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Thanksgiving Travel Necessities for the COVID-19 Conscious Student

by Amille Bottom

Thanksgiving Day and the subsequent weekend are among the busiest days in the entire United States travel industry. As thousands of people flock home to celebrate Turkey Day with family and friends, airline, train and bus bookings skyrocket.

This year, Thanksgiving travel will look very different from years past. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of traveling during one of the busiest weeks of the year must be carefully calculated. Everyone misses their families, but is a short break at home really worth the spreading of a virus?

According to an article by BU Today, Boston University officials recommend “students who do go home for the holiday to take advantage of BU’s Learn from Anywhere (LfA) model,” and stay home for the rest of the semester. Additionally, officials encourage students to stay in Boston for the holiday, as any student who travels outside of Massachusetts will be required to quarantine for at least 14 days upon re-entrance into the state. This mandatory self-quarantine would infringe on returning students’ abilities to prepare for final exams, as it would interfere with in-person class attendance for those who choose to attend.

That being said, there are still many effective ways for students who do choose to travel home for Thanksgiving to do so safely and responsibly.

1. Wear a Mask

At this point in time, this should go without saying. However, it doesn’t hurt to say it again: wear a mask. Anyone that travels on an airline, train or bus will be required by the company to wear a mask throughout the entire journey. For all major airlines, those who do not comply with the mask policy will be asked to leave the plane and airport. A mask is the single most effective way to protect yourself and others in the midst of the pandemic.

2. Wipe It Down

Clorox wipes (or any sanitizing wipes) are any COVID-conscious traveler’s best friend. Before sitting in your seat, wipe down any surfaces that aren’t fabric: tray tables, armrests, leather cushioning, seat belt buckles. It’s a simple step, but it can make yourself and those around you more comfortable. Wiping down your area may seem excessive, but it’s a great way to prevent the spread of more germs. If you really want to make a difference, wipe down your area again as you leave the vehicle, so that it’s doubly clean for the next person!

3. Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize

Hand sanitizer and hand washing are key to a clean travel experience. One should wash their hands regularly, as well as utilize hand sanitizer while on her journey. Wash your hands before and after boarding your mode of transport, and use hand sanitizer throughout the ride at moments of high-contact, such as when using the restroom or when grabbing something out of your bag. To minimize the use of small plastic bottles, buy a reusable plastic bottle and fill it before your journey from a larger container. A pandemic doesn’t mean an end to sustainability efforts.

4. Purchase Pre-Packaged Food in the Airport

While officials recommend eating before arriving at the airport, most travel days are too long to avoid eating throughout them entirely. If you feel peckish at the airport, don’t go for the Starbucks pastry or McDonald’s burger. Instead, purchase pre-packaged food at a stand, such as granola bars or chips. While these options may not be as filling, they have less risk of contact exposure with others.

5. Travel in the Least-Popular Time Slot

No one wants to take the redeye, but in the middle of a global pandemic, that may be the best option. If you want to minimize exposure with others, pick the time slot for your journey that is the least popular. By doing so, you get the chance to be more spread out on your plane, train or bus. A bonus point? More leg room!

Safe travels this Thanksgiving, Terriers. Stay in Boston if you can, and if you choose to go home, stay there (hello, almost extended winter break)!

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