If you’re tired of staying at home and want to get away, you’re not alone. A full 45% of respondents in a recent travel-related survey said they were planning to take a domestic leisure trip within the next 6 months. Maybe you planned a trip you had to cancel due to COVID-19 restrictions. Or maybe you’re just due for a vacation, really want to take the kids to see their grandparents or have had enough of Zoom happy hours. While staying at home is always the best way to protect yourself and others from the spread of the coronavirus, if you’re thinking about traveling in the coming months, there are a few things you’ll want to consider first.
How far will you go?
With 70% of people comfortable traveling by car and far fewer comfortable traveling by air,* it seems like short jaunts are more likely than longer trips. Because of restrictions on indoor activities, many people are taking to the outdoors — hiking, camping and boating, among other things. Think creatively about where you can go close by that will give you a break from your regular routine and scenery.
How is your destination doing?
There are very few places in the world right today where the risk of COVID-19 is low. Therefore, you may not be able to travel anywhere except within the continental United States. Even within the states, there are places where the risk is higher than others. Consider exploring your own state — where haven’t you been? What haven’t you seen that you’d like to?
What are the rules in the states you’ll be traveling to and from?
Since each state has different COVID-19 guidelines, you’ll need to be aware of where you can go, how long you might need to quarantine and other restrictions before you leave home. Many states require you to take a test, verify that you’ve tested negative or quarantine for 2 weeks if traveling from a state where infections are high. Some, like Alaska, are very strict, requiring nonresidents to fill out a travel declaration form listing where they’ve visited and upload negative COVID-19 test results, with fines of up to $25,000 if you don’t comply. Others, like Pennsylvania, simply request that you quarantine when you return to the state.
How will you travel?
According to a recent Gallup survey, 52% of travelers are uncomfortable flying on an airplane. If you’re not one of those or are willing to tough it out for a few hours, check to see what precautions your airline is taking, if they’ll guarantee you a free middle seat so you won’t have anyone directly next to you and what other safety measures they have in place. If you’re not willing to fly, ask yourself if you’re comfortable:
- Driving a car. Depending on your destination and how long you can drive or ride in a car, you may not need to stop very often or at all.
- Driving an RV. This way, you don’t even have to stop for food or a bathroom — you can “carry” them with you.
- Taking a train or bus. Ask what measures they have to protect you on your trip.
Where will you stay at night?
If your trip is more than a day’s worth of driving, you’ll need a place to sleep. Are you comfortable staying in a hotel? If so, what COVID-19 safety procedures do they have in place? Can you book and check in online or through a mobile app? Are staff required to wear a mask and do they have plexiglass partitions and physical distancing signs in the lobby?
If you aren’t comfortable in a hotel, can you take advantage of campgrounds that might help you keep your distance from others? Keep in mind, even campgrounds have restrictions and risks if you use bathrooms, beaches or other public areas.
How is your health and that of the people you’ll be visiting?
If you or someone you’ll be visiting is at risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19, it may be better to visit virtually. If not, you’ll still need to be sure that you’re comfortable with the risks of travel.