Travel Safety During COVID-19

When we first started staying home in March, we all thought it would be temporary.  As April seemed unlikely to yield any vast changes, we looked forward to May.  After May’s outlook turned even more bleak, we began to wonder when can we wander again?  Friends, family, and clients reached out asking what they could do or look forward to as we continued cancelling vacation plans and accepting the reality of the Covid-19 Pandemic. 

Travel Safety During COVID-19

Travel Advisories

The Center for Disease Control

The CDC advises that staying home is the best way to reduce your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.  You could get it before or during your travels and spread it to others long after you’ve returned.  Making the decision to travel should be made with several things taken into consideration including infection rates at your destination, whether you or family members are in high risk categories, and whether or not your destination has requirements or restrictions for travelers. 

Visit travel.state.gov for details on specific international travel advisories.

Travel Knowledge (STEP) Smart Traveller Enrollment Program

If you happen to be leaving the country, enroll in STEP to receive important safety information regarding your travel plans and to be accessible to the US Embassy should an emergency arise.

Scams

Be aware of the multitude of scams that affect travelers in different areas.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can give you an overview of scams to look out for and specific state warnings.  Scammers use many different points of contact but here are some signs the FTC recommends to look out for.

  1. Free vacation BUT pay these fees first.
  2. Prize company needs your credit card number in order to award you.
  3. Random contact out of the blue.
  4. No specific details – resort not named and travel details are vague.
  5. Pressured to join a travel club.
  6. You receive a robocall.

Remember, you can file a complaint with the FTC if you think you’ve been a victim of a scam.

Destination

Deciding where to vacation might be the hardest or the easiest part depending on how you look at it.  Road trips are popular with many travelers right now.  From a beach vacation to a mountain respite, your options probably depend on how far you want to drive.  If you live in one of the COVID hotspots, some destinations might have restrictions for you.  Check the CDC data tracker for a visual map of COVID cases.

Travel Insurance

While travel insurance is always recommended, please keep in mind that many insurances have changed their policies and may not include specific coverages for COVID-19 related losses.  Compare policies for the best rate that provides the coverage you need. 

Before you go:

Pack a travel kit that holds all of the essentials to sanitize any areas as necessary.  While many accommodations have stepped up their cleaning routines, there’s no guarantees.  I take wipes, hand sanitizer, extra face masks, and gloves just in case.  In fairness, I’ve always done this and wiped down the remotes when we travel but now, I just wipe everything down as soon as I enter. 

Just a Reminder…

You’ll find a lot of links to various resources on this site, some of these links are affiliate links that pay me a commission at no extra cost to you. If you make a purchase through these companies, this supports the photos and tips that are provided to inspire you in your own travels.

DIY Travel Safety Kit

Masks – homemade or store bought, fabric or KN95?  There are dozens of choices, you may need to test a few to find one that feels comfortable to you.

Sanitizing Wipes   

Hand Sanitizer Spray

Nitrile Disposable Gloves

Or try the iFlySmart Travel Kit which includes hand wipes, facial wipes, lip moisturizer, earplugs, a sleep mask, a face mask, and a headrest cover for under $7. 

Is it overkill?  Maybe but in one of the hotels we recently stayed in, I found 3 areas that had not been properly cleaned including a coffee cup ring and a food stain on the tables that wiped up very easily.  In my book, those tables had not been cleaned in the first place for that to be possible. 

Accommodations

Some hotels make a point of requiring guests to wear masks in public areas and they may also have limited services and amenities available.  For larger brands with several different chains, it is possible to have a different experience depending on the location and chain.  The following chart is not an exhaustive list of every hotel option but gives you an idea of what to expect at these major hotel brands.  Many have also loosened their cancellation policies so you have more time to cancel and still get a refund, be sure to verify the cancellation details before you book.

You may also experience the following reduction in services:

  • No or limited breakfast options
  • No or limited housekeeping, possibly by request only
  • No or limited services such as valet parking and luggage assistance
  • Amenities such as pools, gyms, and public gaming/toys closed or removed
  • Limited guest count in public areas and dining facilities
  • Decorative items and pillows removed from rooms

Flying

Normal travel conditions can be stressful when flying, the current pandemic conditions could cause more anxiety and stress.

Airlines have increased their cleaning efforts and some may also have reduced amenities on board.  Many require masks while on the plane and several have been in the news for returning passengers that don’t adhere to this.

Car rentals

Reductions in locations and cars may affect service expectations.

It is recommended that you sanitize all high touch services once you enter the rental.

Dining

While you may experience some new limitations with your dining options, there are also many new ways to order and reduce contact that make eating out easier than it’s ever been. If you’re a fan of pick up and go, there are more restaurants offering online ordering from an array of apps. Here’s some that you may find depending on your location:

Conclusion

As the world continues to monitor the evolution of COVID-19 and how it affects the population, being aware of changing rules and limitations on your expected travels will help set realistic expectations and avoid extra disappointment.  There may still be many options available to you for day visits, overnight stays, and sightseeing.  It’ll just require a little more homework and due diligence on your part.

Happy Wandering, safely!

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