Planning a trip during the constant re-openings and closings of states in the USA was more difficult than I imagined - and future travel is going to be constantly evolving. I can't say for certain that we will ever go back to normal, but instead that we have to embrace a new normal with new strategies on staying safe during travel and demanding that businesses also take our health seriously.
Here are tips to keep in mind when planning getaways and road trips for the remainder of 2020.
Wake me up when we can travel again.
AirBnb's: My AirBnb in Chattanooga disinfected the entire house, and a lot of other listings include their cleaning measures before you book. Hosts are aware of the COVID-19 protocols, if you have doubts about what cleaning measures are taking place, don't hesitate to send your host a message.
Hotels: Say goodbye to buffet breakfasts and hello to breakfast in bed. Hotels may require face masks to be worn, temperature checks, will be constantly cleaning touchable surfaces, offer key less entry, and arrange furniture to comply with social distancing. I even saw resorts add plastic coverings to the remote controls. Some hotels/resorts may offer travel bags with masks, hand sanitizer, and hotel information. Remember to specifically find information on what your hotel and resort is doing to comply enhance your safety and health during COVID-19.
“Bored in the house and I’m in the house bored”
- You will have to do more RESEARCH. A lot of activities I found that I was excited for, ended up completely changing their services to comply with COVID-19 regulations and safety precautions. If you think you’re in for a fun ride be aware that they may have limited, stopped, or altered certain activities/services due to safety precautions. It doesn’t mean it won’t be fun - but it will be a different experience than what you read or heard about.
- Activity packs may not be offered anymore. On my trip to Chattanooga, normally you can purchase an activity package for $60 instead of paying $25 for each activity (Ruby Falls, Lookout Mountain, Rock City, Zip Lining, etc) but instead it was no longer offered. Some of the activities also weren't offered to reserve online.
- Be aware of changes in store hours, increased activity reservation requirements, and limited capacity.
- Have backup plans for activities if they are filled for the day, are closed, or have reached capacity.
- Quarantine friendly activities are still FUN! Picnics, painting, hiking, outdoor walks and exploration, and game nights can all be added to your next getaway.
EATING AT RESTAURANTS
As more states pass Phase 1 and even Phase 2 of re-opening, more people are willing to eat inside the restaurant rather than order to go. Majority of restaurants require temperature checks for staff and guests, may require face masks, and have removed seating for social distancing measures.
- Restaurants have limited capacity which means the possibility of longer wait times.
- Call ahead for wait times and see if you can make a reservation.
- See if restaurants have outdoor or patio seating to avoid closed quarters with a lot of other people who may or may not be wearing masks.
- Physical menu's may not be available - instead have your phone ready to take a photo of the QR codes. Hey, I love this new strategy. Easy online menu updates, less paper, waste and germs - can we keep it?
- Always have backup ideas and plans if something goes astray or isn’t complying with COVID-19 regulations.
- Consider ordering to go but eating the food at a nearby park, river, or outdoor area. Obviously don't melt in this dreadful summer heat - but find a perfect shady area and have a small picnic!
Ask people who live in those cities what the current status is - are restaurants fully open or is to go the only option? Are activities open to the public? What are people doing for fun during quarantine? Are the number of cases high or being controlled? Are people wearing masks in public? Are people complying with social distancing measures?
Social Media is perfect to find someone willing to talk about traveling to their city - plus they may even give you more restaurants and things to do to add to your itinerary!
All of these questions can help you gauge if the city you want to visit should stay on your list, or um, get bumped to next year. Let's be honest, some states are enforcing more safety protocols than others - so if you're dying to travel again, consider visiting places that are off the beaten path and offer more quarantine-socially-distant activities while filling your relaxation. THINK quarantine friendly for your next trip!