As summer draws near with COVID cases declining, you may be planning longer trips to finally visit friends or family you haven’t seen for over a year. Or you might be planning a getaway for a much-needed family vacation.
The CDC still recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated. However, if you are fully vaccinated and planning to travel with your children on an airplane, it’s crucial to be safe and keep your kids safe during the flight. Though COVID cases have decreased in the U.S. since introducing the vaccine, there are still important precautions you should take.
1. Research your airline’s boarding policies.
You want to make sure you are prepared and help your child know what to expect when it’s time to board the airplane. Some airlines may allow you to choose your own seat or rebook for free if the flight is at 70% capacity. Become familiar with your local airport’s check-in and security processes to ensure there are no surprises. As the pandemic continues to shift, airport procedures will be changing as well, so stay as up-to-date as possible.
2. Eat before you fly.
Though you may want to bring a snack for your child to munch on the plane to keep them happy during longer flights, avoid any activities that require you and your child to remove your masks. Instead, eat beforehand, so you don’t need to take your mask off for any reason. If you need to bring food or drinks for the flight, try not to leave your mask off for too long to avoid any potential risks for transmission.
3. Pack extra masks.
All major airlines require passengers over the age of 2 to wear a mask at all times during the flight, except when eating or drinking. If your young child gets tired of wearing it and takes it off or it somehow gets lost or soiled, always pack extras to ensure you and your child won’t need to worry about any mishaps. Pack them in a place where it is easy to access, like a backpack or the outside pocket of your carry-on.
4. Bring disinfectant wipes.
You will most likely be able to find hand sanitizer inside the airport but bring a travel-sized bottle to take with you on the plane. Disinfectant wipes are also a great way to sanitize all the surfaces around you. Once you are in the airplane, wipe down the tray table, armrests, windows, and any other surface your child may touch. After your flight, wipe down your luggage and wash your hands as soon as you can.
5. Sit away from other passengers.
As the traveling season picks up, it may be harder to sit far away from others on the airplane. However, sit your child or any family members at a higher risk at the window seat to keep them as far away from other passengers.
6. Avoid crowding.
It may not be easy to avoid crowds, especially on an airplane, but practice physical distancing as much as possible. Consider traveling during a non-peak season or booking an early morning flight when there may be fewer travelers.
7. Check travel restrictions for the state you visit.
Since the rate of COVID cases varies across the country, there may be travel restrictions in different state, local, and territorial governments. You and your family may need to be tested upon arrival or quarantine. Check the local health department of the area you visit to follow their guidelines and be aware of their restrictions.
Your child may not fully understand why they need to take so many precautions or may forget about them quickly, so you must keep them safe and sanitized during your travels. However, you don’t want to frighten your kids by making sanitization or safety precautions a big deal. Their trip on an airplane should be fun and exciting, not one inundated with fear.
To avoid scaring especially younger children about germs, make it a routine even before you travel to wash their hands regularly, use hand sanitizer in public places, and wipe down any surfaces both indoors and outdoors before touching them. If they have any fears about traveling on an airplane with others, listen to them and assure them that you will be taking all the necessary safety precautions to ensure a safe trip.
Emily currently lives in Orange County, California after spending four years in Illinois and half a year teaching in Florence, Italy. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Knox College and an M.A. in Counseling from the University of San Diego and has taught English to native speakers and ESL students for over three years. When she’s not working as a School Counselor or writing, she enjoys traveling the world, playing instruments, and blogging about Millennial experiences at Long Live the Twenties.