Planning any type of trip is stressful (budgeting, choosing the destination, and arranging a babysitter), but when you want to safely get away during a pandemic, it can make you question whether the whole thing is worth it.
My husband and I are big homebodies and love spending time with each other. Like many couples, we hadn’t been on a date outside of the house, sticking to movie nights at home and attempting to bond over new hobbies. But parenting two rambunctious boys and managing our busy jobs, homeschooling, and therapies for our son with autism, we were nearly burned out about six months into the pandemic. But it wasn’t until we went to my father’s funeral that I realized I wasn’t appreciating being alive quite enough.
For our own mental health, my husband and I needed a safe way to get a break. We started by having a discussion about the risks. As a person with disabilities, I fell into the high-risk category and did not want to be reckless just to have a little fun when it could have serious consequences for myself or others.
Here’s are some tips we learned to plan a safe getaway.
1. Consider staying relatively close to home
We settled on going on a local staycation at a hotel a little over an hour away from our home in Pennsylvania. This way we did not have to make stops for gas or bathroom breaks that would increase our exposure.
2. Follow social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines
We checked our temperature, stayed 6 feet apart, wore masks in public areas, and limited contact with other people as much as possible. We researched the number of cases in our community versus the number of cases in the area we planned to visit, a two-week decline in cases is ideal.
You can also quarantine before and after the vacation to make sure you are not asymptomatic. Additionally, you can also get tested for COVID at your closet facility; many still have drive-up testing.
3. Strategize your time and activities
We chose massages as one bigger activity we could both enjoy and wore our masks the entire time. The staff cleaned each room well before and after every appointment, and the massage therapist washed their hands thoroughly before and after the massage. For the rest of the trip, we relaxed in the jacuzzi in our hotel suite, rented movies online, and slept as much as possible. It was basically heaven for two tired parents.
You could try picking one or two “big” activities to do safely and then choose an accommodation where you can enjoy spending a few quiet days alone or with your partner.
4. Support local businesses
For most of our meals, we made it a priority to choose restaurants we could get takeout from but splurged for one restaurant meal out on our anniversary. We made sure to go where a contactless menu was available and a kiosk was available for self-pay.
If you are doing any sort of travel, it is key to support businesses and respect all efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. Follow all posted rules and regulations and pay by credit cards or debit cards instead of cash. Since many small businesses are struggling right now, it is also important to tip generously. At a minimum, consider tipping 20 percent or more for the extra risk service workers are taking.
5. Make accommodations for your accommodations
When we prepped for our getaway, we made sure to pack basic cleaning supplies. From the moment we stepped in the lobby, we were so happy with the precautions the staff was taking and only had to interact with one receptionist through a divider while we wore masks. We also loved that we had separate entrances to each room where we could park our car in front of our door, limiting exposure to ourself and others. The entire time we were there, we only saw the staff twice and another patron once from over 6 feet away.
For your trip, make sure to choose a place where COVID restrictions are taken seriously. Call ahead and scope out the online reviews. Bring basic cleaning supplies to sanitize where you’re staying and remember to leave separate room in your suitcase for items that need to be sanitized.
6. Over prepare
There’s no better time to be over-prepared than in a pandemic. During our mini-vacation, we made sure to do our best to prepare for any eventuality. We made sure all of our electronics are charged at all times, brought extra masks, sanitizer, and backups just in case. We also had a stock of sanitizing wipes, so we could clean our car, hotel room, and other items when needed.
When arranging childcare during a pandemic, we also secured a low-risk relative that was prepared to handle an emergency if it should arrive. We stocked the house with thermometers, Tylenol, and doctor’s numbers. And made sure to stay close enough that we could reach home quickly if something happened.
While not everyone may feel comfortable traveling during a pandemic, there are ways to lower the risks. It is important to discuss your concerns with your family, check ongoing CDC guidelines, understand any implications of travel with your school or daycare, and do only what makes you feel comfortable. Of course, if at any time before your trip you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or think you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed, do not go. Remember you can always use the time during isolation to plan and save for a fantastic trip in the future.