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Is a Summer Vacation Safe for your Family?

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By Shannon Thomason
UAB News

Destinations are opening up for summer vacation, but does that mean it is safe to travel with your family?

The most important consideration while traveling during COVID-19 is weighing the risk, says Curry Bordelon III, DNP, assistant professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing.

Whether traveling by plane or car, what are the risks related to your destination? If you travel by air, Bordelon says, you will need to take into account the number of available flights, how many connections, the size of the airport and transportation from the airport to your destination. Will you use a ride share, bus or taxi, or rent a car? Are you staying at a hotel or destination resort? 

“We often take these steps for granted, but now we have to pay close attention when deciding our travel plans,” Bordelon said. “Despite the fears associated with travel and crowds, there are methods to protect yourself and your family while enjoying some much-needed time away.” 

Each family or group should determine what risks they find acceptable in order to vacation. Bordelon shares his recommendations and what he and his family feel comfortable doing during the pandemic.

Airlines 

Many airlines have COVID-19 plans in place, such as limited flights, restrictive seating and alternative boarding processes. Most are recommending face masks, at minimum, and have enhanced cleaning of surfaces between passengers. Some airports have added additional hand-cleaning stations and offer masks for travelers. 

Bordelon’s top concern for air travelers? Pay attention to all the surfaces you touch during the flight process. 

“Avoid touching surfaces with hands — each touch point is a potential for transmission. Use hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes to clean surfaces you are in contact with, such as seats, hand rests, seat backs and tray tables, along with overhead and lavatory handles. Use automatic doors, and avoid touching the handrails on escalators or railing in trains. If you do need to touch a surface, be sure to hand-sanitize and avoid touching your face. TSA is allowing additional volume for hand sanitizer.  

“Maintain social distancing and wear masks in public; be sure to bring additional masks with you. I feel safe traveling by air domestically but continue to avoid foreign travel at this time. I carry an extra mask and hand sanitizer in my carry-on backpack.”   

Automobile

For shorter trips, or if transmission risks are considered too great for an individual to travel by air, people may consider driving to a destination. If you choose to travel by automobile, consider the steps necessary to your destination, Bordelon says. 

“Everyone has a road distance limit, especially with children. You will need to refuel, stop for food and take bio-breaks. 

“Keep hand sanitizer in your door compartment. This will allow you to quickly access it following a stop. I keep a hand pump sanitizer in each of the driver and passenger car doors for quick access. Keep extra masks in the car just in case.”

For more on this story visit www.uab.edu/news/