Road trips are the way to travel more safely this winter.
Winter season has arrived, with the festive season just around the corner. Before COVID-19, the festive season was looked forward to by everyone. One could meet their loved ones, plan a recreational trip, and much more. The number of festivals that used to occur made the winter season welcoming.
However, as we approach the end of 2020, this winter season looks very different as compared to those in the past. People are practicing social distancing, and there are travel restrictions in several parts of the world. Because of this, people are searching for ways to be able to meet their loved ones, significant others, and ways to spend their holidays with their families.
Two factors are of top concern at present, social distancing and personal hygiene. Most people need to understand the risks of taking different modes of public transportations. From research, most doctors have said that the virus travels not through inanimate objects but through passengers and staff. As there are more chances for this virus to spread in crowded places, people are reconsidering their traveling options. However, traveling during the pandemic has become restricted due to the criterion set below by the WHO.
Are you authorized for traveling?
First of all, you need to have a valid reason for traveling and find out if you are fit for it. WHO has given a detailed travel guideline which elaborates what to do while traveling on public transport and which individuals are fit for traveling?
Elderly individuals with chronic illnesses and those who have been infected by the coronavirus have to postpone or cancel their trips. Similarly, young individuals with underlying conditions should also avoid public transport until the pandemic is over.
Which mode of transport is best to take during the pandemic? It depends on the choice of your destination. Below is a little detail of the pros and cons of traveling by air, train, or road.
Traveling by air
The risk of contracting the virus is high when a person enters the airport. The Centre for Disease Control states on their website that “air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals,” which “can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces.”
Once a passenger enters the plane, practicing social distancing becomes difficult due to congested space, depending on the policies adopted by airline companies. There are chances that airplanes can become crowded, where seating arrangements can become less than the required distance of six feet. Such factors increase the likelihood of getting infected by COVID-19.
According to the CDC, “Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.” The reason behind this is that numerous airplanes are equipped with HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate air), which can remove nearly 99.99 % of aerial particles. This system of protection is very efficient, but it is not flawless. There is still a risk of getting infected by the coronavirus.
Traveling by train
National Railroad Service Amtrak has applied various safety measures to provide a secure travel experience. They have enforced rules to make travelers wear masks, reduced ticket sales on reserved trains so that passengers have enough space for social distancing.
Moreover, Amtrak has heightened not only hygiene protocols but also strictly observes the standard operating procedures. Still, the CDC has advised that “traveling on buses and trains for any length of time can involve sitting or standing within six feet of others.” The risk for contracting COVID-19 is high if social distancing is not adapted.
Traveling by road
Driving your own car has its own perks, but there are circumstances that can be encountered. The CDC warns that “making stops along the way for the gas, food, or bathroom breaks can put you and your traveling companions in close contact with other people and surfaces.”
Traveling in your own vehicle is much safer than using public transport if you are traveling with your relatives or those who have been screened. In the case of rented vehicles, industries such as Avis, Enterprise, and Hertz have promised to heighten their cleaning and distancing procedures.
To help enhance sterilization efforts, carpet cleaning companies offer services for cleaning and servicing automobiles to safeguard the health of their employees and customers.
Which mode of transportation is safer?
Dr. Arnold Barnett, professor of Statistics at the MIT, discovered that on a U.S commercial plane, “the risk of contracting COVID-19 from a nearby passenger is about 1 in 4,300.” In planes with blocked middle seats, “that risk falls to about 1 in 7, 700,” the study states.
He extended his statistical study related to traveling by car and reported to Conde Nast Traveler. “Assuming that the driver and passengers do not have COVID-19, the [highest] mortality risk of a 1,000-mile trip would arise from auto accidents. Assuming that those who would fly are relatively safe drivers, an estimate of the risk tied to U.S. auto deaths per billion miles driven in 2018 would be about one in three million.
That is lower than the COVID-related death risk associated with a 1,000-mile flight, which I estimate as 1 death per 600,000 passengers if the plane is 2/3 full. The huge safety advantage of flying 1,000 miles nonstop rather than driving, pre-COVID, has disappeared as of August 2020.”
Christopher Hendel, assistant research instructor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, has advised people to travel by car if affordable and to be careful while taking breaks during the journey. He has also emphasized wearing masks when taking any mode of transport.
Traveling in this winter season has become more of a challenge for many individuals due to the pandemic. Whatever you choose, do not compromise your health for it. If you feel fatigued or have a runny nose, it is best to stay at home until you are okay.
Whether you choose to travel by car, train, or air, keep following the standard operating procedures. Make sure that you are equipped with hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, face masks, gloves, etc. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe.