As we enter the second year of a world in pandemic mode, we as humans are craving exploring the great outdoors. While travel has changed drastically, there are still ways to explore and plan vacations safely. Military families are not immune to travel during pandemic, with many having to travel to complete Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders. Many states limit nonessential travel still, so vacation planning will look different during a pandemic. With different planning, a break from the monotony of stay at home, and the virtual school can be safely completed.
- Stay Local. The safest way to travel is to stay in your local area. Many states now require quarantine either before or after travel to the state, except for those traveling on government orders. Planning a staycation locally means you are aware of the current requirements and guidelines for the area. There is the advantage of being aware of resources like grocery stores and medical care if needed. And there is no travel needed outside of your own personal vehicle.
- Review the COVID-19 Cleaning Guidelines. If you are looking to stay at a hotel, call to inquire about the COVID-19 cleaning guidelines they follow and ensure they have flexible cancellation policies. Many hotels are following more stringent cleaning policies and require a gap between guests in the rooms.
- Keep trips short. Gauge your comfort level with short staycations. Traveling is not the same as it once was, and it can cause an increase in anxiety in some. If you are wary of traveling, pick a location near you and for a day or two. Feeling uncomfortable? Head home, and even if you can’t get all of your payback, less money is lost.
- Get outdoors. Free exploration through hiking is a wonderful way to get outdoors for a fun vacation. There is lots of space to move, keeping more than 6 feet from others freely. Tent camping allows for the family group to stay together and enjoy the space. Bringing and prepping your own food and sleeping in your own sleeping bags means you are in charge of your living quarters and food.
- RV it. Like camping – this is a home on wheels. You can grocery shop once a week and take it on the road, pulling into RV/campgrounds for refueling and waste dump. It is economical and limits contact with others outside your family group. Remain mindful of travel restrictions and consider staying within your state for exploring.
- Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. Let’s repeat it. Remember to bring sanitization. Just like leaving your home to grocery shop, wherever you travel, bring sanitizer with you.
- Discuss travel plans with a travel agent. Travel agents are updated with current travel restrictions for areas and aware of each area’s refundable policies.
- Go completely virtual. The safest way to “vacation” is in your own home. Consider “camping” under the stars with live and wildlife cams of National Parks while laid out in sleeping bags in your living room.
- Book charades at home. Escape through the pages of a book by reading a book out loud with your family and act out scenes as you are able.
- Cooking camp. Another at-home vacation through culinary exploration. Choose a cookbook you have at home or can find online and cook around the world at home.
Vacation planning may look different this year, but it can be done – locally or virtually. As with any travel, continue to check for travel restrictions and updates prior to any travel.