Can we get away? Yes you can! Just keep these Do’s and Don’t in mind.
As travel restrictions are gradually easing worldwide, people are beginning to consider more destinations to travel to. I believe we are past the lowest point of travel shut-downs and there is finally light ahead as more flights resume and mandatory quarantines slowly get lifted. As such, I have been getting asked where to travel to for a summer trip, a weekend, just somewhere to get away and out of the home bubble. Here’s a guideline to making travel work this summer:
- Don’t plan international travel for the foreseeable future. Many open countries require strict COVID procedures, and some of the experience may be hindered due to the Pandemic. Even as countries open, others are closing again to US travelers. An abrupt closure the morning of your trip is an instant cancellation of your plans. Int’l travel is basically a no-go for the summer for the most part.
- Don’t even consider booking a cruise departing in 2020. It’s just not worth it, period. Certain regions have already fully cancelled all cruises including New England, Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii for 2020. Other regions have cancelled at least until November. Obtaining refunds is complicated and timely. Cruising in the near future is just asking for problems. And besides, all you need is one person on board to become infected…
- Don’t book any travel unless you’re more than 50% sure you plan to go and are willing to accept all terms and potential travel credits.
- Don’t plan anything too far in advance in detail. Within a week or two of travel will give you the best picture of the status of openings in the destination. Additionally, prices are continuing to drop again for some flight routes and destinations, and travel deals are popping up. It’s also possible that you may overpay if you book too soon. The exception is a hard-to-get reservation, like a specific Air bnb or RV rental. Just mind the cancellation / change fees.
- Don’t book any non-refundable travel more than a week in advance.
- Don’t book a luxury or amusement resort in a region still in the early stages of reopening. Instead of splurging on an experience you may or may not get, it may be worth waiting until you can get more bang for your buck.
- Plan to be based in a location with lots of public natural attractions nearby. Those are the easiest, most refreshing, and most available places to visit.
- Keep in mind that most available attractions are outdoors, so try to stay somewhere with a pool and good a/c in a hot location like Phoenix, Vegas, or Orlando. You may not have the refreshing mall or restaurant a/c to cool down with.
- Try to rent a vacation rental vs. a hotel, especially for a family stay. Many hotel facilities are limited to just accommodations (depends on location), and no one minds extra space and a private setting these days. Finding a rental with a pool is a bonus, but out of Orlando those tend to be sparse and pricey for the next while. Airbnb, VRBO, and Marriot Homes and Villas are good places to search.
- Be flexible when researching vacation rentals. When browsing on a rental website, start with specific parameters you’re looking for in a location you desire. Then zoom out of the map window and adjust the filters in order to show more listings until you find one you’re comfortable with. Be prepared to compromise on a factor or two including price, location, quality, size, and features / amenities. The perfect dream home can be very difficult to find. Some require a minimum time of stay.
- Consider renting an RV for that long dreamed-of road trip. They are popular now because they offer a private space and limited interaction with others. They give you the opportunity and flexibility to hit up beautiful parks and travel at your own pace. Outdoorsy.com and rvshare.com are good choices for private rentals.
- Consider renting a private pool at swimply.com. You can rent a private boat at boatsetter.com or getmyboat.com.
- Research EVERY cancellation / change policy for EVERY booking at the time of purchase:
- Car Rentals (You should never prepay or give cc even if it’s a tad cheaper)
- Be aware of airline policies. If THEY cancel the flight you may be entitled to a refund, whereas if YOU cancel it then you will in most cases only receive a flight credit. Most airlines are flexible at least to that degree, but keep this in mind before purchasing tickets.
- Understand all flight and int’l entry policies wherever you plan to go. Most countries that are open require proof of a negative COVID test before arrival (to avoid having to quarantine there). Most airports, airlines, and public areas require masks and social distancing. Keep this in mind wherever you go.
- Be aware of quarantine policies for returning from travel. The Tri-State ban already includes all but 16 states to quarantine from. From comparing notes with different travelers this means filling out and submitting a form upon arrival at a Tri-State airport. There is little to no enforcement beyond that, and there is no road checkpoint set up. It is based on a trust system and strict penalties were threatened, but each to their own. Consider taking a COVID test upon return for peace of mind.
- Consider buying travel insurance. You can’t buy ‘cancel for any reason’ anymore but if you get sick c”v then you will be covered. However, a gov’t ban or personal fear of travel will not be covered if you need to cancel.
- Pack a bag with some ‘Pandemic essentials.’ Don’t go crazy on the disinfectants but you never know when you’ll have to use a public restroom or touch public surfaces and those wipes and sanitizer bottles will come in handy.
- Check if reservation permits are required for parks. Keep in mind many state or national parks require early arrival before parking lots fill up.
- Support local restaurants and shops whenever possible. Many are just starting to reopen and depend heavily on every customer and visitor.
- Respect local guidelines for visiting any region. Check local shul policies before entering for a minyan. Some regions have limited operations for shuls and restaurants.
Don’t feel like you have no place to go. Get in the car and drive somewhere! Just be mentally prepared for some new norms and ALWAYS do research up until the last minute for any new restrictions. Policies can change any time. Hopefully this Pandemic will soon be over and travel can return to pre-Covid days.