the thought of all those lingering germs has always given me the heebie-jeebies. But now, given the global nature of coronavirus (COVID-19), it seems we all have to be more vigilant in our efforts to minimize the spread of germs, especially when we travel.
Here are six things to pack when you travel while coronavirus remains a threat:
1. Hand sanitizer
According to most news reports, hand sanitizer is sold out virtually everywhere. But hopefully you were able to get your hands on some before the shelves cleared out. (The company that makes Purell has addressed the shortage and says they’re increasing production to meet consumer demand.) If possible, carry hand sanitizer in your purse or pocket at all times so that you can quickly disinfect your hands anytime, anywhere. We often talk about the dirtiest things on airplanes (I’m looking at you tray tables and seatback pockets) but the reality is, the dirtiest things are your 10 very own fingers. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice) and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in between washings.
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2. Disinfecting wipes
Another hot ticket item these days is disinfecting wipes and you may not be able to find any online or on store shelves. Again, hopefully you were able to get some before they sold out otherwise, keep an eye on retailers to see when they’ll be back in stock. Use alcohol based disinfecting wipes like Clorox or SONO to wipe down all surfaces you’ll be touching on an airplane including the seat itself, arm rests, seat belt, tray table, seatback pocket, overhead light and fan controls, especially considering that, according to the Journal of Hospital Infection, coronavirus “can persist on inanimate surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to 9 days.” Yikes!
3. Airplane seat cover
Even a self-proclaimed germaphobe like me wouldn’t have busted out an airplane seat cover before coronavirus but things have changed. I’m certainly more interested in this now than I ever was before. Fresh Flight’s disposable airplane seat cover ($8.99) is made for one-time use and helps to keep you and your clothes fresh and clean while you’re traveling. The cover comes with one antimicrobial wipe to disinfect everything else surrounding your airplane seat like the tray table, seat belt and arm rests. OR: you can just bring a blanket from home like Naomi Campbell, if you have someplace sanitary to stash it and wash it when you arrive at your destination. Have you seen Naomi Campbell’s airplane boarding routine? If not, take a moment to check it out:
4. Face mask
It is not recommended that you wear a face mask, especially since they’re in short supply for health workers fighting coronavirus on the front lines but if you already have them, some experts suggest wearing one just to prevent yourself from touching your mouth and nose, since that’s the way you’re going to contract a virus.
RELATED: What to Know Before Wearing a Face Mask on an Airplane
5. Kleenex Pocket Packs
I’m shocked every time I see someone sneeze into their hands. Many people sneeze into their elbows to prevent the spread of germs but according to the CDC, the best thing to do is cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw it immediately into the garbage. “If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands,” they advise. And if possible, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after you’ve coughed or sneezed. These Kleenex Pocket Packs (40 packs of 9 tissues for $24.99) are handy for a multitude of uses.
6. Nail clippers
Since germs and bacteria can live and grow underneath your fingernails, it’s advised that you keep your nails clipped as short as you can so don’t forget to pack a pair of nail clippers. But remember, while the TSA permits nail clippers in both your carry-on and checked bags, they do advise on their website that “any sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.” Check out a variety of nail clippers on Amazon.
BONUS: Don’t forget to pack your own pen for filling out forms. This applies not just to flying but even when you’re visiting a doctor’s office. According to this article from The Healthy, “the item with the most germs is actually the clipboard pen used to sign paperwork. The clipboard pen has over 46,000 times more germs than an average toilet seat.” So next time you’re heading out the door, be sure to pop a pen into your bag. So easy to do and so much cleaner.
What items are you traveling with when flying during the coronavirus outbreak that you weren’t always traveling with before? Leave a comment below and let us know.
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If you have a Kindle or other electronic reader take it in case you get quarantined somewhere. At least you would still be able to read books and wipe the surface clean. I would hate being anywhere for two weeks without anything good to read!