Stay Healthy and Safe When Traveling
1. Research Airline and Hotel Safety Guidelines
Research hotels and airlines to ensure you know their COVID guidelines and how they’re keeping you safe. Many airlines are taking extra steps and going above and beyond to keep us safe. One example is Delta who has a rigorous cleaning and disinfecting process. They are also blocking out middle seats until January 6th, 2021, to allow more space between passengers. I’m flying Delta in December when I go to New York for this very reason. I was able to pick the seat I wanted, which is a window seat. All the middle seats were blocked off and unavailable in the seat selection process.
Just like picking a reputable airline, you’ll want to make sure your hotel or Airbnb is taking extra safety precautions. Check their website or reach out directly to learn what their cleaning protocols are and learn more about their overall commitment to your safety and health. When I was researching places to stay on the North Shore this past summer, I found one hotel was only washing comforters once a month. Normally, I would probably be fine with that, but given the pandemic, I was not comfortable and decided to stay elsewhere.
If you’re staying at an Airbnb, look for the “Enhanced Clean” label right below the property’s images. Airbnb’s “Enhanced Clean” program puts hosts through an intense training and testing process. Hosts that pass the test will have the new “Enhanced Clean” tag displayed on their listings. Hosts are allowed to opt-out of participating in the “Enhanced Clean” program, and can instead choose to leave their listings unoccupied for 72-hours in between guests, which would be displayed under the property’s image as well.
2. Buy Travel Insurance
Buy travel insurance and check that you’re booking with airlines and hotels that have reasonable cancellation policies. I had to cancel several flights this past spring and summer with a few different airlines. It got so confusing which airlines gave me my money back, versus travel points back to my Chase Sapphire card, versus a credit to a future flight. And of course, they all have different timelines on how long the credit lasts before expiring. I ended up creating an Excel document to track all of the refunds and credits I had received and which ones I still hadn’t heard a response from. To make things easy for you, The Points Guy compiled a huge list of all major airlines and their current COVID change and cancellation policies.
3. Always be Prepared
You never know what could happen. Maybe your flight gets delayed, or you have a flat tire on your rental car. Or maybe your hike takes much longer than expected and you’re hiking back in the dark. All of these things have happened to me. I always have healthy snacks on hand, like granola bars, cashews, or a piece of fruit like an apple. I also always have a mini hand sanitizer bottle, and on longer trips, I bring a tiny first aid kit with essentials like bandages and ibuprofen. Be sure to bring a reusable water bottle with you as well. And of course, don’t forget to pack extra masks, and emergency cash.
4. Check Local Safety Requirements
You should always check to see what’s going on in the city or country you’re heading to before you go, whether it’s to be informed about political unrest, a hurricane warning or the current coronavirus pandemic. Some states require COVID testing before landing, or shortly after you’ve landed, or both. Do your research ahead of time and check back often because it keeps changing as cases rise and fall.
5. Always Wear a Mask
This goes without saying. Many states, airlines, resorts, restaurants, and other public spaces require masks. Plus, it’s the right thing to do to keep yourself and those around you safe. If you want to be extra careful, wear a face shield in addition to your mask. I purchased face shield to wear when I fly to New York next month because I have a few high risk family members in New York, and I’m not taking any chances.
6. Get Outside
Eat, drink and visit with friends and family outside whenever possible. Some things to think through include keeping celebrations small, staying six feet apart, and taking into consideration where people are traveling from and if they are high-risk states or countries. For suggestions on outdoor heated patios in the Twin Cities check out one of my latest blog posts, and look through the CDC’s holiday celebration guidelines.
7. Get Tested
Some states, hotels, resorts, etc. require you to be tested a few days before your departure and a few days after landing. Make sure you know the rules based on your destination. Sometimes there can be a big fine if you don’t follow the guidelines. New York recently changed their guidelines to require testing before someone arrives in New York and shortly after arrival, so that’s something I’ll be doing in December.
Looking for more inspiration? Read my post on 37 COVID safe outdoor winter activities.