What It’s Like To Get On An International Flight, Right Now

Not gonna lie: I definitely spent a decent percentage of the week before my parents and I left on our annual diving trip obsessively scanning coronavirus-related headlines and buying massive amounts of water. (Buying extra water – as with toilet paper – is completely unnecessary. But show me a mother and a Contagious Thing, and I’ll show you a garage stocked with a whoooooooole lot of Dasani.)

I wasn’t worried about catching anything, exactly – I was (and still am) worried about some turn of events resulting in me being stranded extremely far away from my children for a duration of time. But the Caymans seemed like a relatively safe pick, planetarily speaking, and I’m also of the mindset that in a situation like this, you collect information and do the best that you can to protect yourself and others, but you also keep on living.

Curious what it’s like to travel internationally during this bizarre moment we’re living in? I shall tell you: It’s weird, but also strangely…pleasant. (I know; I didn’t expect that, either.) First of all, airports – and the flights themselves – are vastly emptier than usual, making for a much less cramped in-air experience. There’s also this odd sense of camaraderie – even humor – when you travel during a crisis: Everybody knows what everybody else is thinking about, so it’s almost like you can communicate in shorthand.

what to bring when flying coronavirus

But most important to note: That was the single most sanitary flying experience of my life. All I have ever wanted is to be one of those weirdos hazmat-ing everything they touch within an inch of its life…and now I get to do that, and not even look like a weirdo! Everyone on the plane – to a person – came armed with Clorox wipes, and went totally Defcon 5 on their seat, tray table, window, and wall. I could feel people singing “Happy Birthday” (twice!) in their heads while they washed their hands in the terminal bathrooms.


(Also, PS, I was informed that window seats are the best seats to sit in if you’re worried about picking something up, because people tend to touch the tops of the outer seats on their way to and from the bathroom.)

what to bring when flying coronavirus

More Things I Brought With Me, Why Not

– Sanitizer, obvi. Only one little bottle, though. I managed to snag it at my local grocery store only because I was literally standing at the checkout when the delivery guy brought in a new shipment consisting of…one very, very small box. The checkout guy turned to the delivery guy and pointed: “Put them behind the counter! Right here!”

I leaned in, all surreptitious and Bond girl-y: “Can I…maybe buy one?” I may even – lord forgive me – have winked.

“One,” he said.

Fair enough.

Slippers, always. I don’t travel anywhere without my go-to Emu Australia slippers, because I’m a major germaphobe about hotel room floors (and especially carpets; cannot handle). It’s another one of those personal quirks that people used to think was bizarre and now think is brilliant.

– Plastic Bags. I’m a big proponent of having a plastic bag on your person at all times while traveling, simply because you never know, but I think it’s extra-nice to have a few on hand now: As one example, you can pass one around to collect and dispose of the wipes used by other people on the plane, so that they don’t end up stuffed into seat pockets, thereby creating more work for the (already extremely overworked, I imagine) cleaning crew.

The Big Activity Book for Anxious PeopleSeems like a good moment to take my own advice.

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