Traveling in the time of COVID-19?
In addition to frequent hand washing and social distancing, you’ll need a face mask to help protect yourself and others from the virus.
Airlines, train services and ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft are requiring travelers to securely cover their mouth and nose while many destinations are mandating the use of masks indoors and in outdoor public spaces where physical distancing isn’t feasible.
With the advice of medical experts, the U.S. Travel Association has stated that mask usage is among the biggest keys to a safe and speedy recovery for the travel and tourism industry.
“The travel community strongly urges visitors and residents alike to wear masks and adhere to all healthy practices, such as physical distancing, frequent hand washing and remaining home if sick—no matter where you may be traveling in the country,” U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement.
There are a variety of different masks to choose from, including lightweight and disposable surgical masks, N95 respirator masks that filter out both large and small particles and convenient cloth masks, which can include a simple scarf or bandanna.
The most important thing to remember is that, when worn properly, all of these options work to trap potentially harmful droplets that are released when you talk, cough or sneeze. But each has its own benefits.
For example, surgical masks tend to be less heavy or bulky compared to cotton or other types of cloth and thus better for wearing over long periods such as a flight while cloth masks can be properly cleaned and therefore reused.
There’s no shortage of places where travelers can purchase face masks, from their local drug store to Amazon.com and even personal protective equipment (PPE) vending machines popping up in airports across the country. Travelers can even make their own masks at home as the CDC has published a helpful tutorial for those seeking a quick and affordable option.
With face-coverings becoming the new normal, many popular brands are even selling fashionable masks that allow wearers to showcase their favorite colors and patterns, share positive messages and even represent their favorite sports teams.
Regardless of which you choose, once you have your mask it’s imperative that you wear it correctly, covering up both your nose and mouth securely so droplets aren’t escaping around the top, bottom or sides. Always wash or sanitize your hands before and after putting on and taking off your mask and avoid touching your mask while it’s on your face. If your mask is reusable, you can put it into a sealed bag until you’re able to wash it again.
The Mayo Clinic recommends starting slow by wearing your mask around the house or on short walks outside so that you can get more comfortable, especially if you’re preparing for a long-haul flight or an extended layover spent inside of the airport.
Unless outdoors and away from other people who aren’t members of your household or in a private space such as a hotel room or a rental car, you should be sure to wear your mask to ensure you’re doing your part to protect your fellow travelers and slow the spread.
We don’t know what’s going to happen in the world in 2021 and beyond, but one thing’s for sure – we’ll be wearing face masks for travel for a long while yet!
Thanks to COVID-19, to get on any form of public transport these days, the law in most countries now dictates that you have to wear a face covering. Governments across the world have introduced compulsory mask-wearing (in some cases, even when outside) and airlines have made masks mandatory for all passengers.
What’s important to look for in a mask for flying?
First things first, check your airline’s guidelines – If you are planning to fly, make sure you read the airlines’ guidelines when it comes to which face covering they allow on their airplanes. For example, Lufthansa recently updated its guidelines to state that only FFP2, KN95, N95 or surgical masks would be allowed on their flights.
- Breathable – If you’re going to be passing through airports and getting on long-haul flights, the first thing you need to look for is a mask that is breathable and won’t leave you panting for breath! Many members of our community suggested that travellers take a few different types of masks with them when travelling. For example, some travellers prefer to wear one type of mask when they are on the plane and a different one when they are in the airport itself. This is because some masks offer a great level of protection for the wearer (such as the N95 mask) but are not so comfortable when worn for long periods of time, therefore it is better to limit the amount of time that you are wearing this mask as much as possible.
- Washable and Reusable – Single-use items have long been a drain on the planet’s resources. Since the Coronavirus pandemic started, thousands of disposable masks have been used once and thrown away, so much so that there’s been a surge in ocean pollution. You can’t blame citizens for this (assuming they haven’t dropped the mask in the oceans themselves, in which case, blame away…). Medical authorities recommend that masks such as the KN95 and surgical masks be disposed of after one usage. If you hate the thought of so much waste, you may prefer to invest in a fabric mask that is washable and reusable.
- Comfortable – If you’re going to be sitting on a long-haul flight for several hours, you will need something that you feel comfortable in. Our ears have really taken a beating over the past year and many people look for a mask with adjustable straps so that it fits better and relieves pressure behind the ears. Some people prefer the strap that fits around the bottom of their head instead. In addition, some of the fabric masks have foam fitted around the nose piece to prevent air leakage and also to make the mask more comfortable for the wearer.
- Filtration – When it comes to filtration, we are talking about the percentage of aerosol particles that the mask filters out. For example, the safest mask available, the N95 respirator, is named according to the percentage of particles that it filters out, 95-97%. On the other hand, surgical masks and cloth masks offer less protection, but many claim that they are easier to breathe in.
- Snug fitting – While some masks, such as the FFP masks (see below), offer a high level of protection, remember that these types of masks are only effective in keeping you safe if the mask is properly fitted. Having a gaping hole above your nose means that air can leak in and out and the mask will not offer as much protection. It is also believed that facial hair and masks are not a good combo. The hair growth widens the gap between the face and the mask, meaning that more air can enter and escape. The clean shaven look is very 2021.
Source: Travel pulse, Backpacker south east asia.