Landscape photographers typically fall into the frequent traveler category. I’ve come down with a cold during photography travel once or twice now, and it is miserable. However, I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. So, like many others, I do my best to keep myself healthy and protected while on travel. While there are lots photographers who are blessed to camp out of their cars or converted vehicle, so many of us travel on planes, trains, and rental cars. Moreover, photography workshops are more popular than ever before offering amazing adventures all over the world.
With the recent unfolding of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic as well as flu seasons each year, I thought it would be helpful to share my simple and practical travel tips with my health and the health of others in mind. To be crystal clear, this is not a post on how to prevent COVID-19 or even the flu for that matter. Rather, this is how I approach planning my photography travel. Honestly, I hope you read this and think, “gosh, I already do all of that. write something more helpful.”
Have Travel Insurance for Your Photography Travel
Since photography workshops can be booked even years in advance, I consider travel insurance essential in most cases. This is one of the best ways to protect yourself from the unexpected. You never know when you will become sick, injured, when an outbreak can occur, or a natural disaster will strike. There are many credit cards with travel insurance when you use them to book your travel, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It will cover things like any sickness experienced by you or a travel companion which prevents you from going on the trip.
Do keep in mind that credit card travel insurance does not cover virus outbreaks. Although, thankfully, airlines and hotels have been fairly accommodating with change fees and cancellations with the recent coronavirus outbreak. Depending on your trip destination, dates of travel, and total expense, it may be beneficial to purchase separate travel insurance for your own peace of mind. At the very least, keep your cancellation policy and the windows to cancel in your planning. Mark the last day to cancel penalty free on your calendar, for air travel and hotels. It is always helpful for a pop-up reminder to have me double check that my impending travel is still on track for a smooth departure.
How to Stay Healthy and Avoid Germs on Planes
Flight crews only have a few minutes between flights and focus on picking up large trash and noticeable spills rather than doing a thorough cleaning. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn’t regulate or inspect cleaning either. So it only makes sense to be responsible for yourself and your surroundings.
- Have hand sanitizer with at least 62% alcohol and use it often. Make sure the bottle is 3.4 ounces or less so you can keep it with your carry-on items. Given current conditions, I use it after holding onto escalator railings or poles in the trains between terminals. I
- Bring disinfecting wipes with at least 62% alcohol and clean your seating area. This should include the arm rests, tray table, seat pocket, seat belts and buckles, touchscreen entertainment, and window blind. Clean anything you would touch. Also, if or when you go to the restroom, bring your wipes!
- Bring your own neck pillow and a jacket to wear if you get cold. Avoid using the airline’s pillows and blankets. Let’s just say they aren’t really required to clean those as often as you would want.
- Stay hydrated; however, avoid tap water on planes. Either refill your reusable water bottle at the airport water bottle filling stations or purchase bottled water before boarding.
- Wash your hands often and for 30 seconds. 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi…
- Clean your cell phone and keys regularly. We touch our mobile phones so much and often right after we have touched hand railings, or counter surfaces. I wipe down my phone on a regular basis, while traveling and at home. Bonus: when is the last time you cleaned your keys?
- Avoid handling cash. I will use my card to pay for most purchases to help keep my hands from touching money or I will use my hand sanitizer afterwards.
- If traveling abroad or to remote areas, pack preferred common cold remedies and/or medicines.
- Use some common sense. Before you travel, prep your immune system. Get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise, you know, all the things your Mama told you to do.
How to Stay Healthy and Avoid Germs During a Hotel Stay
- Say the next line in your mom’s man voice. Wash your hands and wash them often.
- Right after you open the door to your room, take those disinfecting wipes with at least 62% alcohol and clean critical areas, such as doorknobs, faucets, clock, phone, toilet handle, light switches, drape handles, remote controls, bedside table surface, and handles or buttons for a fridge or microwave. I’ve even heard people say to put the remote in a ziplock bag or shower cap and use it that way. While I haven’t gone that far, I keep that method in the back of my mind in case I run out of cleaning supplies.
- Bring a travel sized amount of dish soap and clean your reusable water bottle on a regular basis. You would be surprised how many people actually will go an entire trip without cleaning their water bottle. If you want an all in 1 soap, try Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap. You can use it on dishes, your body, and to do laundry!
- Avoid hotel glassware or prior to use, wash it with the dish soap you brought from the tip above and hot water.
- Pack a travel-sized lysol disinfectant spray and spray in the bathroom, the bed area, and even spray the drape handles.
- Avoid using the bedspread because chances are it hasn’t been cleaned or changed before your arrival.
How to Stay Healthy on a Photography Trip
Keep stress and fatigue at a minimum. More importantly, sleep! Trying to make the most of your photography adventure typically means you are short on sleep. It’s really difficult to get a good night’s rest when you’re out for sunrise, sunset, stars, and everything in between. This is especially difficult if Mother Nature delivers perfect weather conditions. So again, use common sense. Try to get as much sleep as possible, take naps, stay hydrated, dress appropriately to stay warm or cool, eat healthy snacks, and of course wash your hands regularly. Do you see a pattern here?
Please note that I am not a healthcare professional. Similarly, this is not an exhaustive list. It does not guarantee that you won’t pick up a cold while on photography travel. For me, I feel that these are reasonable steps to take when I’m traveling to try and safeguard me from getting sick, particularly during the flu season and winter months.
For some, I know it many seem like overkill and they use germs to bolster their immune system. While I’m all for building immunity, my concern to keep the flu and now coronavirus at bay is for my community, for infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Additionally, it is to help our healthcare system and set it up for success. Our health systems are built to handle small numbers of severely ill people at the same time. Our hospitals are not designed for global outbreaks or pandemics. Therefore, we all should do our part to help outpace an outbreak any time it occurs. I hope gave you one or two new tricks to help keep the germs away so your only travel souvenir is a few memory cards filled with beautiful landscape and nature images.
What other travel tips and hacks do you use to keep yourself healthy while on travel?