Traveling by road or air? Which is safer? Morning Express with Robin Meade

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Driving – is it safer?It has been predicted that a lot of Americans will choose to drive in the coming months for travel. Driving will give you a greater sense of control over your surroundings, and you can choose who you travel with.


If you’re able to keep a safe, six-foot social distance from others in rest areas, wear a mask, and practice good hygiene, there is little risk since the coronavirus is thought to be mainly transmitted directly from person-to-person. In fact, medical experts are now more comfortable saying that the chances of catching the coronavirus from a surface remain quite low among those practicing common precautions.

Try to avoid stopping at a very crowded rest stop, but don’t fear the public restroom. If it’s not too crowded, it shouldn’t impose much risk but I still wouldn’t touch a toilet and then touch my face. Unless these surfaces are recently sneezed on, you should be ok.

At some point, you will either need to fill your gas tank or charge your electric vehicle’s battery, and most gas pump handles or EV public chargers are pretty gross. Health officials recommend using disposable gloves while pumping your gas, rather than trying to wipe it down with a disinfecting wet wipe.

What about flying?

Traveling by airplane is arguably a higher risk than traveling by car with your family. If you do fly, keep in mind that international travel is much riskier this summer than domestic travel (even though some countries like Greece are opening up to American travelers).

At the same time, you can take comfort that air circulation systems on planes are quite good. They have high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters and high rates of air exchange, but that still doesn’t protect you from what is happening immediately around you. Air carriers are also taking measures to help ensure the safety of passengers and flight crews, and most if not all airlines have already begun implementing more intense safety and cleaning procedures.

But keep in mind that one of the biggest risks of flying is that it’s hard to predict how full a flight might be or how much you’ll be able to socially distance from other passengers and employees, even as airlines make efforts to minimize close contact. Eating and drinking on a plane presents its own challenges – the more you’re around unmasked people with uncovered noses and mouths, the riskier it gets. So maybe you keep your mask on and limit taking it off (obviously you don’t want to get dehydrated)

If you do choose to fly, be mindful of your entire environment. Keep the recommended six feet of social distance whenever possible, wash or sanitize your hands frequently and sanitize surfaces that others may have touched. Using electronic check-in apps and packing your own food will help reduce face-to-face contact. 

Ultimately while it may seem like doing a road trip will inherently keep you safe of exposing yourself to the virus, it really all comes down to what you do while you’re traveling and how consciously you do it.

Travel insurance in the time of COVID?

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1. What are the benefits of travel insurance?
It can seriously help cover losses for non-refundable, pre-paid expenses and add peace of mind to trip planning. And that doesn’t just apply to flights, it applies to road trips too. While travel has always been unpredictable to a degree, the Covid-19 outbreak and imposed travel bans have shown a lot of Americans how much unexpected events can affect their travel plans. This seems to make a significant difference to how they consider to insure future holidays. It has been predicted that a lot of Americans will choose to drive in the coming months for travel, so it’s worth noting that travel insurance may reimburse you for covered losses faced on the road too such as trip cancellations or interruptions due to hurricanes and other weather-related events, to injuries or illness.

2. How much does it typically cost and what does it typically cover?
Depending on the coverage you choose it can cover rental cars, vacation rentals, break downs, trip cancellations and interruptions, and a BIG one right now – medical coverage and 24/7 assistance. Keep in mind there are a number of factors that can adjust the price of your insurance such as the age of traveler, trip expenses (a policy’s price is based on your nonrefundable of prepaid travel expenses so calculate all of the costs you’ll incur before your departure when searching for a policy, plan selection,) the number of travelers and the destination. Insurance companies also consider the accessibility to medical facilities and the crime rates of your destination when determining a price. For example, if you were a single, healthy 30 year old male traveling to Colorado this summer for 2 weeks you could be looking at a rate of anywhere between $100 and $200 – using an insurance calculator from Allianz.com.

3. Can you get your money back at all even if you don’t have insurance and your vacation gets canceled?
If it is going to depend on the circumstances of your trip being canceled and the travel providers you have booked with – which airlines, hotels etc as they all have their own policies which you should read up on before you book. The benefit of taking out cancellation insurance is that – on your end – if you’re unable to take a trip due to an unforeseeable event, a trip cancellation policy will reimburse you for your prepaid, forfeited and non-refundable costs of your trip. 


4. And any travel tips to keep safe on the road?

Do it with those you live with – even if you’re thinking about a very long drive with visits to rest stops along the way and overnight hotel stays, you’re pretty safe if you plan to do it with those you live with.

Keep your distance – If you’re able to keep a safe, six-foot social distance from others in rest areas, wear a mask, and practice good hygiene, there is little risk since the coronavirus is thought to be mainly transmitted directly from person-to-person. In fact, medical experts are now more comfortable saying that the chances of catching the coronavirus from a surface remain quite low among those practicing common precautions.

Practice rest stop etiquette – Try to avoid stopping at a very crowded rest stop, but don’t fear the public restroom. If it’s not too crowded, it shouldn’t impose much risk but I still wouldn’t touch a toilet and then touch my face. Unless these surfaces are recently sneezed on, you should be ok.


And what about hotels? Staying overnight in a hotel is also a low-risk activity for members of the same household as again it seems like the risk of getting infected from touching surfaces is pretty low. The majority of hotels have been going overboard lately with cleaning and disinfecting as well –  making the chance of touching a contaminated surface really slim.

What should I bring?—driver’s license, registration, insurance—as well as health-insurance cards – as an extra precaution. It’s also wise to bring face coverings, gloves, disinfecting wipes, and cleaning supplies.

Can we travel this summer?

Now that the weather is warming up and Covid-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders are lifting across the country, many people are antsy to get out there and travel after a brutal cooped-up spring. And while hitting the road or skies may be a good idea for both the economy and the country’s collective mental health, it’s not risk free in terms of the pandemic. So it’s more important than ever to keep safety in mind every step of the way. 

International Travel ; should we be ruling it out  this summer?

 Although most governments are still advising against “nonessential” international travel, a bunch of popular destinations are beginning to move toward welcoming tourists back. Earlier this month, the European Union unveiled an action plan to reopen its internal borders in time for summer, while countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have formed “travel bubbles,” lifting restrictions for each other’s citizens.

Cyprus, for example, is so keen to get its tourism industry back on track, officials are offering to cover the costs of any travelers who test positive for Covid-19 while on vacation in the Mediterranean island nation – we’re talking lodging, food, drink and medication for tourists who are taken ill with coronavirus during their visit. Officials have also earmarked a 100-bed hospital for foreign travelers who test positive, while a 500-room “quarantine hotel” will be available to patients’ family and “close contacts.

And Greece where tourism accounts for almost 20% of its gross domestic product, as well as one in five jobs, is angling to reopen to tourists as soon as it possibly can. The European country, which managed to keep its coronavirus case numbers low by implementing a strict lockdown early on, plans to allow travelers back in on June 15. The tourism period begins on June 15, when seasonal hotels can reopen. International flights to Greek destinations will slowly resume from July 1, and tourists will no longer be expected to take a Covid-19 test or go into quarantine on arrival – however it has been indicated that health officials will conduct spot tests when necessary.

France however is taking a more community based approach by encouraging toursim but only within their country for now. France was the most visited country in the world before the coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe recently announced a $19.4 billion stimulus package to boost its ailing tourism sector but it does seem like the priority for now is on French residents taking holidays within France during the peak times of July and August, as all signs suggest international travelers will not be able to enter for the foreseeable future.

Ultimately there will be plenty of internatinal destinations opening borders as we hit end of June into July – but you need to do your research and take precautions.

What about domestic travel?

Right now states are in flux in terms of things opening up, and as such we don’t know exactly what summer travel will look like, but one thing is certain – you can expect change. Some countries and U.S. states have already begun relaxing their stay-at-home orders, while others are extending their lockdowns by weeks.

Rental houses will be on the rise. This is a a good option because you can clean the rental  when you arrive and then you have full control. Some rental companies like Airbnb have rolled out stricter cleaning protocols to ensure the safety of both guests and hosts, so be sure to read up on your rental company of choice’s policy.  It is likely that rentals will out perform hotels in the near-term as travelers attempt to avoid interactions with strangers, so if you have a domestic destination in mind, plan ahead and do your research.

As for driving versus flying, traveling by airplane is much higher risk than traveling by car with your family.  If you do fly, again keep in mind that international travel is much riskier this summer than domestic travel. Wear your mask, bring your own food and drinks, wear gloves in the bathroom, avoid sitting close to someone, wash or sanitize your hands as much as you can and be mindful of your entire environment. You might also want to consider taking out travel insurance or protection plans in case you get sick abroad. 

Look at destinations that are spread out, not densely populated like a city. This goes hand in hand with taking a community based approach; the deal is that once you are comfortable within your own community, you can decide what is most critical for you as you travel farther from home. And when you do travel consider who you are traveling with and who you are traveling to. Maybe planning a trip to see family should be a priority this summer versus going on a city break.

Make sure you also plan ahead of time. Have a strategy; think about exactly where you’re planning to go, exactly how you’re planning to get there, and what exactly you will do once you arrive. Because all 50 states are reopening at different rates, be sure to factor that information into your choices.

Health Passports? Is this a real option?

European countries may be implementing “health passports” which would determine whether a traveler can enter a foreign country depending on their virus history. But what would the ramifications of that mean for the future of travel post-virus? I dig deeper and try to answer some of the questions surrounding this…..

What might an implementation of this new policy look like? Maybe we see a trial run in countries like Greece and Italy before other countries adopt a similar policy?

Essentially it would involve creating a ‘digital certificate’ using facial biometrics to prove who has had Covid-19. While this could obviously could be applied to leisure and business travel, ultimately it could also help test workers to ease the impact on the economy and businesses from ongoing physical distancing. We know that in the UK tech firms are already in talks with ministers about creating these so called health passports, AND summer hotspots like Sardinia, Turkey and Greece are all looking at introducing them for tourists. Now, tourists would be required to produce a document showing theyv’e tested negative for Covid-19 within a week of their arrival. In fact, the European Union tourism ministers are already said to be discussing the possibility of a bloc-wide “Covid-19 passport.”

What does this mean for the future of travel and tourism – Will it help or hinder it?

In areas that could be severly affected by the upcomoing summer tourism season, yes of course this could help. However many are sceptical to what extent this would be 100% safe at this current stage. The World Health Organisation has warned against the idea, stressing that there is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19, and have antibodies, are 100% protected from a second infection. The fear would be that this could actually increase the spread of the virus even more. This could change obviosuly, as new reserach emerges, but it could also be premature. Like anything with this virus, it’s all about timing.

Is it realistic? Surely this would require hundreds of thousands of virus tests per week, possible doctor involvement and, on top of that, it’s just another form of documentation travelers have to remember to bring with them to the airport.

The reality is that people are going to start to travel again and when they do there is going to have to be safety measures in place. Whether or not health passports take off, flights in the future are likely to see us undergo health checks before departure and upon arrival. I also think people are going to find ways to protect themselves better when traveling as well. I see more business and consumer travelers joining health and safety programs like Medjet, an air medical transport and travel security membership, that if a traveler is hospitalized while traveling, gets sick or injured, will organize transportation to a home country hospital of their choice for in-patient care. In general people are going to be more conscious of wellness and travel, and as long as its safe,  anything that puts them at ease will help.