contactless payment

Find smart ways to experience contactless travel. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

The How-To’s of Contactless Travel

Long before COVID-19 affected the travel industry, savvy travelers were already using their smartphones and credit cards for contactless travel. Why? Because contactless interactions make travel that much easier, quicker and safer.

Now that the whole world is being advised by health experts to physically distance from others and be conscious of touching surfaces, companies (especially those in the travel industry) are being forced to adapt to contactless technology or risk being left behind.

Here are some ways for you to minimize your contact with germs on your next trip.


If you haven’t already downloaded the app for the airline you’re flying on all your devices, then stop what you’re doing and do it now. Pretty much every airline offers a free app across all platforms where passengers can do everything from checking flight status to booking tickets.

This is where you will want to create an account if you don’t already have one (and link your frequent flyer number) so you can check in for your flight.

airline app at airport
Download your airlines app and mobile b boarding pass. (Photo: Getty Images)

If you’re not checking bags, then you can go straight to security and then to the lounge (if you have access) or the gate, and you will never have to spend more than a few seconds with anyone unless it’s an international flight. The gate agents will want to verify your passport and any visas if they’re required.

Carry disinfectant wipes so you can clean your phone often and/or passport cover, especially if you happen to touch your phone to any readers (think of all the others that have touched those devices).

Many airlines also offer to stream their in-flight entertainment right from their app, so you don’t have to touch the airplane screens. Bring headphones and a larger device like a tablet so you can watch their selection of movies and TV shows if you don’t already have your own.

Getting Around

Going to and from the airport, use ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft or a luxury car service like Blacklane. One of the many perks of using these services is that you don’t need to speak the local language to get around when traveling internationally and you don’t have to carry or touch cash.

woman in face mask using ride share
Consider a ride share service. (Photo: Getty Images)


Just like the airlines, hotels have been finding ways to help customers go contactless and have been utilizing mobile check-in for years. Because of the pandemic, they’re fast-tracking this offering, as few travelers want to hang out in a lobby these days. Before checking in to your hotel, download the Marriott Bonvoy App and create an account, if you haven’t already.

You can call the hotel the day before your trip and ask the front desk to assign you your desired room (you can even request a room on a low floor so you can take the stairs rather than the public elevator).

Once you arrive, or even beforehand, you’ll be able to check into your room using your app and, if available, have a mobile room key delivered to your device.


Get a taste of local grub ordering directly from local restaurants who are delivering or doing curbside pickup (with mobile payments), or by using a delivery app like Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash or Grubhub to find nearby restaurants with tasty eats. Of course, in-room dining at your hotel is another option. Regardless of which you choose, you can order, pay, tip and track the order all from your phone, so all you have to do is open your room door and, voila, your meal is delivered!

contactless credit card
Pay for meals using contactless credit cards. (Photo: Getty Images)

Credit Cards

Speaking of paying for things … these days, very few travelers carry cash on them. Not only are paper notes full of germs, but they also make travelers more vulnerable to theft and getting ripped off. When you travel, it can be wise to have little more than $20 cash on you and to pay with a credit card whenever possible.

Credit cards, especially the right ones, offer the best exchange rates and protection. For instance, if your card is compromised or you don’t get what you paid for, you are protected. And now, thanks to contactless credit cards and mobile wallet technologies, you can make payments without touching a store’s card reader .

John E. DiScala, aka Johnny Jet, has traveled more than 100,000 miles a year since starting his free newsletter in 1995 and has visited close to 100 countries. He was named by Forbes as one of the Top 10 Travel Influencers and writes about everything travel on Johnny now travels the world with his wife and their two children.