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.