News of the rapid spread of COVID-19 has people around the world canceling their Spring Break plans. But while you may want to rethink your flights to Europe or Asia at this time, and stay out of bustling cities like Seattle or New York where the virus may spread more quickly, there are still a few trips that you can safely take.
One is a visit to Zion National Park. With plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the park’s trails, a road trip to Zion is the perfect way to limit your contact with crowds while still enjoying some sunshine and fresh air.
The mayor of Springdale, Stan Smith, reported that while hotels and tour agencies in the Springdale area have seen cancellations from overseas travelers, they’re also experiencing a boost in bookings from Utahns and residents of other nearby states.
Whether you’re looking to replace canceled Spring Break plans or just need to safely get out of your house for a while, keep reading to learn a few healthy tips for traveling to Zion at this time.
Don’t Travel if You’re Ill
It’s up to each individual to prevent spreading COVID-19, the flu, or any other virus or disease. That means that if you are showing symptoms, it’s essential that you cancel your travel plans, or alter them if you are already traveling.
The CDC has identified three main symptoms of coronavirus, including:
- Shortness of breath
If you are experiencing these symptoms, whether you have been tested or diagnosed with COVID-19 or not, you should avoid contact with other people. Those with mild symptoms can shelter in place and self-quarantine. If you’re staying in a hotel or vacation rental, contact management over the phone and wait for further instructions. Do not head into any park, restaurant, store, or other location while exhibiting symptoms.
Any family members or friends that you’ve been traveling with should avoid contact with other people as well. It can take between 2 and 14 days for symptoms to begin.
The CDC asks that anyone with severe symptoms, including difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain, confusion, and bluish lips or face seak medical attention immediately. Call 911 or a hospital’s non-emergency number to let them know that you are exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus before you arrive so that they can properly prepare and prevent further spread of the virus.
Give Your Immune System a Boost
Something that everyone should be doing any time they travel, regardless of whether it’s during a pandemic or not, is to give their immune systems a boost.
Travel of any kind can be rough on your body. Time changes and unfamiliar beds disrupt our sleep patterns. New foods, and especially indulgent vacation foods, mean more calories and often less nutrition. Plus, contact with regions that may have different bacterias or common viruses that our systems aren’t used to can leave us more susceptible to becoming ill.
Starting in the days and weeks before your trip and continuing during your vacation, give your immune system some extra support. You can do this by getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy balanced meals, prioritizing eating foods rich in vitamin C or else taking vitamins, and practicing good hygiene. These measures can help lower your chances of getting sick, or help speed your recovery if you do fall ill.
Know the Difference Between Hand Washing and Hand Sanitizer
The rush to buy hand sanitizer has left stores across the country with empty shelves. But while an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, with at least 60 percent alcohol, is good to have with you while you travel, nothing can replace washing your hands with soap and water.
The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water:
- Before, during, and after prepping and eating food
- Both before and after caring for someone who is ill or treating a cut or wound on yourself or someone else
- After using the restroom, or helping a child use the restroom, including changing a diaper
- After coughing, blowing your nose, or sneezing
- Anytime your hands are visibly dirty or greasy, as hand sanitizer is proven inefficient in these situations
- After touching an animal, animal food, or waste
- Anytime you take out or handle garbage
If soap and water are not available, you can use hand sanitizer. But you should wash your hands as often as possible as well.
If You’re Flying, Take These Precautions
Because so many people are traveling in such close quarters, airplanes can help viruses spread more quickly. But unlike other close-quarter situations, like movie theaters or buses, airplanes are equipped with advanced air filter systems that help filter out harmful airborne particles.
With that said, if you do choose to fly at this time, or even after the coronavirus has faded, there are several health tips you can follow to help lower your chances of getting sick even more.
The first thing you should do is wipe down the tray table and your seat with antibacterial wipes before you sit. Many airlines are now cutting costs by turning over flights very quickly. This means that planes get only a quick clean up or none at all in between legs. Cleaning your space can help you eliminate germs that previous travelers may have left behind.
Of course, washing your hands before and after you fly and when using the restroom, will help as well. Even with regular hand washing, you should avoid touching your face and mouth while;e in the air.
Experts say to also skip wearing a medical mask if you aren’t sick. If you aren’t used to wearing a mask, this can lead to you touching your face more often than you usually would, leaving you even more susceptible to getting sick.
Planning a Healthy Visit to Zion National Park
If you need a vacation but want to limit your contact with others, Zion might be just the place. If you’re worried about using the shuttle systems, you can always walk into the park and reach many of the same popular trailheads all on your own.
Of course, it’s still important to practice other health and safety tips while visiting the park, like staying hydrated and properly preparing for any trails you want to hike. Learn more about protecting yourself in the park here.