Overseas travel should be back on the table by now, right? With new Covid variants popping up just in time for the holiday season, I wanted to discuss how our family plans to mitigate our risks while traveling overseas to see our families after two long years.
This holiday season was supposed to be different…
We all thought by now, with the availability of the vaccine and the knowledge of Covid that we didn’t have before, we would be making travel plans and seeing families that we haven’t seen in the past two years.
But nope! The Covid saga continues — now with Omicron lurking around while Delta is still lingering. How much longer can we isolate ourselves without doing real damage to our mental health?
That was the conversation my husband and I had for weeks. With both of our families out of the country (or continent, for that matter —he’s from Europe and I’m from Asia), it has been difficult for everyone to continue this Zoom/FaceTime ritual. At one point we asked ourselves – keeping our OVERALL health in mind – is there a way to mitigate our risks while reconnecting with families, while keeping everyone sane AND staying healthy? Can we have our cake and eat it, too?
As we looked for answers, we came across several articles and recommendations that eventually convinced us that we will be able to do this and it’s worth a shot. So we went ahead and bought those plane tickets! I had a hunch that many of us are in the same boat, so here are the cliff notes of what we’re going to do.
- Vaccination: We’re lucky that both girls (5 & 7) are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine and will be fully vaccinated at the time of travel. I did want to space their two vaccines out more initially, but we decided to give that up in favor of the increased protection full vaccination provides.
- Protective gear: The kiddos will be outfitted with face shields (with eye protection) and KN95 masks. You bet they’ll have them on whenever they’re indoors and around others!
- Air flow: According to an article from the Wall Street Journal on avoiding Covid transmission during flights, “Recent studies have found that masking does reduce the risk of infection and using the air gasper—the overhead air nozzle that can be adjusted on many airplanes—does work at quickly scattering viral particles. Even if it makes you cold, it’s worth opening it full blast and aiming it in front of your face.” I’m bringing on a carry on just for those extra sweaters and blankets! My girls will be bundled up (with extra blankets!) so they can tolerate that good air!
- Special meals: Do you ever realize that some people on the airplane get their food delivered first? Oftentimes, people who order special meals (vegetarian, gluten free, and a gazillion options they now provide) get their food delivered first. I will be doing that for our family so we can stagger the meal time with the rest of the cabin – when everyone’s masks are off and eating – we’ll be done and have our masks up.
- Supplies: We will have plenty of alcohol wipes, a small bottle of sanitizer and clean, spare masks on hand so that we can wipe down surfaces and keep our hands/faces clean.
- Distractions: An occupied kid is a happy kid, and this will be a long flight. Check out our recent blog post from Katie Taylor on succeeding at holiday travel with kids during these times. If you know me, you know I am not the biggest fan of screen time, except when we’re on airplanes. My little one’s record on a previous flight was watching Frozen back-to-back 3 times until I insisted on her taking a nap.
I hope this list gives all the families out there in the same boat as us some strategies this holiday season when traveling to see loved ones.
Be safe, and from our family to yours, have the happiest holidays!
Rita Ho-Bezzola is the founder and chief wheel spinner at Piper + Enza.