While we’re writing this article about Coronavirus travel safety, it’s been almost a year corona virus is with us and the vaccination has begun in some countries from a week ago! All of us have experienced the ups and downs of this new routine in our lives. As travelers, hospitality service providers and tour leaders, we have to change our travel style slightly from now on, to have a corona free safe travel (or for that matter, any other potential virus). Here, in Hi Tehran Hostel, we re-opened from May 2020 with a total new hygiene guidelines and restrict rules for ourselves and also the guests. Also, as multinational travelers, we had some experienced in traveling through pandemic. So, we thought of sharing our experience as a hostel in Iran about how did we do to stay safe.
Interesting content, huh? Yet, we need your contribution as readers to complete these Coronavirus travel safety tips:
- First things, first: apart from general cautions, you have to make sure about having the right travelling insurance that covers the potential costs in your travel destination. If traveling to Iran, you must note that having a travel insurance is mandatory for issuing your visa, whether you’re applying for Iran E-visa or plan to get Iran visa on arrival.
- Make sure you have your medical records with you or simply have your previous records or potential allergies on a piece of paper in your hand bag.
Preparing your backpack before going on a trip
To be better prepared for the new era of travelling with potential risksCoronavirus travel safety, it’s better to have few extra items that only add a little weight to your backpack.
- Alcoholic pads for quick mobile phone or other objects sanitizing. You can also use the alcoholic pads for touching the small spots that are very exposed to everyone’s touch;
- A Full bag of 3 layer masks and latex gloves: Don’t be a scrooge and grab enough for changing them at least twice a day the whole length of your trip;
- Two 70% alcohol spray: One small pocket size that you can put it around your neck with a long strain like a neckless (you can do a DIY; it’s simple). And also a bigger 250 ml size spray in your backpack for sanitizing items you might get outside;
- A decent share of vitamin C and D capsules to keep your immune system up during the trip. Having Neurobion ampoules shot before the trip keeps you more safe. Neurobion ampoules are the combination of vitamin B types;
- A lighter for sanitizing metal: it comes handy for sanitizing cutleries if you had to use them somewhere unsafe;
- Multiple cotton and plastic bags to keep the lean and dirty cloths completely separate. Also since the shoes are one the most exposed items to the ground and hence the virus, always keep them in a separate plastic bag;
- Glasses or sunglasses: Which you can use for more protection if a historic site or indoor space is overcrowded;
- Your own linen sheets and towel: Get used to it! Whether going to a friend’s house or staying in a quality accommodation;
- Your own mug, flask or glass: Even if you have one of those hiking packs with light plates, cutleries and other stuff, we suggest you to grab it;
- Grab a light blanket, a warm shawl or jacket even in summer to be used inside plane cabin instead of requesting one from the attendant.
Coronavirus travel safety for airports, and on board
In general, filtered air on airplanes is safer and cleaner than many of us breathe on the ground. Yet, the risk of contagious viruses remains strong.
- Review and observe the updated entry requirements for your destination as well as the regulations at the departure and destination airports;
- Check-in online for your flight via mobile services and apps.
- Keep social distancing wherever possible, wear a 3 layered face mask all along, face shield or glasses and frequently use a hand sanitizer;
- Make sure you put your own blankets or pashmina shawl or jacket in your cabin bag. We all have the experience of freezing in the airports or plane cabins even in mid-August. Avoid asking for the airline blankets;
- A good approach is “wear a few layers of gloves and peel them off as you go through the airport. Remove one pair after security, another after boarding and finally when you arrive at your seat.” Especially, trays at security are highly risky since they pass through so many different hands each day. Make sure you wash and sanitize your hand carefully after this stage. Meanwhile, don’t touch your face or any unnecessary items. Don’t forget to have a disposal bag to put the used gloves inside and then throwing them in a bin;
- Grab a bottle of water from home (preferably not a bottled water). Apparently it’s allowed more often now to pass it through security gate;
- Have your boarding pass downloaded on your phone. Also, it’s always clever to have scan of your passport in your email. Moreover, sort all of your IDs and travelling documents in an organized way inside a file folder to prevent extra explores in your bag;
- It helps if you wear more layers of clothes to be able to put them on and off. It’s also useful to remove the outer one after leaving the plane or as soon as reaching to your accommodation;
- Lastly but most importantly, over sanitize your check-in bags after receiving them at the destination. Usually there are dozen pair of different hands touching your bags from check-in to delivery point. Also, if there are lots of people around the baggage carousel after your flight, wait in a proper distance till you see your luggage coming through. At the end, leave the airport as quickly as possible which means no free shop!
- On board, remain seated as much as possible; Don’t eat or drink; Wear a mask and preferable face shield onboard when not eating or drinking;
- If you have a short flight, remember to use the toilet at home or if needed at the airport before the flight. It helps with reducing the unnecessary interacts and movement on the aircraft. Using the common toilets is a big challenge. Spray them before using and if possible do a squat on the toilet!
Choosing your accommodation and how to interact there
- First of all, pay attention to the cleanness reputation of your chosen accommodation and its policy toward this situation. For example, here in Hi Tehran Hostel, we only sell 50% of the dorms and the hostel capacity till things get back to normal. We have free alcohol sprays and sterilizing liquids on every table. Surfaces get cleaned constantly. Most of the rooms have en-suite bathrooms and there are numerous shared bathrooms which get sterilized multiple times per day;
- In Hi Tehran Hostel, we had a “No shoes inside” policy from the very beginning according to Iranian traditions. And it’s one of our cleanness bonuses more than ever now. In Hi Tehran Hostel, linen sheets, pillow covers, towels and all blankets are washed with specific cleaners, heated and sterilized for 2 hours in high temperature after each use.
- If you plan to stay in dormitories, make sure the dorm is spacious enough, not crowded, with a proper air circulation. Avoid, leaving your belongings on the other beds and just put them in your own locker after sterilizing it, or put them only on your own bed.
- Yet, in general, it’s much better to use your personal linen sheets, towel and blanket while traveling;
- Another potential risk area in a hostel is the kitchen or breakfast serving spot. If it’s overcrowded, make sure you take away your food somewhere else or comeback for cooking after a while. In Hi Tehran Hostel, we suggest having our complimentary breakfast in the kitchen or if crowded, in our beautiful open space garden;
- If you order a delivery food, it’s better to warm it up in the oven or in the microwave for a few minutes. Again, it’s suggested to limit salads and vegetables, unless you’re washing or making them yourself.
- It’s much better to use your own mug for drinking while in a hostel. Or, make sure you responsibly wash them –or any other equipment you use- with washing liquids. Yet never trust if it’s been properly washed by the previous person;
- Avoid smoking areas in your accommodation where there is a potential risk for this contagious virus. Usually, in the smoking areas, everyone forgets about the fact that they have taken off their masks and are blowing into each other’s face with no safe distancing! That’s why in Hi Tehran Hostel, we have a limited space for smoking away from the building in the yard.
What & how to eat to meet Coronavirus travel safety tips
- Go for the fruits that you can peel after washing like: Bananas, Oranges, melons, … if you can’t pass on other local fruits, just wait till you can properly wash them with water and other sterilizing liquids;
- For takeout foods, go for those options which you can warm them up in the oven or in the microwave later in your accommodation. Skip salads or snacks that can’t be heated;
- If you’re eating in a restaurant, choose the open space section if possible. Also, again skip salads and desserts. Order warm dishes and cleanup the cutlery with alcoholic pads and heat them up if you have a lighter with you;
- Skip restaurants where is smoking is allowed inside. If you wonder about the possibility, in Iran, some traditional teahouses or restaurants serve shisha alongside the food!
How to use public transportation more safely
- If using public transportation, remain silent! That’s right, speaking inside small spaces increase the spread and receive of virus;
- Try to have everything ready on your phone or map to decrease the need of asking stuff around. Choose your spot, use gloves and just touch one place for keeping your balance if standing. And of course, don’t touch your face during and after the ride. Use a 70% alcohol sanitizer spray to sterilize your hands after getting off;
- Put everything in your bag before getting on. Put your wallet, headphone, or any extra belonging in your bag to remain clean. Don’t take them out before sanitizing your hands with 70% alcohol spray;
- Skip rush hours and don’t count on last trains since the wagons will be super crowded.
- Change your mask and gloves regularly. While travelling, it’s not the time to be scrooge around this issue;
- Wake up earlier to save time for walking instead of using public transportation. Or if possible, rent a bike;
- Buy a transportation card and charge it online or at once to avoid touching the vendor or cash more than necessary. If you wondering how public transportation works in Iran, Read Here.
Sightseeing and wandering more safely
- It’s fair to know, not because a place has opened up, there is no longer any risk. There are always political and economic pressures upon these kind of situations;
- The key for Coronavirus travel safety, is to stay away from other people. As National Geographic quotes: “pretend that other people are grizzly bears and stay away from them.”
- Over sanitize your hands after any sightseeing and wear two masks instead of one;
- Preferably choose trekking in the nature the monuments and open space historical sights rather than small museums;
- For sure skip traditional bazaars and local flee markets if the situation is not completely normal. Especially since, Iran traditional bazaars are overcrowded.
Coronavirus travel safety tips if traveling Iran
- Mind the environment, while protecting yourself. With the volume of masks and gloves we use every day, we are already in a big trouble with our environment in Iran. Some say cotton masks which are washable and reusable are better choices. We agree. According to many valid sources such as WHO and CDC, cotton masks are equally fine if not in a highly risky situation. If you use latex gloves, make sure you responsibly dispose them. Please avoid throwing them away exposed in the nature;
- Iranians tend to hug or shake hands (sometimes even despite the cautions). Don’t be shy to reject it;
- As a traveler in Iran, you’ll get invited to many parties, weddings, individuals homes. Apart from your responsibility as a traveler towards Iran culture, for a better Coronavirus travel safety, it’s not safe to accept such invitations in the close future;
- Since you have to carry cash with you in Iran, unfortunately you can’t pay things online most of the time (get help from your accommodation). So, make sure you have enough hand sanitizer with you!
Writer: Golnar ZAMANI