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As Thanksgiving approaches, many are coordinating their travel plans and starting to hit the road. With travel by train, plane or bus comes renewed anxieties over COVID-19 due to the increased risk of transmission. As there are new strains of the virus, it’s important to make sure you’re up to date with your booster in time for the holiday as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That said, even when you’re up to date with vaccines, it’s still possible to get sick from COVID-19 and other illnesses that are common this time of year like the cold or flu. It’s important to take caution in protecting yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19. There are plenty of easy-to-pack products we recommend bringing with you for your holiday travel. From sanitizers to protective masks, these eight items are must-haves for anyone traveling for Thanksgiving.
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1. Protective N95 and KN95 masks
While masks haven’t been required on domestic flights since April, wearing a mask remains one of the most effective ways of protecting yourself and others from the spread of COVID.
Not just any mask will cut it, as cloth masks aren't effective at filtering tiny particles. Health officials instead recommend use of medical masks such as N95 and K95 masks. Both kinds have 95% filtration efficiency, meaning they're the gold standard when it comes to protection. While these masks are widely sold online, you should take caution to avoid counterfeit masks.
2. A vaccine card carrier
You’ll want proof of vaccination if you’re going to a place that requires it. While there are several ways to keep a record of your vaccination card online, those who prefer to have their physical copy on them should take care to make sure it’s protected. One way to make sure it stays in mint condition is by investing in a vaccine card carrier. There are plenty of stylish and protective options to choose from that you can get from online retailers. We particularly love a design sold on Etsy that doubles as a passport carrier.
3. Hand sanitizer to disinfect on the go
While washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to fight germs, a squeeze of hand sanitizer goes a long way when you’re in a pinch. When buying sanitizer, make sure the formula contains at least 60% alcohol, as recommended by the CDC.
The Travel Security Administration (TSA) is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container—up to 12 ounces per passenger until further notice—in carry-on bags. Keep in mind that the agency warns that this may slow down your checkpoint screening process.
For a guaranteed supply of hand sanitizer throughout your trip, we recommend bringing a bundle of travel-sized sanitizers. That way, you won’t run out during your travels. Plus, they’re easy to stick in your pocket or purse for convenience.
4. Disinfecting wipes for a clean traveling station
While the risk of becoming infected through contact with surfaces is lower than breathing in infected particles, it never hurts to bring disinfecting wipes with you on your journey. Disinfecting your seat, armrest and tray table can give you extra protection and provide peace of mind.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectant wipes that are approved to kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus, such as Lysol, can be found easily. This pack of four can be stored at home or taken on the go in plastic baggies.
5. At-home tests to see if you’re positive
Despite all your precautions, you might find yourself feeling under the weather. Hopefully it’s just a false alarm, but there’s only one way to find out. If you find yourself experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should get yourself tested. An at-home COVID-19 test will give you results in as little as 15 minutes, helping you prevent the spread or giving you relief if it comes out negative.
6. A water bottle to avoid public fountains
You may find yourself thirsty during your travels, but you also might feel wary about drinking from public water fountains given the past few years. To keep hydrated while avoiding public drinking fountains, we recommend bringing a water bottle with you during your trip. Specifically, we recommend the Brita Stainless Steel Filtering Water Bottle, which is the best reusable water bottle we’ve tested. It keeps your water refreshingly cold and filters out any odors while you sip. Just remember that it needs to be empty while you go through security.
7. A smartphone sanitizer to keep your phone clean
Bad news: Your cell phone is probably dirtier than a toilet seat. About 10 times dirtier, to be exact. It can even pass along bacteria such as E.coli. Now that you’re burdened with this horrifying knowledge, you no doubt want to sanitize your phone. Phone sanitizers can be a quick and convenient way to get your phone squeaky clean.
We tested three phone sanitizers and found the popular PhoneSoap Smartphone Sanitizer successfully kills the most bacteria on a phone. However, we think a simple DIY disinfecting solution can do the trick in killing bacteria, too—so if you want to skip the fancy gadget, a 70% isopropyl and water solution will get the job done.
8. A thermometer to monitor any potential symptoms
A thermometer is a great way to monitor symptoms before, during and after your travel as a fever can be a symptom of a COVID-19 infection. For reference, one has a fever when their temperature reaches 100.4° F or above.
To monitor temperatures with ease, use a digital thermometer like the one offered by Femometer. It’s speedy, accurate and the results are color-coded for convenience.
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This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Thanksgiving 2022: How to stay safe from covid omicron during travel