Travel during the coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus
The Grand Princess docked in Oakland after days of being kept at sea due to concerns over coronavirus cases onboard. (Noah Berger/AP)

The Grand Princess docked in Oakland after days of being kept at sea due to concerns over coronavirus cases onboard. (Noah Berger/AP)

What you need to know if you must go

(WGNO) – Events are canceled, schools are closed and people are practicing social distancing. But if you must travel during this time, there are actions you should take for a safe, healthy and smooth journey. Here are five tips from our Travel Girl, Stephanie Oswald:

  1. PLAN FOR MORE TRAVEL TIME: There’s no telling what type of delays will happen as airlines, airports and all businesses associated with the travel industry brace for the continuing challenges of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and US Customs and Border Protection are providing screening and briefings to travelers from China at their points of entry into the United States. There are currently 11 U.S. airports with quarantine stations. At this time, no screening for COVID-19 is taking place at MSY.
  2. CONFIRM YOUR PLANS MULTIPLE TIMES: Across the country, sports fields are empty, Broadway is shutdown and Disney vacations are on hold. While tour operators and other organizations are trying to get the word out, the numbers are so overwhelming, you may not get a personal message. Bottom line: Don’t assume that something is happening just because you haven’t heard that it’s canceled. Tip: Social media accounts can be especially helpful and are often the most current source of info during a crisis.
  3. PLANES AND CRUISES ARE SHIFTING GEARS: Most airlines have updated guidelines regarding travel to and from Europe and flight flexibility in general, including waived change fees. However, every airline is different, so you should consult your carrier’s website for details. Same goes for the cruise lines. Major cruise lines are suspending cruises to and from U.S. ports for 30 days. Travelers who don’t have online access and prefer calling should expect lengthy hold times. Delta has this alert on its website: “To help address customers with immediate travel needs, we are asking those who do not have travel in the next 72 hours to refrain from contacting us as we are experiencing high volume. Thank you for your patience and partnership as we work through this unprecedented situation.” Another place to go for current travel info and guidance is the U.S. Department of State website.
  4. PACK WIPES, HAND SANITIZER AND SNACKS: Don’t wear a mask, unless you are sick yourself. However, what you should pack are plenty of antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer (with at least 60 percent alcohol) and tissues. Wipe down any area you come into contact with while traveling: from the plane seat to the pole you hold onto on the subway, to the bathroom stalls in the airport or bus station. It bears repeating: Wash your hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Bring snacks along since food service is inconsistent and restaurants along your route may be closed or extremely limited.
  5. BRING EXTRA DOCUMENTATION AND MEDICATION: It’s always wise to have extra identification on you, but during this national crisis, be certain to have multiple forms of ID, plus proof that you are healthy (such as a doctor’s note), if you are showing any signs that could be questionable. For example, if you have prescription medication in your carry-on, you should bring the paperwork that comes with it to indicate what you are being treated for. If you are traveling with an elderly person, monitor them and be sure they have what they need. Be prepared for travel delays. Since this is unprecedented, it makes sense to bring along extra medication, contact lenses and anything critical that you might run out of, if you were faced with extending your stay at your destination.

If you have a question for our Travel Girl, e-mail it to “travelgirl@wgno.com”

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