Many people postponed or canceled their vacations when COVID-19 first hit. But now that it’s been here for months and shows no signs of slowing anytime soon, people are starting to want to resume their travel plans. With the holidays coming up even more people are likely to wonder if they should go on vacation during a pandemic. Here are something things to consider as you make that decision for yourself.
Pandemic Travel Pros and Cons Are Personal
Ultimately, the decision about whether or not to go on a vacation during a pandemic is a highly personal one. After all, even if other people would feel safe doing so, you’re not going to enjoy your vacation if traveling during this time feels very stressful for you. On the other hand, you might regret not attending a very special event despite the risks of COVID. You have to decide if the potential gains are worth the potential losses.
Benefits of Taking a Vacation During a Pandemic
Here are some of the reasons that people say that they have or would take a vacation during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Travel is cheaper. Whether you fly or rent a car, the rates may be cheaper right now since fewer people are traveling. Likewise, housing may be cheaper.
- You really need to get away from home. If you’ve been sheltering-in-place / working from home then you might just really feel like you have to get out of the house. Balancing the health risks of taking a vacation during a pandemic with the mental health challenges of staying stuck at home might find you erring on the side of getting out and about.
- You might not need to take vacation time. If you’re working remotely, perhaps you can work during your trip. If you usually have to work in an office, this can be a different experience for you and might be one that you enjoy.
- You want to attend a big event, such as someone’s wedding or family reunion. Remember that big crowds do put you at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. That said, if you don’t want to miss a big event, then you might find it worth it to travel.
Drawbacks of Taking a Vacation During a Pandemic
- Travel is less convenient. Although cheaper, you may find that it’s not as convenient as usual to take a vacation during a pandemic. Fewer hotels are open. Flights are (theoretically anyway) not booked to full capacity. So, getting the logistics taken care of might be harder than you’re used to.
- The things you want to do might not be open. Museums, stores, restaurants, and other places that you might want to visit could be closed. Even if they are open, they might be operating a smaller capacity, so you may have trouble getting in. If you’re the type of person that likes to see all of the hot spots when you travel then it might not make sense to vacation during a pandemic.
- Your exposure to COVID-19 is greater than if you stayed home. Learn more from the CDC about taking a vacation during a pandemic.
Things to Consider for Pandemic Vacation
If you weigh the pros and cons and decide that you do want to take a vacation during a pandemic, then make sure that you consider the following things:
Destinations for Pandemic Vacation
Where do you want to travel? Have you checked to make sure that you’re even allowed to travel there. Americans currently aren’t welcome in many destinations due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Moreover, have you checked to see how your desired destination is handling the pandemic? Even within the United States, COVID-19 rates and restrictions vary drastically. For example, San Francisco (which is one of the big cities with the lowest COVID-19 rates) has not yet reopened indoor dining.
Check the latest mask mandates and other requirements / precautions in your destination before you plan the trip. Also, make sure you know the most recent information for your destination’s quarantine regulations. Some areas, both within and outside of the United States, require a quarantine period from visitors upon arrival to the new area.
Means of Travel During a Pandemic
How are you going to get to your destination? Many people say that they wouldn’t want to travel by airplane during the pandemic. However, they may be comfortable doing a road trip their family. That said, a lot of people are going that route so many RV parks and campgrounds are booked full.
Cruise boats, trains, and buses are all travel options that have various restrictions during COVID-19. Consider the risks, weigh the benefits, and make sure that you know what the restrictions are for your chosen modes of travel.
Accommodations for Vacation During a Pandemic
First, check what accommodations options are available in your destination area. Are hotels open there? Are AirBnb rooms available or are they limited to rental only to essential workers?
Next, consider the risks of each option. Don’t hesitate to contact a hotel or AirBnB host to find out what precautions they are taking to reduce pandemic risks. For example, I took a weekend road trip to a hotel in a small town and some of their precautions included limited capacity, masks required in common areas, and no room cleaning during your stay but extra cleaning before and after.
Remember to review the amenities that will be closed before you book accommodations. For example, if you love to travel to hotels with spa service, you might be disappointed to learn that a hotel is open but its spa is closed during the pandemic. Likewise, a wine happy hour in the lobby of a boutique hotel may or may not be open.
Finally, you might consider alternatives to traditional accommodations. If you have a camper van or RV, perhaps camping makes the most sense. That said, people assuming that National Parks will be mostly empty could find that they’re booked full. Or, because it’s also fire/hurricane season, that they’re closed all together in certain areas. Plan ahead.
Additional Pandemic Considerations
Here are some of the other things that you’ll want to consider as you plan a vacation during a pandemic:
- What are your plans for meals? Do you feel safe getting restaurant take-out food? Should you bring a camping stove and prepare your own meals?
- Are all of your usual vaccines, including your annual flu shot, up to date?
- Do you have any specific medical conditions that put you at greater risk than average for COVID-19? If so, what precautions do you need to take to best protect yourself during the trip?
- Will you quarantine upon return home? What does that look like? Do you need to build that time into your vacation plan?
Weigh the pros and cons. Research so that you can plan ahead and take precautions. Then, if you decide to go, enjoy your vacation!
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