What's the Safest Way to Travel During the Coronavirus? – Bon Appetit
As COVID-19 continues to cause very real and lasting damage around the globe, it feels strange to be writing about travel, even the low-key domestic kind. But after spending the past 155 days staring at the same four walls, a lot of us could use an escape. Enter the all-American road trip.
After talking to two experts—Maria Sundaram, MSPH, Ph.D., an infectious disease epidemiologist and postdoctoral fellow at ICES Ontario, and Darria Long, M.D., author and clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee—I learned not only that road tripping is the safest way to travel right now but also how to plan accordingly. They answered my most pressing questions: What are the risks? How can we mitigate them? Is there a way to eat safely on the go?
So without further ado, here are their tips for staying as safe as possible while traveling, stopping, staying, and eating your way across the country.
Travel by Car
To be clear, staying home is the surest way to minimize your potential exposure to the virus. But unlike trains, buses, and planes, which are packed with potentially germy humans, driving is the safest travel option because you can manage those variables. “You have a lot more control over your environment: You can roll down the windows [for extra ventilation] and you can choose who is sharing your space,” Sundaram says.
She suggests traveling with a small group of friends or family who you feel confident have been isolating, wearing their masks, and washing their hands. Then continue to do those things together.
Order Food To Go
As certain states continue to debate reopening guidelines, some restaurants have welcomed customers back to their tables. But just because you can dine in doesn’t mean you should dine in, because we know the virus spreads via respiratory droplets that are expelled when folks cough, sneeze, or even talk emphatically. Also: You can’t wear a mask, the main defense against spreading said particles, and eat at the same time.
But one of the best parts of any road trip is the journey—those unexpected food gems you find along the way. So what should we do when the mood strikes? Order takeout or pickup, according to Sundaram. “Don’t eat in the restaurant; it’s not worth the risk,” Long adds.
And if eating at a restaurant is a must, settle only for places with outdoor patios, masked staff, and plenty of space between tables. And of course: Wash.Your.Hands.
Embrace the Great Outdoors
Nature is an effective COVID-19 repellant, for a couple of reasons, Sundaram says. The virus tends to live longer on indoor surfaces rather than outdoor ones where it’s exposed to differences in temperature, humidity, and UV radiation that can essentially kill it. Staying outside, where there’s increased airflow and increased ventilation, means you’re less likely to breathe in someone else’s recently expelled, possibly contagious air—both a rancid and reassuring thought.
Assuming you can avoid crowds, approved outdoor activities include hiking, swimming, biking, etc. Hard no: visiting shared and indoor facilities, like gyms, pools, and saunas. Whatever you do, have a mask accessible and “try to think about ways that you can protect others and yourself,” Sundaram says.
Batch Grocery Trips
Grocery shopping while on the road is inevitable. But when you’re crossing over into a new community, there is always a chance you could jeopardize the health of locals. Sundaram recommends reducing their exposure—yes, to you—by ordering ahead on grocery apps and arranging for curbside pickup. When that’s not an option, Long is all about batching socially distanced trips and keeping them to a minimum. Read: If you forget the fancy choc chips, you’re making trail mix cookies with those bars you stashed in the glove box instead.