With all the time your family has probably spent at home over the past few months, a change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered. This year, with Covid-19 becoming a part of our daily lives, the number one consideration when planning your family vacation will probably be how to mitigate risk and still enjoy your getaway.
It’s daunting to think about traveling with children during a pandemic, but if you’ve checked your family’s risk levels and you’re ready to get away, you can still enjoy a vacation by making informed choices, taking precautions, and staying flexible.
Choosing your destination
The trend so far this year, which is in line with CDC recommendations, is to stay a bit closer to home, travel by car, and to spend a lot of time outdoors.
Some things to look for when choosing your destination are:
Falling Covid-19 numbers and a low positivity test rating
Economic reopening status of the state, which will determine whether restaurants, bars, and retail stores are able to open.
Quarantine restrictions and/or Covid-19 testing requirements
Proximity to outdoor recreation
Research regulations and restrictions. Check on the reopening status and current Covid-19 restrictions at your destination, which determine what activities are permitted and what businesses can open. Within the U.S., restrictions vary between states, counties and cities. Some states, like Hawaii, mandate a 2-week quarantine for all out-of-state travelers, while others have quarantine orders for travelers coming from specific states.
Embrace the great outdoors. Outdoor activities like camping, hiking, kayaking, or mountain-biking let you maintain physical distancing while experiencing the wilderness.
Most national and state parks are at least partially open, but reservations are filling up fast. The National Park Service (NPS) website offers helpful health and safety advice and links to individual parks. Private campsites are also an option. If camping isn’t for you, consider renting a home or booking a hotel that is close to a quiet lake, beach, or hiking trails.
Be prepared. Wherever you decide to go, make sure you have plenty of hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes, lots of snacks, and a few masks for each family member. The majority of states now have public mask mandates, many of which include children over two years old.
Finding the right place to stay
For accommodations, consider prioritizing access to outdoor space and being able to maintain physical distancing. Don’t hesitate to call ahead to ask about kid-friendly rooms and on-site amenities, and what extra precautions they’re taking for Covid-19.
Hotels & Motels
The lodging industry has made significant changes to address Covid-19 concerns. The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) introduced their Enhanced Industry-Wide Hotel Cleaning Guidelines for lodgings to follow in response to Covid-19. For guests, they have created a 5-step Safe Stay Guest Checklist listing health and safety recommendations for travelers to follow when lodging away from home.
On the hotel website, look for features like remote check-in and online payment, increased cleaning protocols for high-touch surfaces in common areas, and at least 24 hours room vacancy between guests.
Motels usually lack amenities like a restaurant, room service, or a concierge, but they do offer a parking spot and an outside entrance. Some also include kitchenettes and picnic spaces, and their layouts generally promote guest independence and self-sufficiency. Especially on a road trip, a motel could be the right fit for your family.
Online rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO let you rent an entire home for your vacation. You can choose a rental with the amenities you want for the family, like a baby room, private pool, cooking facilities. or outdoor space. Online payment and contact-free check in and check out are common features.
Airbnb’s new Enhanced Cleaning Protocol provides detailed cleaning guidelines for hosts, which will be highlighted on the listing if they are participating in the program. VRBO has also published new cleaning guidelines for properties listed on their site, which are based on CDC and WHO guidelines.
Klen App provides a better way to compare accommodation, restaurant and retail options the app uses a 5-star rating system to display how well a business is complying with CDC recommendations and current state, local and industry regulations regarding Covid-19.
Deciding where to eat
You may want to (or need to) dine out at least a few times on your vacation. The good news is that food itself is an unlikely way to spread the novel coronavirus, and the CDC recommends dining outside, washing your hands, using hand sanitizer before eating, and wearing a mask up until you start eating and drinking.
Drive-through or takeout are considered lower-risk options, and the drive-in restaurant is finally making a comeback. You might not get a server in roller skates, but it’s still a fun option for socially-distanced dining, especially on a road trip with the kids.
When you’re choosing where to have your next meal, look for the following:
Signage explaining what measures the restaurant and policies for guests, like mask-wearing, hand-washing, and maintaining physical distance.
Minimum of 6 feet between tables
Servers wearing masks
Extensive cleaning of tables and service areas
Disposable menus and/or contactless ordering and payment options
Check the restaurant’s website for a list of measures they’re taking to combat Covid-19 and consider calling ahead to ask about seating options, mask requirements, and reservations.