Africa - 16th Nov 2020

Tired of looking at the same 4 walls every day, Netflix & chilling or waking up to go sleep on the couch? If your answer is Yes, the feeling is mutual with over 40 Million people across the globe. After months of lockdown Kenyans are ready to go out and explore the country especially during the holidays– revenge travel so to speak. However, exciting as this might sound, the questions still lingers as to whether it would be safe to travel at this time

There are a number of restrictions such as the curfew that are currently in place to ensure safety of Kenyans. Travel has slowly resumed and people have gradually started to stretch their legs within the borders. Internationally, some countries like Tanzania and Dubai have already opened their borders to guests

In a recent poll by International Air Transport Association (IATA) respondents said that queuing at check-in/security/border control or boarding worried 42% of travelers, and 38% were concerned about using airport restrooms/toilet facilities. Once on board the aircraft, 65% were concerned about sitting next to someone who might be infected with the virus, using restrooms/toilet facilities on board the plane worried 42%, and 37% were concerned about breathing the air on the plane.
The million-dollar question still looms- how do I travel without endangering my health or anyone else’s?

Here are a few pointers to help you stay as safe as possible:

Conquering the Fear:
‘Airplanes are a petri dish with passengers crammed in a small space’
If all passengers follow the World Health Organization guidelines the risk of transmission is significantly reduced. The air quality on an airplane is good because high amounts of clean outdoor air and all recirculated air passes through a HEPA filter.
Airports and airlines are trying to minimize the risks of contagions in their often-crowded environments such as check-in desks, security and boarding. Intensive cleaning is now the norm; planes are now being fogged with electrostatic disinfectant that sticks to surfaces like seatbelts. International airlines are even providing wipes and you can carry sanitizer on board the aircraft.
Wearing the appropriate face mask will be compulsory in order to board a flight. Airline attendants will be checking for fevers / high body temperatures and they won’t let you fly with a temperature above 37°C.
Internationally, some destinations require proof of a negative COVID-19 test while other destinations such as Lebanon test passengers on arrival. Majority of the international destinations have a mandatory 14-day quarantines be needed for travel.

‘National parks and Hiking areas are overcrowded’
There are countless health benefits to being outside in nature, and the risks are low and manageable as long as you maintain the 1.5-meter distance. Most places especially those that offer hiking have a limit on the number of visitors and other rules such as mask-wearing at all times. Carry sanitizer and rest assured that most vehicles in the parks have masks and sanitizers on-board for clients.

‘The beach is full of people and crawling with germs’
Beach vacations are very popular and the beaches have been like ghost towns over the last few months. When and if you choose to go to the beach ensure to keep the recommended distance of 1.5-meters between you and anyone else on the beach. Carry your sunscreen and of course your sanitizer. Enjoy a dip in the ocean after all there is no evidence you can catch COVID-19 from the water.

‘Hotels are breeding grounds for virus’
Hotels and rental properties are cleaned according to public health guidelines with Airbnb’s having an enhanced initiative that includes a 24- to 72-hour vacancy period between guests. High-touch surfaces in hotels are given extra cleaning and hand washing / sanitizing stations are present all around the major properties.
Avoid elevators if you can take the stairs, its good exercise. Go for a swim if the pool isn’t crowded; standard pool cleaning kills viruses, so the pool is probably safe.

‘Public Washrooms are virus prone’
Ensure to keep your distance from other washroom users. Good hygiene is also paramount when you visit the restroom; make sure you wash your hands and try to avoid using a hand drier if possible use hand towels instead. If there’s no soap, use hand sanitizer.

Remember that the virus is only spread through human contact. We therefore need to ensure that while we are away from the safety of our own homes, we are still practicing social distancing, wearing protective equipment such as masks and washing our hands regularly.
Other key prevention measures, outlined by the World Health Organization include: coughing and sneezing into your elbow, avoiding touching your face, disinfecting frequently touched items like your phone, and staying home if you’re sick. Practicing these measures keeps you—and everyone else—safer, regardless of how far you roam.
Travel and vacations are possible and you are guaranteed to have a good time if you adhere to the precautionary measures. Traveling gives you peace of mind and contributes to your mental health.