Updated: Feb 3
Since March 1, 2020, I have taken 3 trips and canceled 10 trips. I did two beach trips to the Gulf Coast, one for a week, one for a long weekend and a Monday to Friday road trip to the Florida Keys. The last time I flew as in February of 2020. For someone who flew over 100,000 miles in 2019, this is a huge change for me. As the COVID vaccine is beginning to roll out in the United States, my feet are getting really itchy. Added to my travel wanderlust is the fact that our son will be in California for 6 weeks in January/February. He is stationed in Japan and we have not seen him in 15 months. After his time in California, he is headed back to Japan for another tour of duty. Should I go to visit him? Will it be safe to travel in the first half of 2021? Are there steps that I can take to make sure we are traveling safely and respectfully?
Not everyone is ready for travel. I completely understand that. If this year has taught me anything, it is that people respond to situations differently and you have to respect people where they are. My intent with this article is to give you some thought starters as you consider travel, to share our experiences so that you can make a more informed decision when you decide you are ready to travel. Do you need some travel gear, check out my Amazon store.
Be prepared, if you are going someplace you visited previously, chances are great it will not be the same as it was before. In many places restaurants are either open for take out only or have limited hours and limited menus. Bars and pubs are closed or they require you to make a reservation for a limited period of time and purchase food. Attractions and museums are closed or have limited hours. Reservations are usually required. Some National and State Parks are requiring reservations for entrance, as well.
From our earlier travel experiences this year, I am learned that planning is the key to safely and respectfully traveling. Start with selecting a location, understand what the COVID situation is in the place you are selecting and what restrictions are in place both for visitors entering the area as well as businesses in the area. Understand the quarantine rules if any in your selected location. If you are planning a one week visit, you may not want to travel to a location that requires a 5 day quarantine. If you are a foodie, you may not want to visit a place where restaurants are doing take-out only. Interested in visiting National Parks in the US, check out these blog posts on the Smokey Mountains National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Glacier National Park.
My suggestion is to select a place where there are lots of outdoor activities. Whether it is a beach trip or a skiing trip, the more things you can do outside, the safer you will be and more options you will have for things to do. Consider, walking tours, private tours, and boat tours as a way to explore an area. Check out my Trip Advisor Page for social distancing, ideas. If you are a hiker or a golfer, choose an area that offers lots of options for those types of activities. Ski areas are working hard to bring their guest a safe environment to enjoy a winter vacation. They are limiting the number of people on the mountain. Plans for snowmobiling, ice skating, or a private sleigh ride could fill in the downtime when you are not able to ski. Check out my post on snowmobiling.
Select your accommodations carefully. The safest option is a rental that allows for only you and your travel companions to enter and exit, no lobbies, shared elevations, or indoor communal spaces. No one loves a large beach or ski resort more than I do. In the first part of 2021, it is safest to avoid those types of situations. National hotel chains, like Marriott and Hilton have put into place very strict cleaning procedures. For an overnight stay, I would be comfortable staying there. For a longer stay, a safer option would be some type of rental like an Airbnb or VRBO. Consider camping or a RV. CaptK and I looked into renting an RV for our Key West Trip. Because we wanted to explore multiple places between Key Largo and Key West, we felt an Airbnb was a better option. For more information on traveling in Florida, check out my posts on the Gulf Coast, Palm Beach and The Florida Keys.
Have a plan for your meals. One of the benefits of a house or condo rental is the kitchen. Limiting the number of meals that you have to eat in restaurants is the safest and healthiest way to travel. CaptK has a pretty strict outdoor dining only rule. Even in winter destinations, restaurants have gotten very creative with their outdoor dining options including heated covered patios and large tents. Take out and delivery are always an option. We have started traveling with a cooler. If we are hiking or going to a state or national park, I will pack us a picnic. My all time favorite cooler is the Yeti backpack cooler, it is tall enough to stand wine bottles up in it.
Planning is really the key to making travel safe and enjoyable. Research potential destinations. Remote areas have less risk than crowded. Know what local guidelines and restrictions are in places. Select accommodations that limit your exposure to others outside your travel group and allows for cooking. Research outdoor activities and restaurants with outdoor dining, I like to use Pinterest for my research. It is an easy way to find and save information about destinations. Pack your own masks, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. Be respectful and kind, people in the hospitality business are working hard to bring you a safe and enjoyable experience under very difficult times. Remember travel truly is a privilege. I you have any thoughts or suggestions for safely traveling in the first part of 2021 please leave them in the comments section. Ready to book your trip, search your destination on Booking.com.