As the Covid-19 pandemic evolved and more information about transmission became available, guidance about staying healthy while traveling has recently centered on the impact of talking, sneezing, and coughing. The concern over surface-contact transmission has reduced over time. However, as we experience an “early” influenza season in the U.S. (and consider other illnesses which are spread by contact with surfaces) it seems a good time to remember best practices for staying well while traveling.
Many Capital Chapter members are traveling for in-person events and with the holidays and cold season fast approaching, it is key to pay attention to your surroundings to stay as healthy as possible. The pandemic changed our perception of “clean surfaces” and many protocols that were put in place by service providers are slowly being scaled back. Whether you’re walking through a hotel or an airport, there are numerous surfaces that you can be exposed to.
The old saying “I always get sick when I fly” actually has some evidence to back itself up. Studies performed on environmental conditions aboard aircraft have shown that passengers are up to 80% more likely to contract illness in flight than in other conditions which do not involve air travel. Though perhaps the most expected culprit may be the air quality, modern filtration and circulation systems actually keep the air fairly clean (up to 99% filtration). Surfaces, however, are another story. Tray tables regularly top the list of the “germiest” surfaces on a plane, with lavatory flush buttons and door handles yielding similar risk. At the lead is that in-flight magazine that everyone has touched and yet no one has cleaned. Bring along some sanitizing wipes and cover your seating area and all surfaces at boarding time, and again once more if you are aloft for several hours (and maybe skip the crossword).
When checking into your hotel you can feel assured knowing that they have used hospital-grade cleaning products when servicing your room. You will notice, however, that many properties have cut back on specific elements that used to show you the room was clean such as placing the clean TV remote controller in a plastic bag. Housekeeping will focus on high touch points like door knobs, telephones, lamp switches, and TV remotes when cleaning your room. If you opt out of housekeeping services during your stay, it is important to remember those high touch points so you can keep them clean.
Rented event spaces should be cleaned by the management of the venue regularly, and at a minimum prior to occupancy. However, as the space is essentially “yours” once you take possession, it may be necessary to partner with the venue in order to ensure that the space is cleaned to your standards. To aid in communicating with venues about shared expectations, we have included a link to the CDC’s clarification of the terms “Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting”. Establishing your organization’s expectation of cleaning practices is key prior to going onsite, remembering that your staff may need to pitch in on the effort if the venue is not able to provide the level of surface cleaning that you expect.
With these practices in place, we hope that you will enjoy a healthy journey as we continue with the work of in-person meetings. Safe and Healthy Travels!
Mark Harvey, CMP, CMM | Principal | Ethos Meetings and Events
Christina Pino, CMP, DES | Conference Manager | Access Intelligence