Safeish Travels During COVID

What happened: My trustworthy friend and nephew got us to and from the airports, coming and going, with no problems. The flights were definitely the riskiest part of the trip. We flew United, and on two portions of my roundtrip flight, I was seated right next to total strangers — no skipped seats. One lady climbed over me to catch her connecting flight in Chicago. Social distancing was impossible. Literally everyone walked past me twice, within a foot, boarding and deplaning. Thankfully all were wearing masks.

Everyone was allowed to remove their masks in the plane when eating or drinking, including the lady beside me who kept coughing. I carefully kept my mask on, didn’t touch my face and skipped snacks to eliminate mask removal. I repeatedly hand sanitized. We were provided with sealed, boxed food and bottled water and a sanitizing wipe on the plane, so no need to buy airport food. I ate this airline lunch at the airport where social distancing was much easier. All flight staff kept their masks on during my flights.

I was adamant about wiping down my airplane area as planned. But not the aisle chair or airport restrooms — no time. I asked before each transfer into an aisle chair if it had been sanitized and staff always said yes. I used gobs of hand sanitizer anytime I touched anything throughout the flights and airports. I diligently washed my hands when I had access to soap and water. The hardest place to maintain social distancing at the airports was going through security.

At the Hotel

My Plan: I packed isopropyl alcohol and a refillable mister bottle to sanitize our hotel room surfaces upon arrival. Disinfectant spray was sold out everywhere I looked, so I planned to use 70% rubbing alcohol. It works, too. To minimize possible exposure, I’d ask the hotel staff to clean only once a week. Still, I planned to spray everything with alcohol after anyone entered our room.

What Happened: The entire Cleveland Clinic campus, including hotel, required non-contact temperature checks upon each entry of all buildings, and mandatory masks. Good protocol! The hotel made it very easy for us to skip the daily cleaning. Housekeeping allowed us to set our trash outside the door for collection and they were great about bringing us requested items like towels and shampoo.
We dropped the ball on the alcohol surface spraying in the room. We were honestly exhausted when we arrived and simply collapsed when we should have been disinfecting surfaces.

Food & Transportation

My Plan: I requested a room with microwave and fridge so we could make our own food. I Googled the hotel location and found a grocery store three blocks away, and, you guessed it, planned to spray anything we bought with isopropyl alcohol once in our room.
Our hotel is close to the hospital, so there is no need for shuttles. After any outings, I’d spray alcohol on my chair wheels and shoe bottoms when we returned to the room.

What Happened: Grocery ordering and delivery worked great using Instacart, and we dutifully alcohol-sprayed all groceries. Our limited “kitchen” was sufficient, but only because it was short-term. I packed two bottles of foaming soap and still had to buy more, as we washed hands a lot. About half the time, we remembered to spray my wheels and bottoms of shoes. We preferred wheeling/walking to the hospital. We needed to take the clinic’s shuttle three times, but it was sanitized between riders.

Overall, my plan turned out to be pretty good. Key actions were keeping my mask on and staying hyper-aware of anything that I touched so I could sanitize/wash my hands immediately.

We have been home for over a month now. We are all healthy, including my son whose surgery was a complete success. That makes it worth the trip.

** This post was originally published on

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