It seems surreal, doesn’t it? Just a year ago, we were planning getaways near and far without a care in the world. Then the pandemic hit and dashed our vacation plans quicker than a Texan can say, “That dog won’t hunt.”
Now, as we welcome 2021 with a better understanding of the virus and how we can travel with an eye toward safety and risk mitigation, we’re daring to dream about exploration and adventure again. Of course, vacation planning is different than it used to be, but with a little forethought, you can go on a fun vacation and create new lifetime memories.
We’ve put together a few ideas for you to consider when planning your vacation in 2021. Although these tips should inspire you to embrace the vacation lifestyle once again, ultimately, resuming travel will come down to the level of risk that makes you feel comfortable.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Let’s start with how you travel to and from your vacation destination. Choices include a personal vehicle (road trip, anyone?), flying, or via train.
Driving your vehicle is relatively economical with low gas prices, and from a nostalgic perspective, road trips are the stuff memories are made from. Remember, you’ll be stopping for bathroom breaks and to eat along the way. And depending on the distance, you may need to spend a night or two in a hotel. Be prepared to use your masks, hand sanitizers, and disinfectant products.
The airlines are doing most everything possible to put safety and cleanliness at the forefront of your travel experience. Most, if not all, use HEPA air filters that capture around 99.9% of airborne viruses and bacteria.
As a COVID-19 scaredy-cat, I use an N95 mask when flying, limit food and beverage intake, and wipe down my armrests and tray tables with virus-killing disinfectant wipes. Socially distance in the terminals as directed and follow their mask-wearing regulations.
The idea of taking the train is both romantic and nostalgic, don’t you think? When speed getting to and from your destination isn’t your goal, consider the train instead of flying. And compared to driving, the train enables you to watch beautiful stretches or our country to pass by as you relax. Follow the train operators’ COVID-19 guidelines. Wear a mask and try to socially distance as much as possible, especially when boarding and deboarding.
Where to Stay
The good news is that you have a few options to choose from.
From condos and apartments to beach cottages and mountain cabins, vacation rentals are great whether you have the whole family with you, are on a girls’ getaway, spending time as a couple, or traveling on your own.
The beauty of vacation rentals is that they’re self-contained and limit interactions with others. You can relax, cook meals together, and hang out in a homelike environment. This reduces the likelihood that you’ll go out to do everything, which ultimately minimizes risk.
Look for places that have a sanitization process, but just to be extra safe, thoroughly wipe down surfaces with a virus-killing disinfectant the first thing when you arrive.
Don’t rule out hotel rooms. Major hotel brands have implemented new safety and cleaning precautions, and residence-style hotel rooms offer some of the conveniences and safety of a condo or apartment rental.
RV’ing is a great way to see the country in your personal mobile motel, explore nature, and enjoy the great outdoors. Don’t worry if you don’t own one. It’s easy to rent an RV for the trip, and DIY sanitization is quick and easy.
Compared to driving a car or SUV, you may have to stop less often for food or bathroom breaks, but RV travel usually means staying at RV parks overnight and getting gas and supplies at other public places, which may put you and those with you in the RV in close contact with others.
Glamping is where “stunning nature meets modern luxury,” according to Glamping.com. We call it luxury camping, and naturally, due to the pandemic, glamping is enjoying an uptick in America.
Glamping “rooms” or structures include pods, bell tents, tent cabins, tree houses, safari tents, tipis, vintage caravans and trailers, and yurts. Many, if not most glamping retreats have implemented new cleaning procedures and contactless guest check-ins. But as with a hotel room or a vacation rental, you’ll want to do a DIY sanitization when you first enter your glamped out vacation abode.
Four Safe Travel Tips for 2021
If there’s one tip to follow, it’s don’t let your guard down. It’s easy to slip into “vacation mode” without considering the COVID-19 safety issues. We’ll be able to be less guarded someday, hopefully soon, but now is not the time.
Avoid COVID-19 hotspots and traveling to areas with infection spikes. This could mean making last minutes changes to your travel plans unless you choose locations less likely to become epicenters.
Be prepared. Bring along virus-killing disinfectant sprays and wipes, plenty of single-use or washable masks, N95 masks if you think you may end up in a crowded area, generous amounts of hand sanitizer, and UV wands to disinfect smaller areas and phones. Sure, we know this sounds overboard, but as they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Check if your destination has requirements or restrictions for travelers, especially if you’re coming from out of state. Restrictions can change quickly. Even if there were no restrictions when you made your plans, there might be when you’re ready to leave.