What To Pack If You’re Traveling For Thanksgiving

It's been an overwhelming few weeks for most of the world as spikes in new COVID-19 cases have picked up again across the globe. Earlier in the year, many of us found ourselves postponing or canceling travel plans to avoid getting or transmitting the virus — and, for some, this wasn't even a choice as travel restrictions were enforced by both the U.S. and foreign governments. However, there are a number of reasons some people are proceeding with their trips this season from family emergencies to essential work commitments or visits with relatives, especially with Thanksgiving just around the corner. So, for any of our readers who will be on the move in the coming weeks, we've sought out professional advice on how to do so as safely as possible.
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Below, we've rounded up a list of products to pack based on the recommendations of Jill Grimes, MD (an author and urgent care physician at The University of Texas) and Harry Oken, M.D. (a practicing internist and medical advisory board member for Persona Nutrition). We've also included some of our own suggestions, like self-cleaning water bottles and a portable phone charger to keep your appliances alive at all times. While it's best to avoid travel altogether during this unusual era of uncertainty, we recognize that not everyone has that option, so we hope this list comes in handy for anyone that is taking a trip over the holidays.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.

Face Masks

"Ideally, we should all be canceling any unnecessary trips," Dr. Grimes told us at the start of the pandemic. But, there is a list of essentials you should have in your carry-on or suitcase if you're unable to pull the plug on your plans. Of course, you'll need to keep an effective face mask on in all public spaces throughout your journey, but there are a number of other products experts recommend having at the ready in order to remain comfortable and safe.

Easily adjustable styles are a major plus when you've got to keep a face covering on for an extended period of time, and you'll want to opt for one that's been crafted specifically to CDC specifications to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Storage cases are also an efficient way to carry around your back-ups or to keep your mask clean when it's not in use.
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Cleansing Wipes

When flying or taking the bus or the train, inspect your seat before sitting down. “Use an antibacterial towelette to wash your seat, the table attached to the seat and hand rests, and be sure to re-wash your hands,” says Dr. Oken. “If you are flying, turn the overhead air nozzle all the way up and direct slightly away from you to create a laminar airflow away from you.”

Other items to include in your bag are mini-packs of tissues to use and dispose of immediately, or to hand over to someone sharing your row on the plane. And while your focus when traveling may be on keeping your surroundings as clean as possible, don't forget about the germ magnet living in your very own pocket. Considering reports that our iPhones are dirtier than our toilets, it's definitely a good idea to keep some individually wrapped lens wipes handy to quickly remove residue and grime from your screen.

Hand Sanitizer

"Pick up a travel-size hand sanitizer," says Dr. Grimes, adding that this should be applied after touching communal surfaces especially as you may absentmindedly be touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. But there's a right and a wrong way to do this: "Remember it’s important to wash and rub your hands with the sanitizer for a full 20 seconds. Don’t just splash and dash!" she explains.

Immune-Boosting Supplements & Accessories

Pay attention to sleep as it plays a crucial role in refreshing the immune system. If you're sleep-depleted, you’re much more likely to get sick. Traveling with your own pillow or pillowcase can help — it might sound like a hassle, but there are options that tuck right into their own travel cases for easy transportation and protection.

You can also give your immune system a boost with liquid drops and supplements containing naturally antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. For everything you need to know about these "immune boosters" before adding one to your own cart, read this.
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Reusable Food Containers & Drinkware

Dr. Oken also advises being careful about what you’re eating when you're on the move. “Select peeled vegetables and fruit instead of unpeeled, and cooked meat instead of uncooked, unless you feel 100 percent confident in the food preparation,” he explains. The right food could even be an ally in the fight against disease, Dr. Oken says, with certain nutrients like Curcumin possibly containing anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. But no matter what you decide to consume, always ask for your drink without ice and be sure to wash your hands before and after eating. “It’s better to use antibacterial soap instead of gel hand sanitizers. However, if you don’t have the option for soap and water, you should use what you have available.”

A stash of self-sealing food bags is also worth having in your bag as they keep your travel snacks fresh and safe from contaminants.

Tech-Disinfecting Gadgets

When traveling during such uncertain times you'll want to ensure your phone is always charged in case of an emergency. An external charger will power your device with additional hours of battery life so you can stay connected for longer.

There are also disinfecting devices you can pack to ensure that you and your surroundings are as germ-free as possible such as a self-cleaning water bottle that uses UV technology to eliminate up to 99.9999% of bio-contaminants from your water. And to be extra careful in avoiding the spread of the virus, you can include a digital thermometer on your packing list. A key indicator that someone might be infected with COVID-19 is if they're running a fever, so check your temperature ahead of take-off to make sure that someone isn't you.
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Garment-Cleansing Solutions

The first thing you should do when you make it to your destination is to remove and clean any clothing that was exposed to germs or bacteria during your journey. There are a range of laundry soaps that function as nifty travel companions because they're easy to pack and allow for you to effectively wash your clothing (and used masks!) by hand — no machines needed. Extra points for the fact that there are lots of environmentally friendly options to boot!
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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