The warm weather has arrived and people of all ages are hoping to get out of their homes and do some traveling. But, before you pack your bags and set out on a vacation, you need to consider how to stay safe when traveling during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is true for both the caregivers who will be traveling with Medicare recipients and for all of those individuals with health issues that are traveling alone.
The current threat of infection from the coronavirus is still valid. This threat continues to be a health risk for seniors and anyone with mobility issues or an underlying health condition. While some locations are easing their travel restrictions, other locations are imposing new state unique restrictions.
Travel advisories from the Federal Highway Administration are continually being updated as states report their daily increases and decreases of confirmed new virus cases. You can visit their website to get the latest information on the locations you will traveling to or through during your trip.
You may find the following information helpful when planning your summer adventures.
Where to Travel
Check with your primary healthcare professional to ensure you are healthy enough to travel long distances. Medicare recipients should check their insurance policies to see if their Medicare coverage will be in effect wherever they are going. If you are in a location where your Medicare coverage is not valid, you will be responsible for all of the costs.
To reduce your risk of exposure to the coronavirus, continue to check on the travel conditions in the states along your travel route. You will need to know if you have to self-quarantine for 2 weeks at your final destination if you are coming from or going to an area with a high level of confirmed virus cases. This self-quarantine may also apply in your home state when you return from your trip.
If you will be staying in a hotel, call ahead to make sure your reservation is still valid as some hotels have closed due to rising cases of the virus. If the hotel is open, be sure to ask about their housekeeping routines. You may want to use your own supplies to clean and sanitize frequently touched surfaces in yourself to reduce the number of people who will have access to your room.
Take advantage of outdoor activities where it is easier to maintain social distancing. If you have mobility problems, check to see if the scenic location has disability access or ramps to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs.
How to Travel
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees that airplanes, buses, and trains (methods of mass transportation with confined spaces and poor air ventilation) are prime environments for spreading the Covid-19. Avoiding respiratory droplets while social distancing is not possible in these enclosed spaces. Cruise ships have also been shown to be places where the virus can spread quickly. Your personal vehicle is the one method of transportation where you have the most control over sanitizing the surfaces so that you can travel in a germ-free, secure, and comfortable environment.
When stopping at service stations for gasoline, plan to wear latex gloves when handling the gas pump and use a credit or debit card that minimize personal interaction with an attendant. You can dispose of the gloves in a trash can when you are finished pumping and you can clean a plastic card with a hand wipe.
Wear a face mask when using a public restroom where all types of germs are present. Be sure to wash your hands before leaving the restroom and avoid touching the faucets and doorknobs after washing by using a paper towel to turn the water off and to turn the doorknob.
Bring some snacks and bottled water if you are traveling with someone who needs to take medication during the day. This will help someone stay on their routines if you come to any areas where restaurants may still be closed.
Carry a supply of disposable face masks, disinfectant wipes, latex gloves, and plastic zip lock bags for trash while you are traveling.
What to Pack
Make a list of all your doctors and their contact information, all medications you take, and when you need to take the prescriptions. Give a copy of this list to your caregiver in case you need help following your routine. Refill your prescription drugs and over-the-counter first-aid supplies before you leave to ensure you have what you will need while you are away. Pack all your medications in zip lock bags to keep everything in one place.
Make sure there is room in your vehicle for necessary medical equipment such as a CPAP machine, a Nebulizer, braces, a walker, or a wheelchair. If you need to take larger equipment such as an oxygen replenishing machine, you might want to consider renting a larger vehicle for the trip so that you can ride in comfort and safety.
Remember Good Hygiene and Safety Precautions
No matter where you are or what you are doing, always remember to take the time to follow the CDC guidelines for personal hygiene and safety precautions. At a minimum, wear a face mask when out in public, wear latex gloves when touching surfaces and foreign objects, wash your hands after every trip to the restroom and frequently throughout the day with soap and warm water for 20 seconds or with disinfectant wipes, avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose, and maintain social distancing whenever possible.
When you use these bits of helpful information you will have a wonderful trip and can come home in good health with fond memories.