Not surprisingly, Americans sharply reduced the overall number of trips they took in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. While a certain level of travel has been necessary throughout the pandemic, many travel vendors are seeing increased reservations going into the spring and summer and are expecting business to continue to rise in the second half of 2021 as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely administered.
Are you among those considering or planning a trip in the coming months? If so, here are six key tips for making it a safer and cleaner experience.
Research your destination ahead of time. Since travel restrictions can be put in place by jurisdictional leaders, different destinations can have different policies in terms of quarantine requirements, the wearing of masks in public, maximum allowable gathering sizes and the categories of businesses that may remain open to the public. On top of that, your travel destination may quickly change its restrictions in response to prevailing fluctuations in COVID-19 levels. CNN’s compilation of pandemic-related restrictions by state may help keep you informed.
Book reservations with cleanliness and flexibility in mind. As you make your transportation and lodging selections, prioritize companies that offer flexibility and prioritize cleanliness. Many car rental and hotel companies have adjusted policies to enhance their cleaning procedures and allow customers to change their plans if required due to the pandemic.
Pack cleaning/sanitizing products in your luggage. Keep disinfecting wipes close at hand to help clean surrounding surfaces during your journey. And, while there is typically hand sanitizer in most public places now, it’s a good idea to pack travel size sanitizer for immediate needs. If you’re traveling with others, encourage them to also use hand sanitizer along the way. Also remember to pack extra masks to replace those that may get dirty or be misplaced.
Wipe down hard surfaces along the way. When possible, disinfect hard surfaces throughout your trip to limit the spread of germs. Some travel companies have made this easier. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, for example, has teamed up with Clorox to add a one-count disinfecting wipe to every vehicle rented throughout the U.S. and Canada. The program is partly in response to a survey showing 80% of Enterprise customers feel more comfortable renting when they’re able to use the disinfecting cloths on their vehicles themselves. Clorox’s in-house scientist Mary Gagliardi recommends disinfecting all the hard, nonporous surfaces in any car — cup holders, the steering wheel, door handles, seat buckles, radio knobs, etc. on a regular basis.
Select low-touch options. Most attractions, restaurants as well as some car rental companies and hotels allow you to make reservations or check in, in advance online so you can avoid lines or crowds. This also allows the businesses to keep a lower number of people to a certain window of time, avoiding crowded areas.
Choose socially distant activities. Seek out dining, lodging and other activities that allow for social distancing. The CDC also recommends choosing outdoor activities, when possible, avoiding common areas and ensuring staff wear masks. According to Cleveland Clinic experts, when you apply everyday COVID-19 precautions to your travels, the risks can be minimized significantly.
“As we eventually return to more activities outside our homes, it will remain vital even after vaccination for us all to wear masks that properly fit, maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others, avoid crowded areas and get tested if you have symptoms,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. In fact, just recently, the CDC updated its guidelines recommending that fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. at low risk to themselves.
Travel can be safer and more comfortable for you and your family if you pack wisely, plan ahead and take time to scout out the most viable accommodations.