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As states lift their stay-at-home orders after months of quarantine, more and more people are beginning to venture out. But they aren’t just heading to the grocery store or the gym—some people are starting to travel again, as well.
Whether it be for business or pleasure, traveling during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic isn’t the same as it was before all of this began. Not only are airports, airlines, and other public transportation companies instituting new rules and cleaning procedures, but travelers themselves must also be prepared with the right essentials to stay safe and prevent any further spread of the virus.
If you have plans to travel in the near future, we’ve rounded up 12 things to help you stay safe and comfortable. Our advice comes from guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), advice from experts, and even suggestions from people who have already been traveling amid the pandemic. From the necessary face mask you’ll need to wear from point A to point B to products that will help you sanitize your hotel room, these are the things to take with you on your next trip.
1. A face mask
The CDC advises people to wear a cloth face-covering whenever they are out in public—including while traveling—to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. To help you find a fabric face mask that’s still in stock (they’ve been constantly selling out), we’ve compiled a list of 55 places you can buy face masks online right now. Some of the most popular picks include Nordstrom’s new basic black masks, Anthropologie’s pretty patterned masks, or the plethora of homemade options available on Etsy.
2. Hand sanitizer
While washing your hands is the best way to keep yourself (and those around you) safe, if you don’t have access to soap or water, the CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol before and after using public places or eating food. Since hand sanitizer has been so popular and selling out everywhere, our experts have spent the last few months tracking where you can still buy it online, including retailers like Amazon and Ulta. Tip: New TSA rules allow you to bring hand sanitizer in bottles up to 12 ounces (previously 3) through airport security.
3. Disinfecting wipes or spray
A pack of disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray will come in handy while you travel. You can use them to wipe down public surfaces before you touch them (like an airport check-in screen or the armrests of your plane seat) and to thoroughly sanitize your hotel room or rental home when you first arrive. While disinfectant wipes are hard to come by and are sold out at many retailers, our staff has been diligently tracking (and continuously updating) where you can still buy wipes and spray online, including places like Amazon and Target. The CDC recommends using a cleaner that’s at least 70 percent alcohol, if possible.
Tissues are a great thing to have on hand during the coronavirus pandemic, especially when you’re traveling. While you can use them to sneeze or cough into (avoiding your hands), you can also use them to pick up or touch items that tend to be havens for bacteria (like hotel room TV remotes). You can find one of our experts’ favorite tissues, Puffs Plus Lotion, in travel form at Walmart with these convenient to-go packs that are perfect for tossing in your bag.
5. Reusable snack bags
Whether you’re flying, driving, or taking the train, whenever you’re traveling during the pandemic, the less public things you touch, the better. That includes trying to cut down on the number of stops you make or shops you have to go into. Some travelers suggest packing your own snacks to carry rather than going into a gas station store or touching the buttons on a vending machine. We recommend using these Lunchskins reusable sandwich bags (which are the best ones our experts have tested) because they’re environmentally-friendly and will keep your food fresh for longer.
6. Disposable gloves
While the CDC says that gloves aren’t necessary for everyday use (even when you’re out in public), they do recommend wearing disposable gloves when cleaning. And if you plan to sanitize your hotel room or wipe down your plane seat or even the interior of your car when you’re traveling, you might want to pack some gloves to wear while doing so. Our experts are constantly updating this list of where you can buy disposable gloves online, including Amazon and Walmart.
7. A portable charger
Dealing with a dead phone when traveling is never convenient—but it’s even more of a struggle during the times of COVID-19. People may be hesitant to let you borrow their phone or charger, and trying to find (or sanitize) a public phone can be difficult. To prevent yourself from running into that problem, pack a portable charger in your bag. We’ve tested some of the top ones available and found the Jackery Bolt to be the best in terms of compact design and charging power (it can even charge multiple devices at once). While the larger 10,500mAh Bolt is currently sold out, you can still get the slightly lower-capacity 6,000mAH Bolt on Amazon.
8. Bottled water
Even if water fountains happen to be open at the airport (many airports have opted to close public drinking fountains) or at a rest stop, the buttons can be a hotspot for bacteria. Avoid having to use the public fountain by traveling with your own bottled water. You can buy bottled water in bulk to pack in a cooler if you’re going on a road trip or, if you’re flying, buy a bottle at one of the airport convenience stores (this will also prevent you from having to sip from the cups provided during in-flight service).
9. A travel pillow
If you’re expecting to be handed a pillow and blanket on your next long flight, don’t be surprised when neither are available. When the coronavirus pandemic first began, many airlines decided to stop offering blankets and pillows to passengers as a safety precaution. Instead, carry a lightweight travel pillow with you to stay comfortable on your flight. Of all the ones we’ve tested, we prefer the Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow because it provides the best all-around comfort and neck support thanks to its plush memory foam.
10. A lightweight blanket
Just like pillows, blankets will no longer be provided on many airlines. Not only that, but some experts also advise you to be wary of using the blankets or bedspreads at a hotel or rental home. That’s why bringing a travel-friendly blanket with you is a smart choice. This micro plush one has hundreds of glowing reviews because it’s super soft and packs up neatly into a case that even comes with a luggage clip and belt so you can carry it completely hands-free.
11. A travel mug
If you don’t feel comfortable drinking out of the cups provided at your hotel or rental accommodation (or even the cups from a restaurant), bring your own travel mug with you. That way you’ll know that you’re the only one who has used it and you can keep it clean as you go. Our favorite travel mug here at Reviewed is the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug because it’s durable and portable and kept our coffee piping hot for up to 24 hours (!!).
12. A phone sanitizer
Even if you clean your hands regularly and try to avoid touching things when out in public, your phone is still a bacteria hotspot (think of all the places you’ve put it down!). Keep it germ-free on the go with PhoneSoap’s travel phone sanitizer. Our senior scientist tested out PhoneSoap in Reviewed’s labs and found that it was incredibly effective at killing bacteria. Plus, it only takes six minutes and can be used for more than just your phone (like your keys and credit cards). While PhoneSoap is currently sold out, you can pre-order your sanitizer now and it will ship on August 19th.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.