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I was fortunate this year to still be able to take a vacation. It has been more than six months since COVID began wreaking havoc on our country. I had to change my trip dates more than once. And I wasn’t 100 percent sure I was still going to be able to take my trip until the day I left. But I gathered as much COVID travel tips as I could.
I do realize being inconvenienced on travel is mild compared to what some have faced this year. So when I did get to go, I wanted to be as safe as possible. I worried about transporting COVID either to my destination or bringing it home with me. Living in a tourist town, I also know the importance tourism plays in the economy.
While traveling, I took note of how my vacation impacted others – both good or bad. Fortunately, the way I travel is also fairly COVID safe to begin with. Below are nine tips for traveling safely during a global pandemic.
1. Take the road less traveled
Consider road-tripping someplace nearby. Ideally, you should travel somewhere within the distance of one gas tank. That way you don’t have to be exposed to others inside the gas station. However, if you do choose to go farther, be mindful of your exposure to others. Wear a mask and consider wearing gloves.
But even if you do drive across the country, your 10 or so stops at gas stations is still less exposure to others than walking through the airport and sitting on an airplane full of other people.
2. Bring your own meals
One thing I did on my trip was to eat out as little as possible. I do this normally because I love to travel cheaply, but I was extra cautious this year. I only ate out three times – two times being a drive-through restaurant and once was an outdoor walk-up window.
The rest of the time I made sandwiches and had dehydrated meals from the back of my car. And honestly, I really enjoyed it. A pro COVID travel tip – invest in a Yeti. I did have to buy ice a few times, but very little.
3. Bring your own snacks and drinks
I started bringing my own snacks and drinks a while back in order to save money. I also wanted to cut down on my single-use plastic. But this works well as a COVID travel tip too. Because I wasn’t buying snacks and drinks, I was not going into the gas station as much. Nor was I interacting with people as much.
In some places I stopped, I had no interaction with others at all, only handling the pump.
4. Do your shopping at home
If you bring your own groceries for food and snacks, do your shopping in your own hometown. This minimized your exposure to other towns. By shopping in your hometown, it’s one less stop you make along the way.
5. Make sure your vehicle has a full tune-up
Also before you leave, you will want to make sure your vehicle has had a full tune-up. Tell your mechanic that you are traveling far away and have him look over the vehicle for any possible problems.
I do this anyway when I travel. But it’s a great tip for COVID travel because it keeps you from being exposed to others by helping your vehicle to not break down.
6. Be mindful of sensitive areas
Some places are hit harder than others. Remember when you travel during COVID or any pandemic, you are not only putting yourself at risk but also others. Some communities are small and have limited resources, especially communities near outdoor destinations.
Places like the Navajo Nation have been hit particularly hard. Simply being mindful and choosing to go to those areas another year can have a big impact.
7. Be flexible
When traveling in uncertain times, it’s always good to be flexible. Like I said before, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to go until the day I left. But I did have a backpack up plan in the event my trip needed to be canceled. I also had a plan in the event I got to my destination and things were suddenly shut down or there was a travel ban on Arkansas.
8. Know the COVID travel guidelines
It’s so important to know the restrictions and guidelines for COVID at the destination you are traveling to. You also need to know what restrictions your hometown, home state, and are have. Now the numbers of new positive cases and whether they are declining and falling as well.
9. Minimize your exposure 14 days before and after your trip
Lastly, you want to make sure that you are not out being exposed to many people for at least 14 days before and after your trip. My office only closed for one month for COVID this year. So I still had to go to work every day, but I made sure to curb my eating out and other risking activities before and after my trip.
I understand not everyone can quarantine for 14 days before and after a vacation. But a good rule of thumb for a COVID travel tip is to minimize your exposure as much as possible before and after.
COVID Travel Tips
It’s a hard time right now. I hate uncertainty. It makes it really hard to plan and get excited about a trip. And for some people travel during a global pandemic is still necessary. But following some COVID travel tips can make a big impact. I am very fortunate to have still been able to go.