A half-year into shelter-in-place, at first mandatory and now largely self-imposed, most of us are getting the itch to travel again. Amidst the feeling that we are finally getting the hang of our new normal, you may be curious what this new normal could look like for your next family vacation. There are many things to take into consideration when planning a vacation, but below are five specific tips for traveling with kids during the time of coronavirus. While you should keep these in mind while planning and participating in your trip, be sure to spend the rest of your time enjoying your family and your much-needed break.
1. Research destination requirements
Whether you are traveling domestically or internationally, it is especially important right now to do your due diligence when deciding where to visit next. Some states, such as Alaska, have strict travel protocols for out-of-state visitors, including a $250 COVID-19 test upon arrival and self-quarantine at the traveler’s expense until they receive their results. At the time of this writing, US citizens are still unable to travel to countries belonging to the European Union, and even though the Caribbean is open to Americans, countries like Aruba require a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before landing in the country.
For some, the additional requirements regarding testing and visitors needing to prove their healthy status will give them peace of mind. For others, the added hassle of proving negative results within a small window of time and added expense of testing may deter you from that destination altogether. And for families with babies or small children, the discomfort of a nasal swab just for a vacation may not prove worth it. When researching destination requirements, also consider if wearing a mask is required and how comfortable you will feel around others who may not wear masks. And lastly, stay up to date on the number of cases at your destination and if it’s becoming a hotspot for the virus.
2. Travel by car when possible
Air travel is by far the easiest and often most convenient way to travel, even with a family. However, when traveling with children too small to properly wear a mask for the duration of a flight (as well as while being in the airport and through security), flying may not be your preferred option right now. Traveling by car allows you to better control your surroundings and minimize interactions with strangers while getting to your destination. Babies and toddlers are notorious for touching everything and putting things in their mouths. When you drive, you decrease the likelihood of contracting germs in general — not just coronavirus.
3. Rent a home or apartment instead of a hotel
Even with decreased capacities, hotels still have staff and other guests who you may inevitably have to come into contact with. In order to ensure that your family is able to keep its distance from people outside of your bubble, renting a home or apartment is going to be your best bet. Having a kitchen will also allow you to cook your meals at home, reducing the need to go to restaurants or eat out. Masks are removed in order to eat and drink, and with that comes an increased risk of exposure. It is true that most restaurants only offer outdoor dining for this very reason — and in some places, restaurants have done a good job of keeping tables spaced apart. But that’s not true everywhere. If you prefer not to eat out, for whatever reason, the ability to cook in your rental will be very valuable to you and your family.
4. Sanitize everything
Hotel brands have made a point of demonstrating to consumers that they are doing everything they can to ensure the safety of their guests. However, one can never be too sure when it comes to their health and the health of their loved ones. The first thing you should do when arriving at your hotel room is open the windows to encourage cross air circulation. Then make a point to (re)sanitize the remotes, thermostats, light switches, door handles, bath/shower and sink faucets, alarm clocks, all surfaces, and anything else you can think of. This should take less than 10 minutes, but you will know for a fact that everything has been disinfected properly. Even though Airbnbs are supposed to be cleaned between guests, much like hotels, you can never be too safe. Sanitize everything in a rental home just like you would a hotel room.
Another tip, if you have small children, is to scan the space and wipe down anything within their eyeline that they may want to touch but that you would not have thought of. When baby-proofing our home, we got on our hands and knees so we could see from a crawling baby’s point of view what they saw. I would recommend doing this when sanitizing your space as well.
5. Go camping
Now is the perfect time to try camping. We know that being indoors with poor ventilation increases our exposure to the virus, so what better way to get away from home while staying safe than a camping trip? We still have some time before the winter weather keeps us inside again. And if the prospect of a hotel or even a home rental still makes you uneasy, the great outdoors might be just what you need to feed your wanderlust while keeping yourself and your family safe. And we’ve got tips on how to make sure your kids enjoy it as much as you.
Another reason to go camping right now is for the added benefit of fresh air, sunshine, and nature to your mental health. Our homes have become our offices and, for most, our classrooms. It is easy to feel like we have nowhere to escape to anymore. Even if you have never gone camping, it might be exactly what you need right now.