Tips to Enjoy the Outdoors and Still Be Safe during COVID19 - Avathi Guidelines for Travel and Outdoor Activities

by Shalom Sanjay | COVID-19 Travel Tips

May 21, 2024

Tips to Enjoy the Outdoors and Still Be Safe during COVID19 - Avathi Guidelines for Travel and Outdoor Activities

The COVID-19 Pandemic is far from over and can seem extremely daunting. Things are not straight forward any more and at Avathi Outdoors, we want to make it easier for people to get outdoors and enjoy the outdoors responsibly. Avathi Outdoors has put together a list of things to keep in mind while travelling. We also answer some FAQs at the end of the article.

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Why travel or go outdoors?

With WFH, we spend hours indoors plopped in front of the laptop or in front of television screens zoned out on the next show Netflix has to offer. Over time, this can have negative effects on your physical and mental health. Home workouts can provide you with adequate exercise but did you know that lack of sun exposure can cause your serotonin levels to dip? It can also cause vitamin D deficiency and take a toll on your sleeping patterns. 

For urban cities, going outdoors simply means hitting up a nearby mall, eating out at a restaurant, getting a drink at a pub or shopping at commercial centers within the city. While this may satisfy your craving to leave your apartment, it’s not the safest way to enjoy going outside. 

Overcrowded and filled with people, these spots aren’t the best to maintain social distancing. They do increase your chances of COVID-19 infection. Moreover, it doesn’t give you your required dose of vitamin D, exercise and serotonin. 

As things improve, it is better to get back into the outdoors but with caution. Traveling to close by places, camping under the night sky, taking long treks or even bird watching, are great ways to stay safe while taking a break from being cooped up indoors. 

Tips to safely get outdoors.

When the COVID situation has improved and you can go outdoors once again, here are some tips to stay safe when you leave your home. 

Plan it out


A great trip begins with good planning and the same is true for a safe trip. Knowledge is power, so equip yourself with more than a bottle of hand sanitizer and a mask before heading outdoors. 

  1. Green zones- A green zone is a region where the majority of people are deemed recovered or don’t meet the criteria for testing. While planning your getaway, make sure you check out the green zones and determine what zone you are currently in. 
    You can keep track of green zones as well as other updates on the COVID-19 situation using the site: https://covid19.karnataka.gov.in/page/Visiting+As/I+am+Citizen/en
    https://www.mygov.in/covid-19/
    You can also simply type in ‘Green zones in _____’ into Google and it should give you the latest list of red and green zones in a particular region.
  2. What’s the insiders scoop?- After you’ve picked your destination, stay up to date on the latest news about the place. Is travel allowed? What hospitals are recommended in the area you’re headed to, or what safety precautions are being followed in the region? Knowing the insiders scoop helps you plan better!
  3. Keep track of your health- Are you feeling a little under the weather? Understanding and knowing your symptoms can make a huge difference. 
    The main symptoms of the COVID-19 virus includes:
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
    If you’re exhibiting any or all of these symptoms, refrain from traveling and make sure you get a test as soon as possible. It’s also better to take a test before you travel (especially if you are going with a group) in case you are asymptomatic.

4.  Get an oximeter- A pulse oximeter is a test to measure the oxygen level (oxygen saturation) of the blood. It’s an easy, painless measure of how well oxygen is being sent to the different parts of your body. In some cases, you might think ‘it’s just a fever’ and overlook your oxygen levels. Investing in an oximeter for your trip or just to keep at home, can help you know when you need to take further measures. 

 

Important tips for travel 

  1. Daytrips over long trips:
    Instead of taking a long overnight trip, try a day trip instead! Head to a beautiful trekking location and hike to the top or visit an organic farm and pick fruits from the orchard. You’ll be able to enjoy the outdoors without staying too long outside. As a bonus, you can take a trip over the weekend without taking leave from work.
  2. Stay close to home- If you are going for multiple days, pick a location close to where you live. In case you need to travel back sooner than expected or need help urgently, you’ll be able to make it back home without the headache of traveling a long distance. If states go into lockdown because of the sudden rise in cases, you’ll be able to reach home quickly before travel between districts are restricted. Keep these things in mind when picking your location.
  3. Take your own vehicle- While air travel or taking the bus and train might seem easier, it will still put you in contact with a large number of people and surfaces that may not be disinfected. You might also end up stuck if flights are canceled. Take your own car or bike to your planned location. As a bonus, you can use your vehicle to sightsee or try a fun experience of ‘destination hopping’.
  4. Stock up on necessities-Pack your own food and bottles of water for the journey. This will stop you from making multiple stops on your way and from eating food from places that might not meet the COVID-19 hygiene standards.
  5. Stop only when you need to- While traveling, you will need to take breaks to stretch your legs or use the toilet. If you’re stopping to use the loo, take stock of the place to see if it’s clean and well-maintained. Avoid touching too many surfaces and carry your own hand wash and other toiletries to use. Don’t touch the handles of doors or taps directly, you can use wet wipes or a tissue paper to use these facilities and disinfect your hands after. Try to choose places where the number of people are at a minimum.
  6. Scrub-a-dub-dub – Remember, while hand sanitizer is a great quick option to clean your hands, nothing beats good ol’ fashioned soap and water. Wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth without scrubbing your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Make sure you wash your mask thoroughly with soap and water after each use as well.
  7. Mask it- Are you using the right kind of mask while traveling? A single cloth mask is not the most effective. So make sure you’re wearing a N95 mask, or try wearing a cloth mask with a surgical mask.  You can check the effectiveness of your mask with the candle flame test. Wear your mask and try to blow out the flame of a candle. The flame should continue to burn no matter how hard you blow. For more info on types of mask, check out- 
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/types-of-masks.html
    https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-face-masks-what-you-need-to-know
    https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/coronavirus/9-types-of-masks-and-how-effective-they-are

 

What to do once you get there
You’ve made it! You’re at your holiday destination and its beautiful; plenty of warm golden sunshine, lush greenery dripping off trees and an open sky like a giant ocean of blue. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you enjoy the outdoors. 

  1. Social distance- Maintain a distance of at least 6 ft between you and anybody new you might encounter. If you’re traveling in a group, this group is your bubble and you should limit contact with anybody outside of the group.
  2. Mask on!- Wear your mask at all times when interacting with people. In case you’re trekking and you need to wear a mask, keep an eye out for dizziness or breathlessness and take breaks without your mask, away from the other trekkers. We’d recommend trekking only with your own group or going solo.
  3. Don’t share food- Make sure you eat only from your plate and don’t share your food with other people. The same goes for your beverages. Keep a glass or a bottle that only you will use. Carry your own cutlery whenever possible.
  4. Eat home-cooked food- Avoid eating out and prepare your own meals. As an added benefit, this is also budget-friendly and healthy! Moreover, when you’re camping and you make your own food in the outdoors, it can elevate the camping experience.

What if you show symptoms while travelling?
 

Despite taking every measure, in the unlikely event you do get infected with the virus, don’t panic. 

  1. Isolate- Your first step is to move away from your group and stop the virus from spreading. Make sure you stay in a room that has an attached bathroom and ask for food to be brought to your room door. In case you need anything specific, ask your loved ones to help you out. The most important thing to do is to avoid meeting anyone.
  2. Check your oxygen levels- Your handy oximeter is your main tool to care for your health. Monitor your oxygen levels and temperature as frequently as possible. In case your oxygen levels are low, get help immediately at the nearest COVID-19 care recommended hospital.
  3.  Get tested- A test will determine whether you have contracted the virus or not. Instead of stepping out to the nearest hospital, call them and ask if the test can be conducted at home. Your results should take a minimum of 2-3 days. So be patient and care for yourself the same way you would if you had caught a regular flu.
  4.  Inform- This is an important part that should not be overlooked. Tell your loved ones about your results. In case you are positive, reach out to people you have come in contact with and tell them to get tested as well.
  5.  Think positively- This can often be a tough step to follow. Your immune system is indirectly linked to your thoughts. Ifyou panic or worry, you will adversely affect your immune system. Remember to think positive thoughts and take one day at a time. While there are critical cases of COVID-19, there are also numerous cases of recovery. With the right care, your body will be as good as new in no time!

Although the spread of the COVID-19 virus has changed the fabric of our lives irreversibly, it has also taught us a few things that we needed to learn. Now, we know how important it is to stop and smell the roses, to make every moment count and to spend time with our loved ones making meaningful memories that will last in our hearts forever. 

Return to the outdoors and spend your days living life to the fullest, with the people you cherish at your side. And remember, every day is a brand new adventure! 

FAQs for Outdoor travel during COVID-19 pandemic

Can flying on an airplane increase my chances of COVID-19 infection? 
Yes, although precautions are being taken in airports for safe travel, crowded flights can put you in contact with many people and frequently touched surfaces. Moreover, you may have to sit close to other people on the flight (within 6 ft) for a few hours, which will increase your exposure to the virus.

What are some of the websites I can use to check for COVID-19 updates and info? 
We live in the age of information and unfortunately many forwards or articles touted as COVID-19 must-dos might not be factually accurate and may harm you in the long run. Here are some sites that post verified information about the COVID-19 virus. These websites also include international sources: 
1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/using-transportation.html
2. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
3.  https://www.covid19india.org/
4. https://www.mygov.in/covid-19/
 

What is a ‘support bubble’?
A support bubble or known as simply ‘a bubble’ refers to people in your household or a small group whose movements and interactions you can track and verify, and who you interact with frequently. Staying within your support bubble can eliminate contact with outsiders and decrease your chances of contracting the COVID1-19 virus. For this reason, traveling with only your support bubble is also a safer way to travel. 

How do I pick a place to stay while traveling? 
Staying at a new place can be daunting during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This is why we recommend camping instead. Many campsites and homestays have a Bring Your Own Tent (BYOT) option.You can also pick stays only after checking the COVID-19 precautions that they follow. It’s best to avoid stays that have bulk bookings or many people staying there. You can easily check the above by calling ahead or visiting the website of the stay. It’s also vital that you carry all the necessities you require for COVID-19 Safety rather than depending on your stay to provide them for your use. 

Why is it necessary to take a test before traveling as well as after traveling? 
Taking a test before you travel allows you to ascertain if you’re well enough to go to another destination. You don’t want to be sick and far away from your resources at home. It also prohibits the spread of the COVID-19 virus to others. Taking a test after you return is also important as you can monitor your health and in case you’ve been exposed to the virus during your trip, you can take the measures you need immediately. 

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