We live in a strange world. The new normal (and many of us hate to call it that way) is anything but normal and has left us calculating the risk of everything. Is it safe to go for grocery shopping? Is it safe to visit my friends? Is it safe to go for a hike? With these questions in mind , you can imagine that summer vacation presents whole host of dilemmas and insecurities. This is the longest me and Manhar have stayed in Boston at a stretch ( 5 Months) . And I can’t even imagine how would it be for kids who have been waiting for summer vacation, to hit the road with families and make memories. So to help you out , I have created a Q&A for anyone confused about traveling right now. This will definitely help you in answering the basic question about Summer Vacation – Is it save to travel yet?
Lets start locally : Can i drive to nearby states?
Yes we all have been aching to take advantage of summer. But just before we get fast and furious , do check the quarantine period requirement in the visiting states.
Me and Manhar were planning to visit Acadia national park thinking we could drive there and avoid public transport. When we checked the state policies ,it appeared that state of Maine had 14 days of quarantine period. Hence we could not plan our trip. So I will definitely advice to research state and local government policies in places where you might stay overnight.Here is the link to USA Today and they have compiled a state-by-state list of travel policies and restrictions.
Hotel or Airbnb , where should I stay?
I have mixed feelings for both of these options – not that there is any other alternative , unless you believe in camping. Airbnb might seem lucrative as it involves less contact with others but there might be significant variation in adherence to good cleaning procedures. For Airbnb, depending on your destination – do look for super-hosts and ask them about measures they are taking to limit the spread of corona-virus. They should be able to tell you about their cleaning procedures , contactless key exchange and how frequently are they renting the house. Depending on this information , check the cancellation policies before you book any Airbnb.
Hotels pose the risk of transmission specially in the common areas where you end up sharing the space like lobbies and elevators. However , Many large chains have outlined the specifics of their enhanced cleaning protocols and are following the CDC guidelines when it comes to air filters and keeping the rooms vacant for atleast 2 days before giving to any guest. The added advantage of hotels over Airbnb is the fact that the cancellation policies of the hotels are very very flexible. So at any given time if you are not comfortable travelling , you can cancel free of cost. In Airbnb, the cancellation policies are less flexible and most of the time you will be required to pay the service fee at the minimum when you cancel.
Should I fly or drive to my destination?
It really depends how far is your destination . A car drive with stops along the way could pose risks, depending how you interact with others. Take care of following things :
- Take food and water with you – specifically non-perishables in case restaurants and stores are closed along the way.
- Make sure you have medicine and hand sanitizer as well as cleaning supplies.
- Avoid stopping at too many places, though when you have to, be sure you follow the aforementioned hygiene guidelines at bathroom stops and gas stations along the way.
Now I am sure there will be destinations for which driving will not be an option. Airlines these days have enhanced the cleanliness measures and trying to make everything contactless like check in, baggage-drop and even boarding. The airplanes are not packet to their utmost capacity and the new hand baggage restrictions in place , the airlines are really trying to limit the spread of corona-virus. Carry sanitizer and wear mask – n I think you will be good to go.
If I do plan to drive , is renting a car ok ?
The risk of getting corona-virus is really low while renting the car as you are not travelling with strangers ( provided you don’t let any hitchhikers in 😉 ). I mean if you are quarantining at home with family , and I assume you are taking this trip with family its safe to assume that all are healthy. That being said before you rent the car do check the cleaning rules of the renting company and do not forget to ask the company following questions :
1) What product do you use for disinfecting?
2) How often do you use them?
3) When was the car last disinfected, and how frequently is it disinfected? Is it after every use?
4) When was the car last rented and have they been in situation where one of the renters tested covid positive? What is the protocol in that situation?
For the cars I can say that between the thorough cleaning and practicing good hand hygiene – you are good to go.
Camping or Beach life ?
Who does not like spending a day by the sea and reading your favorite book. With July 4 coming , I am sure many of you might have plans for beach day or spending night or two in a campground. But before you go, take into account the basics of hygiene. Make sure that the beach is not very crowded and you are able to get a secluded spot to maintain proper social distancing. With both camping and Beaches , avoid using shared facilities and if you do use ( I know use of toilets is ….) practice good hygiene measures. Apply same basics: social distancing, disinfecting surfaces, washing hands, wearing masks.
For camping make sure that you pre-book the campsites. Be aware of the fact that while many state and national parks have re-opened , not all facilities in these parks is open for public yet. Try to choose less popular parks in your area, and find another spot if the trail or campground you’re eyeing is crowded.
I hope based on the questions above you are able to pick your next adventure. Whatever you may decide, please do not forget to wear the mask and practice the social distancing wherever possible. In my next blog post I will share some moderately trafficked, moderately strenuous hikes around Boston. So stay tuned. Thank you so much for stopping by.