What You Need to Travel During Coronavirus
Coronavirus has had a massive impact on the travel industry, and there’s no denying it’s going to change the way we travel—maybe forever. At the time of writing, everything is changing rapidly, but countries are beginning to lift restrictions and slowly but surely people can start to think about traveling again.
So, in this post, we’ve compiled a list of gear to make your coronavirus travel as safe and easy as possible. (It’s better to be prepared, now more than ever.) We’ve focused on air travel, but most of what we cover can apply to travel by train, boat, road trip, or, even everyday life in general.
Note: Regulations and recommendations are constantly changing. We are not medical professionals, so please do not take this as professional medical advice. We recommend that you do your own research and listen to experts in order to keep you (and those around you) healthy.
Without further ado, let’s jump in.
At the time of writing this post, wearing a face mask is mandatory on most airlines, as well as in the airports themselves. For the time being, it’s the new normal—and it looks like face masks are here to stay. Some airlines may provide masks, but we’d strongly recommend picking up your own.
Currently, a lot of gear brands have shifted some production focus to making reusable masks. It seems there is a ton of room for innovation when it comes to style, material, how it secures, etc. and that they will continue to improve as they’re in the public spotlight. We prefer cloth masks since they’re washable, reusable, more robust, and environmentally friendly—and we’ve put together a whole list to help you find one that works for you.
When using your mask, we’ve had luck with cleaning our hands before putting the mask on, before taking it off, and after we take it off also. And try not to touch the front of the mask once it’s on. If you’re in a pinch, you may be able to get away with wearing a buff, but a dedicated face mask—that’s secured over your ears and covers your nose and mouth without any gaps—has a better chance of making sure you’re good to go. Plus it’s comfier, too.
At the time of this post, the Tom Bihn Reusable Cloth Face Masks are available in a few different sizes, colors, and materials, including a larger one that’s good for folks with beards. We've been testing a couple of different masks and have been impressed so far. We like that they have a built-in twist-tie or a metal clamp (depending on the version) so you can pinch around the bridge of your nose for a tighter fit. The newer version also offers some adjustability in the neck and earloops, meaning you can tighten or loosen to get your preferred fit. Plus, that neck and earloop material is soft and stretchy—unlike the scratchy elastic you'll find on some disposal masks.See Details & Buying Options
Limiting your contact and interactions with people and objects as much as possible is one of the best ways to minimize the spread. So if you’re the type of person that’s used to borrowing a pen from your seat neighbor to fill out those immigration forms, it may be a good time to start carrying your own. It’s also just a great idea to have a pen on you whilst traveling anyway—they come in handy more often than not and don’t take up very much space and weight in your pack.
The Fisher Backpacker Space Pen is small and compact so it stays tucked out of the way when not needed. When you're ready to write, you can extend it to the size of a normal pen by clipping the cap onto the back. It even writes underwater, which may sound gimmicky if you’re just using it at an airport, but it does mean you can give this thing a very deep clean. Get it totally soaked with soap and water, and it will still write just fine.See Full Review & Buying Options
Okay, yes, we know—this is not a pen. Stay with us. The Bellroy Travel Folio comes with a mini-pen tucked into a dedicated sleeve in the middle of the wallet. You'll also find this mini-pen in some other Bellroy products, like the Travel Wallet. We like this idea for the sheer practicality. And the intuitive design means you barely notice the pen's even there. While it's not the most comfortable pen to use for hardcore journaling, it works well for filling out customs forms, signing receipts, and the like. So, if you're in the market for a new travel wallet and a pen, this might be worth checking out.See Full Review & Buying Options
It’s important to stay hydrated while traveling. Buying water in the airport, however, can get pretty expensive (not to mention wasteful when you take into consideration all the plastic bottles being used). Now is a better time than ever to do something that not only helps the environment but also your immediate personal health, too. Additionally, in these uncertain times, you may not always be able to buy a bottle of water—airport shops may be closed or you may be trying to avoid crowds of people by not going into them. Either way, we recommend bringing your own water bottle so you can fill it up using a fountain when you’re through security. That way you’ll know exactly where it’s been, and you can be sure that it’s safe to use.
At 20 oz, this is about the biggest standard water bottle we’d recommend for travel. Although, storing a few extra ounces of water is probably a good thing in this case. The wide mouth is easy to clean on the go (as you probably don’t have a bottle brush or dishwasher handy) and the standard lid—instead of one with a straw—keeps the drinking surface protected when not in use. It’s insulated as well, so it keeps your cold drinks cold and your hot drinks hot.See Details & Buying Options
Because of its compressibility, the Vapur Eclipse Watter Bottle is great for travel (even outside of the current situation). It rolls up and packs down super small when not in use. Unrolled, it basically creates a water bag (or bladder) that holds up to a liter of water, depending on the size you get. It can be a little awkward to drink out of at times, due to the lack of structure, but we find it's an easy tradeoff for this thing's packability.See Full Review & Buying Options
A lot of places, such as airports, have installed hand sanitization stations, but it’s still recommended to carry your own. Especially when you’re in a situation where you may not always have access to a sink to wash your hands with soap and water (like traveling). Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to stay safe. And, at the time of posting, the TSA is now allowing you to carry on one bottle of hand sanitizer up to 12 oz (if you can get your hands on some—it’s been notoriously hard to get a hold of recently). Just note that it will need to be screened separately, therefore increasing the time it takes you to get through security.
Now, you can wear gloves if you’d like, but they also get contaminated and can contaminate whatever you touch. The CDC recommends the best way to protect your hands when you’re out and about is to regularly wash them with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The Sanitiser Holder from Orbitkey is a nifty and innovative product that allows you to have your hand sanitizer easily accessible at all times. It comes in three different styles—Retractor, Lanyard, and Clip—and includes a travel-sized plastic bottle that you can fill from a larger hand sanitizer container. Since you don’t have to rummage through your stuff to access it, there’s less chance of cross-contamination, which we certainly appreciate. Better yet, they’re donating all of their profits to charities and organizations battling COVID-19.See Details & Buying Options
We’ve also made our own sprayable hand sanitizer and put the mixture into a 2 oz Amber Glass Spray Bottle. You can fill up one of these bottles from larger containers if/when you have access to them, too. Using a small bottle like this keeps you well under the 3.4oz TSA liquid-allowance for travel, and we've found that making your own mixture can be a great solve if you’re having trouble finding store-bought hand sanitizer.See Details & Buying Options
We imagine you already own a smartphone, so you’ll be happy to hear that it’s one of the best accessories you can use when traveling during coronavirus. It can make your check-ins and transactions faster, easier, and most importantly, safer. Here’s how:
If your airline allows it, you can check-in ahead of time, and have your boarding pass on your phone ready to go. This vastly limits your interaction with other people and it’s one less thing to worry about. Make sure to download and sign-in on the airline's mobile app (if they have one) as you’ll receive any updates from the airline about safety and travel disruptions. You can also use your phone for contactless payments to save your cards or wallet from contamination—and you won’t have to worry about touching cash with your hands.See Details & Buying Options
You can use a smartwatch for almost everything you can use your phone for (like contact-free payments), and you can see notifications without even touching anything as they pop up on your wrist. Watch apps aren’t as all encompassing or as reliable just yet when compared to smartphones, but they’ve come a long way—and they’re a great tool to use if you have one.See Details & Buying Options
When it comes to cleaning your phone screen, we’ve found WHOOSH! spray to be really useful. It comes in a really small spray bottle that is easy to travel with. It’s unclear how well WHOOSH! disinfects, as they seem to dodge that in their marketing copy. So if you're really looking to disinfect, you may want to try something stronger—brands like Apple recommend using a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. If you’re interested in learning more about cleaning your gear, we have a detailed blog post with step-by-step tips, so check that out if you’d like.See Details & Buying Options
The Nikon Microfiber cloth is a great way to spot clean your phone (or glasses if you have them) and it packs down small into its own carrying case, so it’s easy to travel with. Plus, it has a handy clip that makes it easy to attach to your bag, keys, etc. It can be used in combination with spray or on its own.See Details & Buying Options
Airlines have introduced extensive new cleaning policies to disinfect aircraft interiors between flights—like using electrostatic sprayers and bringing in cleaning crews to wipe down cabin surfaces. That being said, it’s still nice to carry around your own disinfecting wipes—if you can find them of course, which is proving to be a little tricky at the moment. If you can, pick up a travel-friendly package that’s not too big. When you sit down in your seat, these things are great for wiping down hard surfaces like the tray table and infotainment screen in front of you—and your phone, as we mentioned earlier.
If you have a larger packet of wipes that isn't travel friendly, you can put some into a small pouch like the Nite Ize RunOff Waterproof Wallet. It's waterproof and airtight—which we can verify through extensive testing—so you don’t have to worry about the disinfecting juices leaking all over your stuff. Plus, the material is easy to clean inside and out. If you're looking to pack more wipes, you can also check out the larger RunOff Waterproof Pocket.See Details & Buying Options
Wearing glasses offers nowhere near the same level of protection as a full PPE face shield does, but they do cover the front of your eyes and can help you to stop touching your face. After all, every little bit helps, and it’s an extra level of protection that isn’t too intrusive. If you wear glasses already, good news—you’re covered! (We have a pair of prescription glasses from Warby Parker, which we’re digging.) If not, you can wear your sunglasses, but all things considered, that’s not overly practical inside an airport. You can also opt for blue light glasses. We’ve been interested in the benefits of blue light glasses for a little while now, and although the jury is still out on just how great they are, they are a good solve for this particular problem. And if they help with screen glare and eye strain from electronic devices, then all the better.
The folks at Felix Gray specialize in making lenses that filter blue light. These lenses also boast the ability to eliminate glare and enhance the color of your screen. While we've been testing them, it's hard to tell how much the blue light filtering is actually working. That said, we're digging the simple aesthetic of the Nash Glasses—though there are several styles you can choose from. And, if you're in the market for glasses to actually see with, you can get them as prescription too.See Details & Buying Options
At the time of writing, lots of airlines are only running a limited food service on their flights. And restaurants and shops inside the terminal may not always be open. You may also not want to get food as that means standing in a line, or walking into a busy shop, and being around a crowd of people. However, we all get hungry during travel, so we’d recommending preparing your own snacks.
If you want that real airline feel, you can bring along some pretzels or cookies. We generally recommend avoiding bringing peanuts because some travelers may have deadly peanut allergies (which is why they’re not served on every flight). Whatever you do decide on, we recommend something with a longer shelf life—while fresh fruits and veggies might be better for you, they don’t always travel well.
They may not always run a drinks service on a flight, or it may be hard to find an open coffee shop at the airport, so if you need your caffeine fix, it’s best to come prepared. These Starbucks VIA Instant Iced Coffee packets mix with cold water—which is much easier to find at the ready than piping hot water—to give you iced coffee on the go.See Details & Buying Options
You can store just about anything in these bags—crackers, chips, a sandwich, whatever. Plus, they’re reusable, easy to clean, and good for the environment too. You can also store your face mask in a dedicated Stasher Bag to keep it (and any possible contamination) away from your other gear in between uses.See Full Review & Buying Options
We’ve also had great success with the humangear GoTubb containers for carrying trail mix, dried fruit, and other snacks of the like. They're easy to open one-handed and available in three different sizes—which makes them great for storing a lot more than just snacks.See Full Review & Buying Options
At the time of posting, Emirates Airlines is limiting carry-on luggage and other airlines could follow suit. We’re big advocates of carry-on travel, but it’s a great idea to pack up a sling with all of your in-flight essentials—phone, passport, wallet, hand sanitizer, headphones—so you can check-in your carry-on effortlessly if you are required to do so by the airline. Even if you can carry-on your pack, it’s a good idea to use a sling as a personal item anyway. You can keep your pockets empty to help breeze through security faster. Once onboard, you can keep it in the seat pocket in front of you so you don’t have to get anything from the overhead bins, as staying in your seat and limiting your movement around the cabin as much as possible is highly recommended.
The WANDRD D1 Fanny is a nice size for your passport, wallet, phone, etc. The material on the exterior is highly weather-resistant (which is less porous than some fabric on other slings) making it easy to clean if you need to disinfect it with a wipe or spray. And, it has large loops on each side which make it easy to hang up to keep away from unclean surfaces. Of course, the style, carry, and size of the sling you need will depend on your preferences (you'll need a larger sling if you’re planning on carrying something like a tablet, for example). So, we recommend taking a look at our Sling Bag Guide, to help you find one that works for you.See Full Review & Buying Options
This hybrid carabiner clip allows you to hang up your sling bag or other items, as opposed to placing them on the gross floor. We’ve talked in the past about how great a Heroclip is at an airport, namely in an airport bathroom—where you really don’t want to put your bag down. It’s a simple and innovative product, and now more than ever does it make sense to use one. You can also just use it as a carabiner clip to hang something on your bag if you’d like. We’ve done a full review on it, so make sure to check that out if you’re interested in more details. This hybrid carabiner clip allows you to hang up your sling bag or other items, as opposed to placing them on the gross floor. We’ve talked in the past about how great a Heroclip is at an airport, namely in an airport bathroom—where you really don’t want to put your bag down. Use the hook to hang your bag off the stall door or a table in the food court (which works well thanks to the rubber pad on the end of the hook). Or use it as a standard carabiner to attach extra gear to the outside of your bag. It’s a simple and innovative product, and now more than ever does it make sense to use one.See Full Review & Buying Options
So there you have it—some travel accessories and tips for traveling during coronavirus. If you’re looking for everything else to pack, check out some of our packing lists and gear reviews. And, again, regulations and recommendations are constantly changing so make sure to do some research before traveling and listen to the medical experts. We wish you safe travels!