Before the COVID-19 pandemic, rest and relaxation were also important components of maintaining general well-being, and what better way to relax than on a summer vacation?
You probably feel, now more than ever, the need to escape to recharge from the routine. And while a summer vacation may be just what your mind is asking for, you’re wondering: is it safe to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Authorities around the world continue to recommend staying home, rather than traveling because traveling increases the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19, but if you are still willing to travel, consider these four tips when doing so.
Where should you go for your summer vacation?
Before deciding where to go for your summer vacation, ask yourself the following:
- Is the virus spreading where I live?
- Is the virus spreading where I want to go?
If you live in an area where the virus is spreading, be very cautious in the weeks leading up to your vacation, this can help reduce your chances of getting sick and inadvertently spreading COVID-19 during your trip. You might even consider postponing the holidays until the cases decrease in the area where you live.
If the virus is spreading in the area you plan to visit, choose another destination.
Once you decide on your destination, it is important to take into account the specific rules to follow during your trip.
What will you do there?
Whatever your summer vacation destination, you should make sure to avoid crowds and stay six feet away from others whenever possible.
For example, keeping your distance is much more difficult in an urban city with always crowded restaurants and sidewalks, as opposed to a city with widespread geographic sprawl, where you can easily drive from one place to another.
The easiest and safest way to ensure social distancing on your vacation is to choose a destination that offers plenty of outdoor spaces and activities, including:
- Walks in a park
- Hang out on the beach
- Fish in a lake, river, or ocean
- Navigate in the rapids of a river
But keep in mind that popular outdoor venues will likely draw even larger crowds this summer, as many people will prefer to stay in open, spacious environments to vacation safely during the pandemic.
To increase your chances of staying healthy in this long-awaited summer vacation, do your research ahead of time, this can help you avoid rush hour in crowded places that are outdoors, it will also help you find other places and activities that are much less crowded. You could even have alternative plans if you research in advance of your trip. So you can go to the next beach on your list, in case your first option is crowded with people.
It is also advisable to choose a destination where it is easy to get around by car, rather than having to rely on public transportation, as well as ordering take-out, rather than dining in restaurants.
How will you get to your destination?
When compared to sitting near other people on an airplane, driving definitely seems to be safer when traveling, but, a road trip is not completely safe. It is important that you take extra precautions when stopping at gas stations and rest stops.
How to make your road trip safe:
- Have the essentials close at hand. Take antibacterial hand gel and alcohol-based disinfectant wipes with you, and don’t forget your cloth mask.
- Stay two meters away from others. During rest stops, wear your mask, just like when you go to a convenience store. In the latter, avoid the lines and keep your distance.
- Sanitize your hands. Consider having an antibacterial hand gel bottle for each traveler in your group. Carry it in your pocket when you are not in your car. Sanitize your hands before and after using the bathroom, and when leaving the convenience store, and after using the gas pump.
- Sanitize the fuel pump. Before refueling, use sanitizing wipes to clean the gas pump station, disinfecting the keyboard and the gas pump handle. If you don’t have wipes, use a paper towel, napkin, or tissue to touch the gas pump.
- Skip convenience stores entirely. To limit the number of stops while traveling, bring your own snacks. Use a cooler to carry sandwiches and drinks. If you need to stop for a meal, consider going to a self-service restaurant to avoid going inside.
In some cases, reaching your final destination by car will not be possible, so you will probably have to be at an airport and get on a plane. Keep in mind that air travel puts you in close contact with many other people, as well as a variety of surfaces that are frequently touched. Plus, you’ll give up social distancing for an extended period while on the plane.
How to make your stay on the plane as safe as possible:
- Make smart decisions when booking. The risk decreases with the decisions you make when planning your reservations. Avoid flights with layovers and connections, choose a destination with a relatively short flight, and opt for a window seat.
- Wear a cloth mask. In fact, some airlines may ask you to wear a mask while at the airport, as well as on the plane.
- Spread out at the air terminal. While you wait to board the plane, keep a distance of two meters from others, as long as possible.
- Sanitize your hands. Bring your own alcohol-based hand sanitizer and use it after touching door handles, counter touch screens, containers when passing airport security, escalator rails, and other frequently touched surfaces and items. As always, wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom.
Where will you stay during your summer vacation?
The two typical options for lodging during summer vacations are hotels and Airbnb houses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may wonder which one is safer. There are actually pros and cons to each one.
The advantages of staying in a hotel during COVID-19: Most hotels tend to have strict cleaning standards and protocols. And many have further improved their preventive measures during the pandemic. This means that you probably don’t need to worry about potentially contaminated surfaces in your room.
The disadvantages of staying in a hotel during COVID-19: In hotels, there are usually common spaces, with many people. During your stay, be sure to keep your distance from other people in hallways, elevators, and common spaces.
The advantages of staying in an Airbnb: Renting an Airbnb can be a good way to limit the number of people you come in contact with during your trip. In addition, it gives you the ability to cook your own meals, thus avoiding a large dependence on restaurants during the holidays.
Disadvantages of staying in an Airbnb: Staying in an Airbnb does not necessarily guarantee the standard of cleanliness that you might expect from a reputable hotel.
Before booking, ask about measures to ensure complete cleanliness during guests’ stay, and, when you arrive at your rental home, it is advisable to use disinfectant wipes to clean commonly touched surfaces, where germs tend to hide.
The COVID-19 pandemic makes planning a safe summer vacation a challenge. There are many options to make, and some options are safer than others. However, it is about your vacation. It will be up to you to weigh the risks and rewards of the trip; always making smart and safe decisions as much as possible during the trip.