Despite coronavirus being still with us, things are starting to look up, and many people are beginning to travel once again. International travel is still restricted in many areas, but domestic travel in the U.S. has seen a sharp increase as many destinations open with precautions in place.
The big question on everyone’s mind is: How can we stay safe while traveling during the pandemic? If you are traveling for leisure, be aware of closures ahead of time so you can plan accordingly. Most international travel is restricted to only essential travel. However, if you are able to travel internationally to see a loved one, or are visiting a home country, there are still precautions to take.
The United States is the world epicenter for the virus, and the country remains closed to most international tourism. While this is largely a strong recommendation and not a requirement, there is a ban on tourist visitors from all of Canada, Mexico, and much of Europe and Asia for the time being.
Mexico has announced limited opening to tourists. The state of Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, a major source of tourism for that area, has reopened. Some Caribbean islands are open to U.S. residents, but as this can change quickly, be sure to double check with the appropriate tourism board.
For such a large country, the Canadians have had it pretty good with respect to keeping the spread of the virus down. They closed their borders early on, and expect to keep them closed to non-essential travel, with no specific date for reopening. As with many other nations for the time being, Canada will require all visitors to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
Members of the EU are being understandably cautious, and are slowly starting to open their borders, but only to other European travelers for now.
Is It Safe to Fly Right Now?
You may have heard that the world of air travel will never be the same again, and it’s true. You may indeed be wondering; it is truly safe to fly right now? The short answer is…YES! But with precautions. All airlines are doing a very good job of keeping strict rules in place regarding face coverings (although they differ among airlines), and cabins are completely sanitized in between flights.
Know Before You Go
Before heading to the airport, consult with the current guidelines provided by your departing airport and airline, and be prepared to follow them! Most airport and airlines will require that you wear a face mask at all times. If you don’t wear one, you will likely be denied boarding. In addition, many airlines have suspended any sort of refreshment service, as well as removing all literature from seat pockets. This is to limit as many touch points as possible to minimize the spread of the virus. So, if you need these normal services, be sure to bring your own snacks and water on board, as well as your own reading material and entertainment.
Make Some Room
With some airlines starting to lift restrictions on spacing and flight capacity, it may be in your best interest to look into how full your flight will be, and how comfortable you are with social distancing. Try to opt for airlines that are limiting seat capacity, such as blocking middle seats. You may also want to check into what kind of aircraft your flight is using – the bigger the better, so you can spread out.
Expect Different Flight Schedules
With most airlines completely redoing their schedules and making significant cuts, choose your flight carefully. Try to avoid the peak flying times of mid-morning to mid-afternoon, and expect last-minute changes and delays as airlines continue to scramble with changing demand. As the industry continues to react to daily changes, don’t be surprised if they change, rebook, or cancel your flight. If possible, sign up for instant alerts the minute you book your flight, so you are continually updated.
Consider Taking a Road Trip
This is the most popular form of vacationing at the moment. Camping or traveling in an RV offers the best of several worlds, least of which is that you have your own traveling accommodation – no looking for a hotel or other place to lay your head every night.
Studies have shown that camping is by far the safest way to travel during coronavirus. Here are some wonderful reasons to consider camping or RV-ing.
· Unplug devices and plug-in with your family.
When you are done exploring nature for the day, hunker down and unplug, gather the family around and play games, or hang outside around a fire and tell stories.
· Camping can be a less expensive alternative to flights, hotels, rental cars, etc.
You literally have all three of these in one! Not only can you take an RV or tent all around the country, saving you on a flight and a rental car, but this is also where you lay your head at night.
· Explore new places not accessible any other way.
Camping or renting an RV allows you to really explore the backcountry, going to remote locations and not having to worry about the long trek back into town to your hotel.
· With an RV, you have all the comforts of home while on the road.
No unpacking and repacking your suitcases! You have a traveling home and can social distance with ease.
· Nature boosts happiness and alleviates fear and anxiety.
Being out in the open spaces soothes the soul and breathes life into your sense of adventure.
· You can still enjoy the fresh air outdoors during this time of social distancing.
Being out in nature is easy for social distancing; however, it is still a good idea to check national parks and other popular sites ahead of time to find out what trails and other common spaces are open.
· Keep flattening the curve and be with only your family.
Enjoy your family in a constantly changing environment (keeping things interesting) while also doing your part to flatten the curve and keep everyone else safe.
The Bottom Line
Above all, be responsible. Always wear a mask in public places, practice social distancing and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer as often as you can. Consider your fellow travelers and remember that you may have the virus and be asymptomatic. Most importantly – if you feel you have been potentially exposed, quarantine yourself for 2 weeks. Keeping these things in mind will ensure you have a stress-free trip, knowing that you are protecting yourself and others.