Concerns over COVID-19 are one reason “staycations” are increasingly popular right now. The idea of a staycation -- exploring adventures or leisure activities within an easy driving distance – is appealing because you can return to the safety of your home every evening. Staycations are also budget-friendly, and a great way for families to plan several excursions so each family member gets to choose a destination or activity at some point. But if the thought of spending another week at home leaves you feeling depleted instead of rejuvenated, it’s time to think about a “safecation” instead.
If an exciting international vacation isn’t in the cards this year, and a staycation or two isn’t enough to lift you out of the coronavirus doldrums, a safecation – or a safe vacation -- is the perfect middle ground. A safecation can include air travel, hotels, and dining out just like any other vacation. It can be adventurous or relaxing, luxurious or low-budget. Whatever your vacation needs are, the key is planning a getaway that puts safety and staying well as the top priority. Keep an open mind, take some additional precautions, and with the help of these tips you can still have the perfect vacation this year.
Choose your destination wisely. Many places, especially throughout Europe and Asia, are closed for tourism right now. Closer to home, Hawaii, Alaska and other states have mandatory 14 day quarantines that may be in place through the summer. Chose a destination that is safe and has implemented special precautions, is welcoming to tourists, and has accessible healthcare in case of emergencies. Before you make any plans, review the travel guidelines and up-to-date COVID-19 information on the CDC website.
Compare airlines. While most US airlines have committed to keeping the center seat empty in order to reduce crowding and the spread of disease, it’s important to confirm that before booking. You’ll also want to review cancellation policies, as they change frequently and a refund for flights you may need to cancel isn’t necessarily guaranteed. Also ensure that the airline staff will enforce mask wearing for all passengers throughout the flight. Just one passenger that refuses to wear a mask could put the entire plane at risk.
Be extra picky about hotels and other accommodations. Most national hotels have strict cleaning, sanitization and social distancing policies posted on their website. For smaller hotels or home rentals, ask about their specific cleaning processes and ensure they are complying with the enhanced guidelines developed by the American Hotel and Lodging Association in accordance with CDC standards. Be extra cautious with hotels that are offering bargain rates: lower rates can mean more bookings – and crowded lobbies, restaurants, hallways, and elevators that can make social distancing difficult. Finally, if having a pool or access to a gym is important to you, confirm that they will be open to guests, and that social distancing, frequent cleaning and other precautions will be in place.
Assume responsibility for cleanliness. While airlines, hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions are being cleaned and sanitized frequently, this is not the time to let up your guard. Keep a supply of disinfecting wipes with you at all times, and give the surfaces around you – doorknobs, remote controls, tray tables, etc. -- an additional wipe down just to be extra safe. The peace of mind alone will be worth the minimal effort it takes.
Maintain strict personal hygiene. By now we all know that the best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus is through frequent handwashing. This is especially true when traveling. Wash your hands at every opportunity, and without exception after touching any common surfaces. Use sanitizing spray or gel when you don’t have access to soap and water. Even if you’re in an area with a low rate of coronavirus infections, you should still wear a mask anytime you are out in public. It’s easy and painless, and shows courtesy and concern for others. Plus, wearing a mask will help remind you not to touch your face.
If in doubt, stay home. If you or a member of your traveling party don’t feel well, don’t travel. Even if you think it’s just a cold, any minor illness can make you more susceptible to COVID-19 and other serious illnesses. Stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat nutritious meals, and try to reschedule your vacation when you’re feeling healthy again.
Keep calm and have fun. Reminders that we’re experiencing a life changing pandemic are everywhere, and can be especially unsettling when you’re in an unfamiliar place. But don’t let that ruin your vacation. Remind yourself that you’ve planned ahead and taken precautions to stay safe and healthy. Then take a deep breath, relax, and have fun exploring new areas or spending time with family and friends. After all, if you don’t enjoy your time away, it’s really not a vacation!