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Tuesday, March 17: Day 330 – It’s a Wrap

It’s time to go home…nothing to see here…move along!!! Ha!

We were planning to go to New Zealand for five weeks, then spend a few days in Tahiti, and arrive home on May 1.

We were informed by New Zealand that we would have to register upon entering the country and self isolate for two weeks. There was no guarantee that we would be able to join tours, enter museums or participate in other sightseeing opportunities. We would essentially be staying in a hotel room watching movies or reading books.

Tahiti demanded a doctor’s note within five days of entering the country.

Neither one of those options sounded appealing so we saved the itinerary for some other time and rescheduled flights through Houston to Cincinnati.

The virus seems to be more active in cold countries than in the tropic warm weather. If that is indeed true, this virus follows the same pattern as flu. Stale circulated air in winter brings people closer together. Summer and outdoor living helps curb transmission. Time alone will tell, and we can all hope for the best.

I am a microbiologist and Rob has a compromised immune system so I made an air travel game plan.

I was a little concerned about social distancing on a plane ride of 15½ hours with about 500 people!!! Think of the bathroom use!!!!

Our first move was to take a packed van from Port Douglas to Cairns. It is there that we waited for a flight to Sydney. We stayed at a hotel overnight and prepared for our long international flight tomorrow.

I have never seen so many people at the restrooms washing hands. I also wash my phone as I have one that is waterproof.

Also, we were encouraged to scan our own boarding passes so they did not have to touch the papers that we were each holding. I thought that was a great idea. However, one line was doing it that way and the other line was not. As a quality control person, I want to see consistency.

Here is my list for air travel during this time:

  • Prehydrate A LOT. Do not get dry. Mucous membranes can act like a sponge.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking water, using Chapstick, eyedrops, etc. Preferably bring your own water and snacks to eliminate receiving items from the flight attendants.
  • Wear eye coverings as much as possible. This includes sleep masks and sunglasses preferably with a seal and lastly glasses. (You might consider some cool flying goggles for children??)
  • Keep warm by wearing layers, especially by wearing a hat. Get a blanket if needed. This allows our amazing bodies to focus on the immune response instead of spending energy on keeping warm.
  • Wear gloves when possible to keep warm and to provide a barrier.
  • When going to the bathroom, wash your hands well, then use a tissue to open the door and then throw it away ASAP. When you return to your seat, use hand sanitizer.
  • NEVER touch your eyes, nose or mouth. If you must, use a tissue or back of hand or even your shirt.
  • Have chapstick and hand sanitizer handy in your pocket.
  • Have a scarf or bandana to keep around your mouth if necessary.
  • Keep a distance when standing in line.
  • Hold back from the crowd when getting luggage, etc.
  • Face out when in line.
  • Be cautious when getting items from the flight attendants.
  • Try not to talk with others beside you. If necessary, talk sideways in order to avoid the breath of another.
  • Try not to touch anything that isn’t you. Anything handled by somebody else is a fomite and can carry unwanted germs. Anything that is not you should elicit a hand washing event.
  • Pray for God’s protection. Lord, keep a watchful eye on us as we travel. Give us rest and assurance that You are caring for us.

These things are not meant to cause alarm, but serve to mitigate as much exposure as possible. Think of it as a fire drill. Be prepared.

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