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Health & Wellness Travel Tips & Advice

Should You: Wear Gloves When You Go Out?; Rebook Now, Or Cancel?

Will wearing gloves protect you from COVID-19? We answer this question and ones on cleaning your house of the novel coronavirus, refueling, and more in this month’s edition of our travel advice column, Check Your Baggage.

Q. “I see lots of people wearing latex gloves when out at the grocery store and on walks now. Should I be wearing one? Will it help protect me against COVID-19?” –TJ

A. The first thing that you should know is that there is a shortage of medical gloves in some area (see the FDA’s FAQ on the shortage of medical gloves here) so please do not hoard mass quantities of gloves or buy them if you truly don’t need them.

The second thing you should know is that wearing gloves is not a magical barrier against COVID-19, or any other germs. If you’re wearing gloves and you touch a surface that has COVID-19 on it, and then touch your face with your gloved hands, you’ll transfer the virus just as easily if you had bare hands. According to the CDC, you can also easily contaminate your hands when taking off the gloves, so it’s important to thoroughly wash your hands after wearing them.

Gloves can give a false sense of security, making people more lax about handwashing—the best strategy for most people is to practice social distancing and wash hands correctly and often.

Note that the CDC does advise that people taking care of someone who has COVID-19 should wear gloves “when you touch or have contact with the patient’s blood, stool, or body fluids.”

Watch this quick video for recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) regarding disposable gloves. Want more expert tips? Subscribe to SmarterTravel on YouTube!

Q. “Do you have any recommendations for comfortable but presentable work-from-home clothes?”– TT

A. My work-from-home/isolation uniform is pretty much the same as what I wear for long-haul flights—in both instances I want to be as comfortable as possible, but still look somewhat pulled-together, which makes me feel better mentally.

Fleece lined leggings in black with side pockets are warm but still look (kind of) pants-like, and a quarter-zip sweater on top looks professional on video chat. I deviate from the flying outfit while at home with a pair of cozy slippers, since I don’t have to navigate to any airplane bathrooms.

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Q. “I want to travel as soon as it’s safe again. Should I book my next trip now, with insurance, or wait? If I book something for June, and travel restrictions are still in place, will I get my money back?” – KT

A. The travel industry needs your bookings now more than ever—but don’t rely on insurance as a safety net when buying a vacation right now. Since COVID-19 is now a known event, anything that you book now likely wouldn’t be covered if you had to cancel due to the pandemic in the future.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t book with confidence. Plenty of booking sites and airlines are relaxing their cancellation and change policies to encourage booking. Just be sure to carefully read the policies before booking anything.

[st_related]The Dos and Don’ts of Cancelling a Trip Due to COVID-19[/st_related]

Q. “Now that I have lots of time on my hands, I’m cleaning my house more often. Is there anything special I should be doing to clean my house of potential coronavirus?” – GH

A. The CDC has a very helpful coronavirus-themed guide to cleaning your house here. Focus your efforts on cleaning and disinfecting “high-touch surfaces” in common areas (such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks, and hard-backed chairs).

In order to properly disinfect surfaces, make sure that you’re using alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol, or a diluted household bleach solution. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work as well—the CDC recommends this list of products that has been compiled by the American Chemistry Council.

If everywhere is sold out of Clorox wipes, you can make your own bleach solution by mixing 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.

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Q. “Are hotels required to have carbon monoxide detectors?”– XE

A. Shockingly, it depends on where you’re staying. Only 14 states legally require hotels and motels to have carbon monoxide detectors installed. Laws vary internationally as well, so it’s definitely not guaranteed that your hotel will be equipped with one. If you’re concerned, you can buy a travel-sized carbon monoxide detector to bring along with you wherever you go.

Q. “I tried to look up a hotel on the Bedbug Registry but it looks like the site hasn’t been updated in many years. Is it still a good place to check to see if a hotel has been flagged for bedbugs?” – SC

A. The Bedbug Registry has gone out of date, but BedbugsReports.com (a similar site) is still active. I generally just search TripAdvisor (our parent company) reviews for a property I’m considering booking for the term “bedbugs” or “bugs” as a quick precaution.

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Does the Bedbug Registry Still Work? How to Find Out Whether Your Hotel is Infested[/st_related]

Got a burning travel question you want to see answered in next month’s column? Do you vehemently disagree with my answers to this month’s questions? Comment below or send me an e-mail at editor@smartertravel.com with the subject line: Check Your Baggage.

Editor’s Note: Submitted questions have been edited for clarity and length.

Working From Home? Make It Comfy:

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Caroline Morse Teel is a Senior Editor at SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline for photos from around the world. 

By Caroline Morse Teel

Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo, Boston.com, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!"

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Travel Motto: "Don't be boring."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle (when the first class private suite isn't available)."

E-mail her at cmorse@smartertravel.com.

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