How to Stay Safe When Flying During COVID-19

Sometimes travel is unavoidable. Here are our top tips for staying healthy.

If you're like most people, you probably haven't been on a flight in nearly six months. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of the world has stayed home as much as possible since March. But as things begin to steadily reopen, travel may become an inevitability for many even before we have a vaccine. Sure, things aren't quite as dire as they were in the days of Tiger King binging and banana bread making, but flying on an airplane is still a decidedly high-risk activity.

Think about it: Before you even board the airplane you have likely already come in contact with a variety of airport employees, other passengers in the security line and boarding area, and breathed the same air as hundreds of other people. That's not to mention the airplane itself, which, according to USA Today, "offers more potential for exposure to the coronavirus than other forms of travel because of the configuration of planes."

It's unlikely you'll be able to maintain a six foot distance from all passengers at all times (even if you're flying on an airline that doesn't allow people to use middle seats), all passengers will be using the same bathroom, and you have to maintain proximity to other passengers possibly for hours at a time.

So, with all of that said, our number one tip is: Don't fly if you can possibly avoid it.

Of course, sometimes there's no getting around the need to get on an airplane. If you're sure your trip is absolutely necessary, than try to take comfort in the fact that experts agree it is much safer to fly now than it was at the beginning of the pandemic, in large part thanks to the additional steps airlines have employed to keep passengers safe. But there's also plenty that you can do to minimize your risk.

Wear a mask

Mask infographic

At this point, this should be obvious. But in case you're considering rocking up to the airport mask-free, it's worth reiterating: absolutely do NOT fly without a mask. You're not only putting yourself at risk, you're also putting all the people around you at risk (not to mention that they probably won't even let you in the airport with your face uncovered). In fact, United, American and Delta have made it clear that they will ban any passengers who refuse to wear a mask on their flights.

Wipe down your seat

staying safe while flying

USA Today

A lot of people have hand sanitizer on them at all times these days anyways, but if that isn't you, definitely stock up before your flight. The good news is the TSA has decided to allow travelers to bring hand sanitizer containers as big as 12 ounces instead of the usual 3.4-ounces in their carry-on bags, meaning it should be easy to bring plenty of sanitizer on your flight. Use it on your hands often, obviously, but also use it with a tissue or paper towel to wipe down your seat and everything around it that you may touch during your flight. The CDC recommends using a sanitizer that's at least 60% alcohol. A disinfectant wipe (sold in most airports) will also do the trick for wiping down your seat.

Choose a window seat

covid-19 airplane

Insider

Experts believe your risk of infection while flying is decreased when you're sitting in a window seat. According to Charles Gerba, a professor of virology at the University of Arizona who has also studied germs on planes, said that "Because people are walking by you in the aisle seat, it's shown in outbreaks and norovirus that people are more likely to get ill if they sit on the aisle because people are touching surfaces and walking by. So based on norovirus outbreaks, the window seat is better."

Open your air vent

airplane air vent

We all know that you're much less likely to catch COVID-19 when outdoors thanks to air circulation. The same principle applies to indoor spaces, like airplanes, as well. The average airplane ventilation system brings in fresh air from outside and filters nearly 99.9% microbes out of the air, creating a surprisingly safe breathing situation for passengers.

Not only that, but many experts are now attributing the downward flow of the air to low COVID-19 infection rates on airplanes. Dr. Sandra Ciesek of the Institute for Medical Virology at Goethe University in Frankfurt wrote that air from the vents in airplane cabins ultimately flows to the ground, which may help to reduce the spread of airborne particles containing the virus. While more research is needed, we do know for sure that more air=less virus particles, so keep those vents open and flowing.

Come prepared

airplane snacks

The less you interact with other people on your flight, the better. This includes flight attendants, who are at high risk of infection given how many people they interact with per day. To avoid frequent interaction and conversation with flight attendants, bring your own snacks, pillows and blankets, and plenty of water.

This is a good idea in order to keep yourself healthy, but depending on the airline you choose, it may also be necessary given how many airlines have reduced in-flight services during the pandemic.

When removing your mask to eat or drink, make sure you don't place it on a surface that hasn't been disinfected, like a cloth seat, and make sure there are as few people around as possible before removing your mask.

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There are several things about wine that can confuse the average person. If you haven't spent the last few years of your life learning everything there is to know about wine, you can be forgiven for picking up a box of the good stuff every now and then. However, if you want to know a little bit more about how to choose a good bottle, we can help you out. We've created a beginner's guide to picking a bottle of wine so you can enjoy yourself a little more.

Know What Type of Wine To Choose

First things first, you're going to need to decide the type of wine that you're looking for in order to narrow your search. Are you looking for a red, white, sparkling, or rosé? The choices may seem overwhelming, but try to focus on what foods you'll be pairing the wine with. Reds go great with heavier meals like red meat, while whites tend to lend themselves towards lighter dishes like fish and cheeses. If you'll be drinking the wine on its own, consider what you've tried in the past and what type you tend to gravitate toward.

Know How Much You're Willing To Spend

It's no secret that a penchant for wine can become an expensive hobby. If you're just getting into the idea, don't waste your time or money with the extremely pricey bottles. A good place to start looking for decent bottles of wine is somewhere between the $10 and $30 price range. This will keep you from buying something too low quality without breaking your bank in the process.

Read the Labels Closely

A good bottle of wine will often give tasting notes right on the bottle. Because everyone's palette is different, you may not get the same notes when you try the wine, but it's a good place to start. Choose something with tasting notes that you already enjoy like berries or cocoa and try to see if you get any hints of that as you drink. The labels may also tell you about the wine's acidity, or how tart it is, and the wine's body, or the way it feels in your mouth.

A beginner's guide to picking a bottle of wine can only go so far without being overwhelming. The next part of your wine journey will need to be undertaken on your own. Try various types of wine and see what tastes best to you—that's what wine is really all about.

Distillery tours went on hiatus in 2020, but there are high hopes for 2021. While bourbon leaps immediately to mind when thoughts turn to distillery tours, interest in other spirits and how they're made is increasing. Here are a few of the best tours to thrill tequila lovers.

Tequila Herradura

Ride in style on the Herradura Express, a distillery sponsored train ride that runs from Guadalajara to the town of Amatitán for a distillery tour and tastings, followed by lunch featuring live entertainment. The train then takes visitors back to Guadalajara by evening. Herradura is housed in the last tequila-producing Hacienda in the world, Hacienda San Jose del Refugio. Casa Herradura will be closed for visits and tours until Mexican health officials declare the coronavirus emergency over.

La Rojeña

Producer of Jose Cuervo, La Rojeña has a train of its own called the Jose Cuervo Express (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) to bring visitors to the oldest distillery in the town of Tequila. Jose Cuervo offers distillery tours, tastings, and tours of the agave fields. Mundo Cuervo (Cuervo world) also has its own hotel, Solar de las Animas. Check for COVID-19 hours and restrictions before booking.

Casa Sauza

Founded in 1873, Casa Sauza offers four levels of tours including a visit to the La Perseverancia distillery, a visit to the Quinta Sauza estate, and for those willing to spend more, barrel tastings and a barbeque or a three-course meal. Casa Sauza is on hiatus until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but should go on the distillery tour bucket list.

La Cofradia

The only tequila distillery with a hotel inside, La Cofradia offers many experiences in addition to distillery tours. Choose a hike through natural trails, biking, or horseback riding through the agave fields. Rooms made of giant tequila barrels sit among the agave plants for a unique stay. Visiting La Cofradia is sure to be a tour that thrills tequila lovers. Contact the hotel directly for information about lockdown closures.

A distillery tour offers education about tequila's history and manufacture. Bone up on your tequila terms and tips for choosing quality tequila before you go, so you'll understand what you're tasting.

We don't know how to feel about winter this year. Sure, nobody likes the cold and dreary months, but there's something special about the Holiday season that just seems to be missing. Maybe the thought of staying inside and cozying up to a nice book isn't very enticing given the last few months. The joyful winter wonderland that we usually associate with winter seems to be missing.

That's why our editors decided to take it upon themselves and spread some delight with seasonal meals, courtesy of HelloFresh. For those who don't know what HelloFresh is, it's a meal-kit delivery service with dozens of easy-to-prepare recipes to choose from. Simply select which meals you want as well as how many servings and a neatly organized cardboard box will arrive at your doorstep within the week. Nobody wants to go out in the Winter anyway, and with HelloFresh, you don't have to!

To celebrate the arrival of the coldest season, we decided to highlight some of our favorite (and heartiest) recipes from HelloFresh that are perfect for the Holiday season. Here are five wholesome and balanced meals that will warm you up in no time.

Veggie Loaded Kale & Risoni Soup

A hearty and warm soup is a Winter staple and this veggie loaded kale and risoni soup from HelloFresh absolutely hits it out of the park. All anybody wants during the colder months is to feel cozy and nurtured--just like the flavorful bowl of nutrients. Warm and creamy risoni compliments the seasonal veggies perfectly and the side of garlic bread is a sure-fire cure for any winter blues. With 22 meals to pick from each week, this one is sure to be a household favorite.

Cheesy Red Pesto Chicken Melts

Everyone is familiar with classic green pesto, but have you ever tried red pesto? Red pesto offers way more complexity and oomph than its green counterpart. It is incredibly bright with rich notes of umami, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and garlic. This rendition also features hits of chargrilled capsicum for a little extra zest. You get the exact amount of each ingredient and seasoning, as well as super detailed recipe cards, that make meal prep a breeze. Spread it over a glistening chicken bread and sprinkle with cheese for delectable chicken melts.

Winter Risotto

Risotto is a great winter warmer. It's packed full of veggies so your body will light up like fire, but it's also silky, sumptuous and a real crowd pleaser. HelloFresh's Winter Risotto features a heart helping of kale that pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan and crunchy walnuts for a robust taste. Did we mention that it also comes with fennel seeds sprinkled throughout? This unique seasoning adds a distinctive, yet delicious flavor to this classic winter staple. We know these meals are pretty hardy, which is why we love having the option to pause our subscription or cancel a week when need be.

Cheat's Italian Pork & Veggie Bolognese

A bolognese that only takes 30 minutes to make? Sign us up! This one is chock full of all the rich flavors of a classic Italian sauce. In fact, we're getting some serious Italian grandmother vibes with this recipe. Silky baby Spanish and grated carrots melt into a hearty meat sauce, offering a mouth-watering meal for anyone looking for a little zest. It's delivery quality, but much more affordable, plus you get to cook it yourself!

Smokey Mild Chorizo & Bean Chilli

Yet another clever twist on a weekday favorite! The paprika and garlic flavored cured sausage is a staple in our chopping baskets since it goes well with practically anything. Not only is Chorizo loved for its taste, but also for its ability to infuse sauces with its tantalizing flavor. This time around, HelloFresh has decided to spice up a classic bowl of bean chili with Spanish styling of a smokey mild chorizo. The end result? A mix of chorizo, red kidney beans, corn and avocado, and an irresistible flavor that everyone will love. This is just one of dozens of unique HelloFresh recipes you won't find anywhere else!

Gone are the days of trekking through the frigid cold just for a few groceries. Sign-up for HelloFresh today and get your ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. Time to start cozying up the right way, with a delicious meal and a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Update: Our friends at HelloFresh are extending a special Black Friday offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $90 off across 4 boxes including free shipping!