We are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is still summer and before it’s over maybe you’re trying to plan some kind of vacation. That is extra challenging right now, especially for those that are older or those with underlying health conditions.
We talked with 9Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli and Dr. Robert Morris, Chief Medical Officer for Well-Advised. 9Health has partnered with Well-Advised, a free, unbiased, online tool to help individuals determine their optimal Medicare plan.
Kohli and Morris shared recommendations and tips for traveling this summer during the pandemic.
When it comes to planning a trip, both Kohli and Morris said it’s all about where, how, and who.
“I ask myself three questions. The first is where are you going, the second is how are you going to go, and then who are you going with?” Said Kohli.
For where, Kholi said to make sure you aren’t traveling to a place with COVID-19 activity that’s going up. Try as much as you can to find something to do within your local community or if you are traveling farther, then go to a state where the COVID-19 cases are going down or are better controlled.
For how, both Morris and Kohli advised driving over flying, “Personally, I would not fly anywhere at the moment,” Morris said.
“If you’re sitting on a plane for several hours that’s certainly much higher risk than driving in a car with your family or friends, where you’re not stopping a lot along the way,” Kohli added, suggesting short car trips of a few hours or less so you don’t need to stop often. ”Flying is not a risk worth taking at this time because you’re sitting in an enclosed environment for extended periods of time,” she added.
For who, Kohli and Morris said it’s best to only travel with your family or those you are close with and already see often.
If you do have to travel somewhere by plane and stay in a hotel, Kohli shared these tips:
Traveling by plane?
- Data shows that it’s better to sit in a window seat than an aisle because you are less likely to have contact with people walking by
- Try as best as you can to keep your mask on – try to avoid having snacks or drinks
- Wipe down everything that you’re touching with sanitizing wipes – things like the seat button, tv control, headrest, seatbelt
- If traveling by plane or car, for public restrooms – try to touch surfaces only using tissue paper or toilet paper, use paper towels, and not the hand dryer which can aerosolize droplets
Staying in a hotel?
- Request a room where someone hasn’t stayed for a few days if possible
- Decline housekeeping to eliminate a stranger coming into your room
- Wipe everything in the room with sanitizing wipes – things like the remote, lamps, other high touch surfaces
- Always wear a mask in public spaces
Some additional things to consider before going anywhere, your health insurance coverage and medications, especially if you are elderly or have an ongoing condition, “If you do travel out of state, just think about your Medicare coverage, think about your health insurance and whether you’re going to be covered in that state,” said Morris.
“Even if you’re just going for a 2-3 day trip, take at least a 2-3 week supply of any medications – you may end up getting quarantined or something unexpected could happen,” added Kohli.
When considering a vacation before summer ends, both experts said the safest thing would be to travel by car, not go far, and only go with your family, or those in your quarantine bubble whose activity you’re aware of.
If you do need help navigating your Medicare or health insurance coverage before going on a trip, check out Well-Advised. 9Health has partnered with Well-Advised and they have a free online tool to help you find the right plan. Visit their website for more.
If you have a health question you can talk to a medical professional through our 9Health Neighbors Program by calling 303-698-4455, ext. 2005. Leave a message and a 9Health Medical Volunteer will call you back within 24 hours
You can also now get preventive screenings and a COVID-19 antibody test through 9Health Fair at Quest Diagnostics Patient Service Centers. Click here to find out more and purchase the screenings you would like.
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