April 17, 2024


Health know-how

Staying safe while traveling for the holidays


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It’s that time of year again! The holiday season is here, and if you are preparing to travel, whether by land or air, you’ll want to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.

“Nowadays you have to plan it like months ahead – a lot more preparation has to go into place make sure you have extra masks in your bags, extra sanitizer, stuff like that,” said traveler Lale Taulapapa. “But besides that I’m just ready to go have a vacation.”

Medical experts say the key to holiday travel this year is to be mindful. That includes getting vaccinated against the coronavirus while continuing to wear masks indoors and in public spaces.

“Clean the high touch surfaces – the armrests, that little button that makes the seat go back and forth, the meal tray,” said Paul Pottinger, M.D., Infectious Diseases, UW School of Medicine. “These should be cleaned with a standard cleaning wipe. I don’t think that’s enough – you still have to cover your face with a mask, but it’s a good idea on any public transportation.  Do it, don’t be embarrassed do it, and bring an extra set for the person next to you so they don’t feel embarrassed about it either.”

Another big key to staying healthy is communication.

“Talk to your family that you are going to visit and make sure that they are well and that they want you there,” said Dr. Pottinger. “You may have someone who is immunosuppressed who says ‘you know what I could take a break from Thanksgiving this year,’ so I think having those conversations (and) making sure that everybody is immunized, and that everyone is willing to call if off if someone is symptomatic.”

Travelers we spoke with at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are feeling confident about their plans.

“We’re going to be going down to Florida, staying there for like two days, and then we’re going to be making sure that we take another rapid test there – make sure we’re ok, ready to board and everybody has to be vaccinated before they get on the boat,” said Taulapapa.

“It can be safe to travel this holiday season if people do it thoughtfully,” said Dr. Pottinger.


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