A New Normal
It’s no secret that travel has changed in the last few months. The coronavirus has affected millions and the way we go about our daily lives. But it looks as though travel is beginning to make a comeback, and many families are trying to squeeze in a summer vacation during these last few weeks before school returns. While road trips and camping are taking center stage, travelers are also returning to the skies with the reassurance from airlines about cleanliness and new air filtration systems. Whichever you decide is best for your family, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind this summer.
Get a Face Mask Your Child Enjoys Wearing
It’s no secret many people don’t enjoy wearing a face mask, and children are no exception. But with more public places requiring face coverings, it’s important to get your child excited about wearing one. The easiest way is to try out different styles to see what works best for them, and then get a fun design on it. Disney has released their own line of face masks with some of their favorite characters on them.
Practice Wearing a Face Mask
Kids are apt to copy their parents—monkey see, monkey do. Make sure you’re always wearing your own face-covering in public. And be sure to practice wearing a face mask with your child before spending an extended period of time in public with one on. If your child is under two, they likely will not be required to wear one. But if you’re worried about exposing them, put them in a stroller and cover them with a blanket while in public.
Bring a Hand-Held Fan
Facial coverings can get hot. And, if you’re traveling somewhere with a warm climate, it can feel less than pleasant to wear one. But if you have a handy-dandy battery-powered fan with you, you can stay cool and calm while it helps to circulate the air around you. If you’re opting to keep your little one covered in a stroller, then it is definitely important to also have a fan under the blanket with them.
Pack a Reusable Water Bottle
Hydration breaks allow kids a moment of reprieve while adjusting to wearing facial coverings. Just make sure to stop in places you’re able to be socially distant from others. And, as more places are banning single-use plastic bottles, it’s easier to know you always have one handy by bringing your own.
Pack Hand Sanitizer
Washing your hands is just as important as wearing a facial covering. And TSA changed their policy in March on the size of the hand sanitizer bottle allowed in a passenger’s carry-on. This change in policy is in direct relation to the coronavirus pandemic, and it is unclear when TSA will revert to the old standard of 3.4 ounces for liquid items.
Book With a Travel Advisor
Booking with a travel advisor is more important than ever. Countries are opening and then re-closing. And parents have enough to worry about when preparing for a vacation to keep up to date on all the latest rules, regulations and closures. A travel advisor can not only stay on top of all of this for you but if a problem does arise, they can help you change your vacation bookings, whether you’re about to leave for your trip or even if you’re already at your destination.
Double Check Hotel Policies Before Booking
Before you book your vacation, look into the new policies hotels have in place due to the coronavirus. Some are offering guests free medical insurance with their stay, while others are waving their cancellation policies up to 48 hours before your scheduled stay. Knowing about these new policies can help you to save money if you end up having to change your reservation.
If Flying Internationally, Look at the Latest Regulations for Your Destination
Many countries are requiring a negative COVID-19 test to enter into the country. Others are compelling visitors to stay quarantined at their hotel for a designated time period until their test results come back.
Check With Your Airline and Airport About New Policies and Procedures
Airlines and airports have also been consistently updating their policies in response to the coronavirus. And while it seems that traveling by air has never been cleaner—with new air filtration systems on planes and increased cleaning protocols—passenger responsibility has also increased.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time at the Airport
Just because fewer people are traveling does not mean there won’t be a line for TSA. You should still plan to arrive at least an hour before your boarding time or more if traveling internationally. As people try to socially distant themselves as much as possible, this can also add to increased wait times too—i.e. reduced number of people allowed on elevators.
Opt for Checking Your Luggage
The less you have to lug through the airport and airport security, the easier it will be on you. I’ve traveled through the airport twice as a new mom during the pandemic now. And the time I checked all of my luggage, made my time in the airport noticeably less stressful. Plus if you have an airline credit card, most likely you’ll receive your first checked bag for free.
Make TSA as Seamless as Possible
TSA has added a new website in response to the coronavirus to update passengers not only on confirmed COVID-19 cases among its employees but also to keep track of new policies and procedures. Don’t be surprised if TSA requests you to scan all your ticketing documents before going through security. You’ll also be asked to pull down your face mask to confirm your identity. Review these new procedures, pack liquids in a clear plastic bag that can easily be taken out of your carry-on and separate any food you are bringing through security from your luggage. If you’re traveling with breastmilk or formula, know that it will need to be tested or you will need to undergo a pat-down. Also, it’s always a good idea to bring birth certificates with you just in case—especially if you’re traveling with an infant under two years of age in your lap.
Plan for Restaurants and Quick Food Options to Be Closed at the Airport
Many restaurants closed down amid the coronavirus pandemic. With fewer visitors to airports, restaurants and quick-service food options also decided to shut their doors. It’s not uncommon to see most businesses in airports shut down right now, and those that have remained open often have long lines. And if you’re traveling with kids—or even a spouse—who can go from zero to hangry in a matter of seconds, do yourself a favor and pack your own snacks. These just need to be separated out from your luggage when traveling through security.
Be Strategic in How You Pack Your Car
Many people have opted to hit the open road for their family vacation this year. And if you’ve ever been on an extended trip in the car with your family, you may already know how important it is to have certain items within easy reach—i.e. snacks, favorite toys, wipes, etc. If you’re nervous about stopping at rest stops for bathroom breaks—keep in mind, most fast-food restaurants are still restricting themselves to drive-thru only—consider having a portable training potty for your little children; although this probably won’t work for those past the toddler stage.
Rent Your Own RV
Consider renting your own traveling camper for your family this year. You can disinfect it however you deem fit before leaving and then stay comfortably in your own space as you travel around the country. And with so many unique RV camping resorts, you may not even want to leave your campsite.
Opt for Places Where Being Socially Distant Comes Easily
National parks, camping and getting out in nature seem to be popular travel ideas this summer. There’s so much of this beautiful country to see that keeping your family travel this year to a domestic destination shouldn’t feel like a hassle. There are also plenty of re-opened beaches where social distancing is the norm anyways.
Use Grocery Pick-Up Services at Your Destinations
Getting sick while on vacation is miserable. Lessen your chances by opting to use grocery pick-up or delivery services instead of going out to restaurants. Plus buying groceries and making dinners in your vacation rental also help travelers stick to a budget during this economic downturn.
Wipe Down High Contact Spots at Your Hotel When You Check In
Many hotels have increased their cleanliness standards and are training staff on new protocols. Walt Disney World is going all out in their phased re-opening to make sure guests feel safe returning to their resorts. But you can always give yourself extra peace of mind by wiping down any high contact services/items when you first arrive—especially if you have a toddler who’s first thought is to put everything in their mouth.
If You’re Unsure About Cleanliness, Don’t Be Afraid to Bring Your Own
You want to travel, but you’re nervous. That is 100 percent understandable in today’s climate. Don’t be afraid to bring your own pillow, sheets, etc. if that’s going to make you feel better. If you’re traveling with a little one, bring a travel crib for them so you don’t have to rely on the hotels.
If You or a Family Member Are Unwell, Stay Home
Many destinations are doing non-invasive temperature checks to ensure guest and staff safety. Thermal screenings are even becoming the norm at airports. If someone in your family is running a temperature, stay home. Some places are even turning away whole groups if just one person is running a temperature.
Grab One of the Best Travel Deals Now for Travel Later
Travel is different right now and the uncertainty of this virus can be downright overwhelming right now. The tourism industry is hurting, but travelers can capitalize on this uncertain time by snagging some of the best deals to be used at a later date. Book with a travel advisor and rest assured your travel will be taken care of if policies change before your departure.
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