|We're living in a scary and unfamiliar time. There are many people who haven't seen their family members and friends in weeks. Millions of people are struggling to find their new normal while working from home. And for some, staying home isn't an option.
If you're someone who has to travel for work or has an emergency situation that forces you to venture out, preparation is key. Here are some considerations for urgent travels during social distancing, and how to protect your mental health while traveling.
Please note: This article does not contain healthcare or therapeutic advice. If you are concerned about your health or well-being, speak with a health professional or visit your nearest medical facility in an emergency. This is a guest article and contains affiliate links.
What Does Urgent Travel Mean?
Urgent travel means different things depending on where you are in the world and how your government is enforcing social distancing. Generally speaking, there are two situations in which travel might be urgent or necessary.
If you work away and don't have the option of working from home, you may be required to continue commuting over long distances. This is the case for many Canadians who live on the East Coast and work in the oil industry in the Western provinces. There have also been medical professionals traveling to fill personnel gaps in high-risk areas.
Another reason for urgent travel might be to care for a loved one who is high-risk or is physically unable to get supplies.
Wearing Masks and Gloves
The general consensus around the world is that medical grade gloves and masks should be left on shelves for front line workers. However, wearing a homemade mask can help protect others while venturing out. This is an important consideration, as transmission can happen when the carrier is asymptomatic.
If you wear gloves, know that you can still transfer the virus between surfaces. Pull your gloves off so that they turn inside out and dispose of them in a garbage can— not on the ground.
Reassurance from Businesses
You have a basic human right to ask travel-related businesses what they're doing to protect their customers. Fortunately, many travel companies are being transparent and posting their procedures online. For example, Globe Car & Truck Rental has a banner posted on their homepage outlining the details of the disinfection process and rental process to protect customers and staff. Airlines are also posting images of their disinfectant protocols.
If you're in doubt, call the business and ask what they're doing. Don't hesitate to bring your own wipes and give surfaces a cleaning to help you feel more comfortable and less anxious.
Proper Hygiene Trumps All
While disinfectant wipes and spray can help, they don't mitigate the need for proper hygiene. Health authorities around the world are still saying that proper hand washing is more effective in reducing the spread.
Choose a 20-second song to sing while washing your hands and following the CDC guidelines. Use a paper towel to turn off taps and open doors after washing. When you arrive at your destination after traveling, consider bagging your clothes or transferring them directly to the laundry. It's also worthwhile to have a hot shower to relieve any anxiety and stress about transmissions.
Reach Out About Your Fears
Even if you've rarely had issues with anxiety or mental health, it's not uncommon to feel a range of emotions while traveling during this time. The lack of socialization, general sense of fear, and the sight of people walking around in hazmat suits can cause deep emotional stress.
Be open about your experience and reach out to talk to a trusted friend or loved one. Discuss how you feel and how your experience has affected you. Give yourself permission to take a break and unplug from social media and the news updates while practicing self-care.
If you have to travel during this time of social distancing, be safe and be well.
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