Before You Travel
Limit activities in centers or play spaces where exposure to viruses could be greater. Although it’s not a foolproof solution, when you have the choice, opt to spend the few days before travel at home or areas with lower traffic. For those who have kids in daycare or school, it’s a nearly impossible task (we know!), but consider keeping your child at home to rest the day before you travel and make sure to wash up the second your kids get home from school. While avoiding quickly-spreading viruses may not be easy, washing hands as soon as kids get home minimizes the spread and therefore limits exposure.
Getting rest before travel isn’t just for the kids. Catching up on some zzz’s can do wonders to boost your immune health and ensure your body has the power to fight off viruses (6-8 hrs is the recommended amount). Make sure both you and your children get a proper night’s sleep and nap a day or two before you travel. For young babies that means trying to ensure proper rest which may mean keeping naps outside the home to a minimum.
On that note, stress can leave your body more vulnerable. If you don’t want to get sick, and pass it on to your kids, find ways to eliminate stress leading up to travel. Consider offloading tasks that can be stressful — this is a great time to try out a Totts box to help with the stress of packing!
While You Travel
This starts with what you pack—purchase both disinfectant and antibacterial wipes. Disinfectant wipes like Clorox wipes can be used to clean surfaces such as armrests, tray tables, windows, seats and other hard surfaces. For the wipes to do their magic, make sure to follow instructions — surfaces are required to be wet for a certain amount of time in order for germs to be killed properly.
Antibacterial wipes are great to wipe grime off your child’s hands and also make sure they are cleaned along the way. Antibacterial wipes are still no replacement for hand washing, so continue to wash and use the wipes in between washes.
It’s hard to avoid the tray table while you’re on a plane (or the desire for your toddler to play with one). But before you start feeding your child from the table, make sure the surface has been sanitized and that there is a clean layer between the table and food or other activities your child is doing on the tray table. You can use a stick-on disposable placemat to cover the table or there are other products out there specifically designed to create a barrier between the table and your child.
Areas of the plane to avoid? Yes, the bathroom is not ideal, but avoiding that altogether isn’t feasible. However, the back seat pocket can— and should— be avoided! According to tests it’s the dirtiest part of a seat and one where germs tend to linger. Avoid putting toys and other items your child uses (or you use) in the pockets.
A big question families are asking right now — should we wear a mask? The right type of mask can protect you by filtering the airborne particles but in a lot of cases it doesn’t offer 100% protection against airborne illnesses. It’s just the same if you are in a crowded subway or coffee shop — there is still going to be exposure. Unless you are traveling to areas that you feel you have an increased chance of getting sick, purchase a heavy-duty mask (a surgical mask won’t do) — otherwise it’s okay to leave the masks at home.
When You Arrive
Pull out the disinfectant wipes and cover the surfaces that you know your child will touch — tables, tv remote, phones and doorknobs. Use only glassware / utensils wrapped in plastic, and wash anything else before using (or better yet bring your own!).
Many families use high chairs, cribs or rented car seats at their destination. Take the same approach to wiping down these surfaces. Even though you may not stop everything, it’s all about helping to put the odds in your family's favor.
Lastly, take time to relax! It may seem counterintuitive now that you have a laundry list of things to wipe down (sorry for the extra work!), but make sure you don’t overexert yourself or your kids during your vacation. Rest is still the best remedy to help fight any illness and you want to make sure your whole family is getting plenty of it. Remember, a vacation is a time to re-charge so make sure you take advantage of this natural immune booster while you have it!
About: Alejandra Tejada is the founder and CEO of Totts. After spending four years in product innovation and digital consumer research, she left a startup incubator at a Fortune 100 company to pursue her passion for sharing travel with children by creating Totts. Prior to this, she spent six years with an international non-profit, Accion International. Alejandra has a BA from the University of San Diego and an MBA from IESE Business School in Barcelona.