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…and in 2021 while COVID-19 is still around
If you are planning a trip in December or are considering getting away with your family at some point next year, these safe travel tips are for you!
COVID times are not the easiest. But life goes on and I still believe there is beauty in creating family memories away from home. Not to mention how emotionally healthy it is to change environments and do something different.
In the midst of a global pandemic that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, I have been able to experience safe travel with my family a few times. After experiencing different ways to do it safely, I’ve put together a list of recommendations that will help you enjoy your next getaway while ensuring your family remains healthy and safe.
Safe travel if you are going to meet with family and friends
Everyone should get tested at least 48 hours before your encounter so that by the time you meet, you can all feel safe knowing everyone tested negative for COVID. We recently traveled to Hawaii and after 8 months of not gathering with any of our friends, we reunited with two of my husband’s closest friends, their wives, and children. We felt safe because not only have we all been keeping our circles very closed since March, but we all got tested in advance to make sure we could all be together, reducing the risk of getting sick.
If you decide to fly to your destination
Check COVID policies for airlines and for your destination. Some airlines will not sell all seats, leaving room for appropriate social distance while flying. Others will require you to take the virus test 48-72 hours before the flight and will only let you fly if you show a negative result. This recent article from Forbes may be helpful to get familiar with some of the new ways airlines are ensuring maximum safety for their passengers.
When it comes to your destination, conduct similar research on safety/quarantine measures taken at a local, state, or national level. Check out official sources that will give you accurate up to date information on safe travel requirements for tourists.
To travel to Hawaii for instance, you have to take a COVID test in pre-approved locations 72 hours before your flight. If you don’t have your test results handy when you land, you will have to do the test at the airport (nasal swab). Only when your negative result comes up 20-30 min later will they welcome you and let you onto the big island. That was our recent experience a few weeks ago. We did our research and knew that the state of Hawaii has tons of restrictions and a very small number of COVID cases. That’s one of the reasons why we felt safe when we decided to spend our Thanksgiving break in paradise.
Also, check restrictions and measures of your state of residence. You may need to stay quarantined for 14 days when you return from your trip.
Back to airline planning:
- If you can purchase a preferred seat, do it! These will give you more space in between seats.
- Know that wearing your mask at all times is an absolute requirement except for when you eat or drink.
- Bring your own food. Per COVID, airlines are only serving refreshments and most of them are not offering any food. Plan ahead if you are about to jump onto a long flight – you will need to get enough water, meals, and snacks for the duration of your flight.
- Bring at least one pack of disinfecting wipes per flight, so that you may sanitize seats, windows, trays, screens, seat belts, and everything you and your children may touch during the flight. Wipes are also helpful to disinfect the bathroom every time you use it.
- Change your clothes and mask between connecting flights.
Hotel or Airbnb?
This is another decision that can make you feel anxious if you don’t know the implications of your options. At this point, I have done both. Here are a few tips for you to consider as you decide what’s best for you and your family:
If you go for an Airbnb
- Check their Coronavirus Resource Center to get the latest information on their COVID-19 response, from policy updates to resources for hosts and guests.
- Get in touch with the host and ask all the necessary questions. Normally, there is a day in between guests that allows the owner to ensure the property gets cleaned and sanitized. Then by the time you arrive, you can feel at home. Read all the reviews carefully, so that you can make sure it’s a property that rates maximum score from a cleanliness perspective.
In our experience, renting a house with a pool by the beach for 10 days was the most relaxing and safest way to spend our summer vacation. (The safest way to getaway in times like this, in my opinion). It was a 1.5-hour drive from Miami to Marco Island and once we got there, we stayed in a beautiful, comfortable house we knew we were going to enjoy as our plan was to spend most of the time there.
We didn’t go to any restaurants, so we cooked at home. This is easier for us with young children, and also budget-friendly. I took our cleaning products with us and cleaned on day #1 to feel ultra-safe. We wore our masks to enter and exit the beach, and that’s it. It was just the four of us the majority of the time. My parents and siblings arrived on the last two days of our vacation to join us as we celebrated our son’s 5th birthday. Best, most relaxing, and much-needed family vacation of 2020!
If you decide to stay in a hotel
Since the hospitality industry was deeply affected by the pandemic during the first few months, most hotels have taken safety measures very seriously to make sure they earn tourists’ trust.
Sanitation protocols are very strict, as well as the use of masks by staff and guests. Seating arrangements in restaurants and other facilities also ensure safe social distancing.
Call your hotel of choice and check out their occupancy policy. Some hotels will keep occupancy at a maximum of 50%, others at 100%. This is a factor that can influence how crowded the facilities will be by the time you arrive.
We recently spent a long weekend in a well-known beautiful hotel on Marco Island. (Can you tell we love this destination?) We were able to experience the rigorous measures that were taken to ensure we as guests felt safe throughout our stay.
The key to a great vacation in times like this is to do your research. Ask as many questions as possible and decide what only you know will be the safest way for you and your family to vacation. Once you make your decision and travel arrangements, be careful but also decide to relax and enjoy. Trust your own criteria and gut feeling. Do what you need to do to protect yourself and your family while creating fresh, new, wonderful memories away from home.
If you have any additional tips or questions, drop them in the comments!