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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most of us are respecting the orders to stay at home. As a result, some are looking for ways to pass the time. If you’re a regular visitor to our site, you’ll know that we live with germaphobia, anxiety, and OCD — so it should be no surprise that our first post in over a month is about spring cleaning for travelers!
We’re already a family that is very anxious about cold and flu season, but this COVID-19 outbreak is a whole nother level. Rather than be panicked by it, though, we’re finding ways to be productive. Okay, let’s be honest, though — some days, the only thing we can handle is some deep breathing, a bowl of chips, and Netflix. If you’re feeling the same way, that’s totally fine. We need to be gentle with ourselves during this crazy time!
As the weather warms up, though, you might be tempted to throw open the windows and get some fresh air. Whenever we do that, we feel inspired to tidy up. Ready to do some spring cleaning, too? Here are some tips for getting things in order so you’re ready to go when we’re allowed to start traveling again.
We’re not suggesting you clean your passport (unless you have a Purlite or similar UV sanitizing device!), but now is a good time to give it a once over. Is it current or expiring soon? Are there any visas you need to apply for? The last thing you want is to be cleared for travel and discover that your passport isn’t valid, so use this time to get everything in order!
Visit the website of your country’s issuing agency and see if they are processing applications. Right now, the United States is not issuing any passports except in cases of emergency. Even if you can’t get a replacement, it’s still good to know whether the one you have is expired.
Boarding Passes & Travel Documents
We stuff a lot of papers in the pockets of our travel backpacks and carry-on bags while we’re running from gate to gate. Now’s a good time to clear everything out and see what you’ve got. Do you have boarding passes or travel documents that you want/need to keep? You can tuck them away somewhere or you can scan them into a digital format.
With everything that’s going on, you might want to sort through these papers someplace “dirty” like in your mudroom or laundry room. We open all of our mail in a designated area, and then when we’re done, we wash our hands thoroughly to avoid contamination.
Spring Cleaning Your Travel Gear
Backpacks and suitcases are dragged through city streets, hotels, airports, and more. When was the last time you cleaned up your luggage? It’s not uncommon to see baggage handlers in Japan wiping them down, but most of us never do it ourselves.
Spring cleaning for travelers includes some unique steps, so here’s a short checklist:
- Wipe down your suitcases, carry-ons, and backpacks
- Look for damage to zippers, seams, and wheels
- Did you lose or damage anything that needs to be replaced?
- Are you low on travel toiletries?
As a quick note: we avoid transferring germs and/or bacteria by not bringing luggage onto carpeted areas or our beds. If you’ve got a garage, consider cleaning these items out there or on uncarpeted flooring inside your home. Additionally, you might want to some sort of sanitizing measures to clean up once you’re done.
Credit Cards & Loyalty Programs
When was the last time you reassessed your relationship with your credit cards and loyalty programs? The perks and annual fees change all the time, so it’s worth spending some time evaluating which ones are worth your while. We’ve written a post about the best travel credit cards and rewards programs for 2020, so you might want to check that out, too.
In the meantime, here are some steps you can take:
- Are the benefits worth the fees?
- Which cards or programs no longer serve you?
- Should you join different rewards programs?
- Are there any noteworthy promotions going on right now?
- How have these businesses treated you during this pandemic?
Many of us are experiencing financial hardship during this pandemic, so it’s even more important than ever to ensure that we are spending wisely. Also, it might be worth reaching out to credit card companies and asking whether they are providing any relief for their loyal customers. It’s worth a shot!
Our Attitudes & Practices
If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll know that criticism comes with the territory. In addition to people constantly asking how we afford it, there are some common questions that we’re regularly asked:
- Don’t you care about how flights affect our climate?
- Are the hotels where you stay sustainable?
- Do you try to avoid contributing to overtourism?
- What steps do you take to avoid spreading disease?
- Are you a mindful traveler?
- Do you purchase travel insurance for every trip?
Honestly, we could go on and on. The reality is that we’re seeing how the air pollution in China and U.S. cities is dramatically clearing up as people stay indoors. In fact, the average number of “good quality air days” on our planet increased 21.5% in February 2020.
As recently as January of this year, there were protests in some of Europe’s most historic cities because they were frustrated with overtourism. Lonely Planet justly said that the issue took center stage in 2019. There are even articles about how overtourism turned deadly on Mount Everest!
Here are some other links that might be thought-provoking as we reevaluate our lives right now:
- Coronavirus May Have Caused the Earth to Stop Vibrating So Much
- Coronavirus Lockdown Likely Saved 77,000 Lives In China Just By Reducing Pollution
- ‘Worse Than Anyone Expected’: Air Travel Emissions Vastly Outpace Predictions
As part of our spring cleaning for travelers tips, we’re encouraging everyone to consider their impact on this Earth that we all love so much. We’ll openly admit that we have been selfish. We’ve buried our heads in the sand ignoring the problems to which we might be contributing, as well.
Spring Cleaning for Travelers Souls
While we’re wiping down our suitcases and clearing out the clutter, we’re also cleaning up our attitudes. Despite how hard social distancing can be (and how sad it is to cancel trips), we’re seeing some major positives right now. We’re learning to live with less and appreciate what we have. We’re also striving to carry that attitude over into how we travel in the future.
There’s no doubt that we are enriched by the places we’ve visited, but it can’t come at the expense of locals. We aren’t passing judgment on anyone, but welcoming this opportunity to do better in our own lives. These days, the focus is all too often on getting the perfect shot for Instagram rather than being fully immersed in what we’re experiencing. We want to understand our role as global citizens better, and we’re hoping that something good can come from this difficult time.
Either way, cleaning up your travel gear and getting things in order might feel good right now. Reminisce on the good times you’ve had and believe in all of the memories we’ll be making on vacations and getaways in the future. We’ll get through this, one day at a time, together. <3