Traveling During the Pandemic: 5 Things you Should Know
Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Uncharted territory and the unknowns!
There is no doubt that traveling during a pandemic is scary and uncertain. While traveling in August I definitely had brief moments of doubt and anxiety come over me, worrying if I had made the wrong decision, scared that either of us would possibly get sick. I had to remind myself that we took every precaution necessary and did everything and MORE to be safe. We wore N95 masks (with surgical masks on top) in the airport, on the plane, and to every public place we went to. On the plane we religiously used hand sanitizer and wiped down every inch with antibacterial wipes before we even sat down. Even though it was late and we were exhausted after a long day of travel, we also wiped down every surface of the hotel room before we settled in. Every hike we went on I had my mask in hand, in case I felt there were too many people close on narrow parts of trails. You can never be too careful, make sure to travel prepared! To avoid travel anxiety, I'll share with you the 5 things you should know before traveling during a pandemic!
1. Flights are Cheap and Flexible
Most airline businesses are suffering at a time like this, having to lower prices and make adjustments to the number of flights available. For booking flights I choose to use SkyScanner, this site aggregates the cheapest flights across all airlines in one easy place for you to buy. With low prices and such uncertainty with what the next day holds with COVID-19, everyone must be flexible and able to evolve their plans last minute. Booking a flight during a pandemic is definitely scary and we had no idea what to expect, especially considering the week we were due to depart cases were rising and the travel ban got more strict on most West Coast states. Whether you're forced to travel during this pandemic to see family, for work reasons, or for fun (if you're daring), expect cancellations and delays. When we traveled to Reno in July, our original flight was actually canceled a few weeks in advance and we were forced to find a different flight last minute. The airline didn't give any additional information besides a very vague email apologizing for the inconvenience and to please make other arrangements. The good news is that this pandemic actually makes it easier to get refunds and airlines are actually offering vouchers if you feel it's unsafe to travel. So remember, this is uncharted territory for everyone and businesses especially, so have patience and understanding when booking traveling arrangements and make sure to confirm bookings before departure!
2. Airlines Safety Precautions
Most airlines are implementing more strict safety protocols for flights. On our trip we flew Southwest , which required all flight staff and passengers to wear masks. Beverages and snacks were limited, the staff actually had pre-made snack bags ready as we boarded the plane. The bag included a snack like pretzels, a water bottle, cookies, AND hand alcohol wipes! Southwest also made a priority to only sit 2 passengers to each row, leaving the middle seat empty.
3. Rental Cars and Airbnbs
To decrease your risk of being exposed to the virus, consider renting a car to avoid public transit! You can find great deals that are very affordable for everyone on Kayak. Keep hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes inside your rental car to have easy accessing when traveling to new places. Renting an airbnb may be a better decision for your group if you are planning a longer trip and do not want staff coming in to clean every so often. We actually stayed in a hotel but we used the Do Not Disturb sign while we left for the day so staff would not enter to clean. We used our own supplies for cleaning the room and any necessary laundry we did in the tub!
4. Limited Dining Options
As most families and couples know, deciding where to eat is always hard!! Add in a pandemic and the matter gets 100x harder! Make sure to do your research of the local area you're traveling to beforehand. Every restaurant in Lake Tahoe required you to have reservations ahead of time, some accepted walk-ins but expect wait times to be at least an hour! Most places offered outdoor seating, but most nights we opted for takeout; eating pasta on a cliff slide and watching the sunset over Lake Tahoe together. Sounds like a socially distant dinner date DREAM!
5. Do Your Research!
Before planning a trip, be sure to research the states with the highest cases. Cases are surging in metro areas and warm states, this means these locations will have more restrictions! This may include only outdoor seating or reservation only, limited entries/passes being sold (like National Parks!!), and certain excursions being canceled. Not only are national parks limiting daily tickets available but some trails are closed due to socially distant precautions. This also applies to tours or fun tropical excursions limiting the number of people allowed on the tours or increasing prices! Be sure to do your research ahead of time as the closures may change your mind on where to travel to.
Most importantly, if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, please protect others by staying home!! If your state has a mandatory quarantine when returning from a state you traveled to, please stay home until you have been tested after 14 days!
To keep up with the most up to date travel restrictions, visit the CDC travel page!