By Brittany Carlson
After a year of spending more time at home than ever before due to quarantines and shut-downs, a vacation sounds amazing! But due to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, traveling can be a lot more complicated than it used to be.
If you’re planning a family vacation, here are few tips to keep in mind from fellow parents.
- Check the CDC website for Covid-19 requirements and regulations for the area you plan to visit. Are quarantines or Covid-19 tests required for visitors?
Rules vary from state to state in the United States, as my friend Lisa pointed out:
“Every state has different governor mandates on their position of masks, eating inside restaurants and with kids,” she said. “You’ll want to call ahead if you plan on going to any family attractions to ensure they are open.”
Some tourist locations still have not opened or are operating on reduced hours.
She added that websites aren’t always reliable. “Indoor play places are open, but we recently tried going to one and couldn’t because it was being rented out for a birthday party and that family had to rent the entire place during those hours. Those types of nuances are tricky now.”
This is why advanced reservations are so important right now.
- Make advanced reservations as much as possible.
Many venues require visitors to buy tickets in advance for a specific time, so the earlier you start planning, the better, as my friend Jennifer pointed out.
“I would make sure to reserve tickets online if you are doing something like aquariums, zoos or anything that is partly indoors,” she said. “A lot of venues have caps on [capacity] right now and things get sold out way quicker.”
My friend Kristin has experienced this first-hand during a family vacation. “Some of the attractions on our recent trip were still closed,” she said. “We found that we needed tickets or reservations to things that otherwise we could have walked into and sometimes those tickets sold out weeks or months before our travel time.”
“We have had the best luck going to outdoor-type destinations, like the beach,” she added.
This brings me to third point.
- Adjust your plans to fit your family. If the idea of wearing a mask and trying to socially distance in bigger crowds doesn’t seem fun to you, don’t plan a trip to Disney World right now. Instead, try for an outdoor or secluded location, such as the mountains or beach. My family booked a rental cabin in the woods in Gatlinburg, Tenn., last Christmas and brought in coolers with our own food. We didn’t have to deal with crowds, mask wearing or feeling unsafe, and we still got to get away and see some beautiful scenery. (Check out websites like Vrbo and Airbnb for vacation rentals).
- Wherever you travel, be sure to pack extra face masks and hand sanitizer. Face masks are still required in most indoor facilities (and many outdoor ones). If you plan to be out all day, make sure you pack extra masks for yourself and everyone in your party in case they get wet or dirty. Hand sanitizer is also great for when you don’t have immediate access to running water and soap.
- Finally, check your own state and county’s Covid-19 regulations as well. You don’t want to return from vacation to find you are required to quarantine for 14 days (or that your child can’t return to school right away due to Covid-19 requirements).
It’s also important to check with your employer before you book a vacation, as my military friend Rachel pointed out. Many companies now require employees who leave the local area to quarantine and/or produce a negative Covid-19 test before they return to work.
It has never been more important to plan ahead in order to experience the vacation you’re dreaming about. It might seem like a lot of work, but the extra research before your trip will eliminate a lot of unexpected surprises during and after your vacation. Take it from those of us who have already gone on a trip or two this year: you’ll be glad you checked the rules in advance.