If we’re going to get a dollar every time somebody says “stay at home” and “don’t travel”, we’re probably going to earn enough to buy a plane ticket. We get it – it’s totally unsafe to travel during the pandemic. For sure, you’ve finally accepted that 2020 isn’t going to be the best time to fulfill your dream travel goals.
But let’s be honest: staying at home 24/7 and seeing the same sights and people from dusk to dawn, are enough to take someone’s sanity. You crave a change of scenery. You want to see things besides your messy bookshelf and unorganized cupboards. You desire to be out in the open and breathe some fresh air. Your feet yearn to walk long distances. Your hands yearn to play with the salty, sandy sea waters.
The good news is some parts of the country are starting to slowly reopen. Unlike months ago, it’s now possible to get a mini getaway to places that are cleared for safe travel and are under the radar. You just need to be extra cautious. Like, really cautious. Travel buffs call it “safe-cation.”
How to plan an unforgettable safe-cation? Here are 11 tips to keep in mind.
1. Make sure you’re not sick
Before making any plans to travel, make sure you’re not putting your health and the health of others at risk. Obviously, you should never travel if you’re sick and if you’re with someone who is sick.
The last thing you want is to be a silent carrier of the virus. If possible, get yourself and your companion tested for coronavirus. Acquire the requirements, like health certificates and other proofs that you’re coronavirus-free.
2. Travel close to home
Since we’re still testing the waters, travel experts recommend shorter trips to places that are under the radar. Look for places within driving distance. Next to staying safe and healthy, traveling close to home allows you to discover amazing local destinations that we haven’t gone to before.
3. Research your destination wisely
How safe is the destination you’re planning to visit? Is the place considered a COVID-19 hot spot? Are they implementing aggressive swab testing, contact tracing, quarantine protocols, and other safety measures? Do they have adequate health facilities? No matter how beautiful a place is, it’s not worth the risk if it’s deemed unsafe as far as COVID-19 transmission is concerned.
4. Check local, state, and regional advisories
Some places still have a couple of restrictions on activities while others haven’t opened yet. Before booking your trip, check travel guidelines. Keep in mind that new restrictions can go into effect quickly should the number of positive cases spike, so make sure you’re checking their updates from time to time.
5. Have a fun road trip
If possible, avoid modes of public transportation, like buses and trains. Instead, bring your own car and see the world at your own pace. Next to water and food, germ-fighting products should also be a part of your essential items. Pack a “virus kit” which consists of sanitizing products like hand sanitizers with 60% alcohol, soaps, and disinfecting wipes, as well as protective equipment like masks, face shields, and gloves.
6. Plan your routes
Preparation is key. Research your target destination, as well as your routes and other places you’ll be passing through. Chances are that you might run into temporary closures and other travel advisories. You may also run into a few changes, like suspension of in-person toll payment, adjusted operating hours of some establishments, and other inconvenient situations.
7. Ground your choices on health concerns
Don’t be easily attracted by cheap rates and other freebies. Instead, ask what the property did (and are continuously doing) to ensure their guest’s safety and sanitation amid the pandemic. That applies to choose the best hotel accommodation, airline, tourist attraction, and other travel companies.
Patronize brands who have stepped up their game when it comes to cleanliness policies, contactless check-ins, temperature checks, face mask requirements, increased cleaning and disinfecting measures, physical distancing protocols, and enhanced COVID-19 awareness training for employees.
8. Book in advance
While booking the last minute gives you flexibility and peace of mind, travel experts suggest booking your trips ahead. Give at least 60 days out if you’re sure when and where you’re heading to. Since the travel industry, including hotel accommodation providers, attractions, and airlines, are limiting the number of occupants to avoid overcrowding, booking earlier gives you a better chance of getting a slot. However, opt for the ones with flexible cancellation policies.
9. Time your trip wisely to avoid crowds
Before, we used to avoid crowds merely because we don’t like the hassle of long queues, congested roads, and other inconveniences. Now, we want to avoid crowded places because our lives depend on it. Go off-peak. Avoid traveling on a holiday. Expect weekends to be busy too. Instead, plan a mid-week staycation. You should also find out how crowded your target destination is.
10. Avoid dine-ins
Even if some restaurants have already resumed their dine-in operations, it’s better to be safe than sorry. When buying food outside, opt for a drive-thru, takeout, and delivery services, then eat them in your hotel room or car. If possible, use your own utensils. The less contact you make with people, the better.
If dine-ins can’t be avoided, opt for outdoor seating which promotes better airflow and decreased exposure to droplets from other people. Also check if the restaurant has set up safety measures, like physical distance and barriers between diners, employees wearing masks, and physical distancing markers.
11. Stay safe and clean
You know the drill: wear a mask when you’re in public, maintain physical distancing of 3 meters or more, and wash your hands frequently. In situations where you can’t wash your hands, make sure your hand sanitizers are always ready. Lastly, make sure to take a bath and decontaminate your stuff the moment you arrive at your hotel or home to prevent the spread.