I’ve waffled a lot on whether to write this post, as I know everyone seems to be handling things quite differently in terms of travel during the pandemic. Some people feel comfortable flying, while others don’t. Some live in states in the US that are quite locked down. Others live in states or countries that are more open. It’s tricky to share pandemic travel tips, because it seems to be affecting different areas and families so differently.
Still, I know that I’ve spent quite a bit of time hunting for safe travel tips, and wished I could see what others were doing. It’s been tough not having a frame of reference. So I’m sharing these pandemic travel health tips with the disclaimer that they are simply what has worked for our family. I’m not telling anyone else to do the same or judging anyone for doing less or more. I’m NOT recommending that anyone travel during the pandemic. This is not prescriptive. And this is all with the knowledge that things could change very quickly. Things have been really bad this winter but I’m hopeful that we’ll feel more confident opening up travel more soon.
Whew! Now that I have my disclaimers out there, here are the pandemic travel tips that have helped us feel safe and stay healthy. I hope it helps you determine what makes you comfortable, as well!
12 Pandemic Travel Tips: Health Precautions That Have Been Helpful For Our Family
Travel By RV
Both Dan and I have high risk parents that live across the country from us. His parents hadn’t met our youngest baby, and mine had only seen her for a few days after she was born. The biggest reason we bought our RV is so we could safely quarantine to see them.
We considered a few other options for travel, including normal road tripping while staying in hotels with extra cleaning protocols. But we personally did not feel good about moving rapidly from one state to the next and staying at a variety of accommodations on the way. We also didn’t want to have to regularly go inside places for bathrooms. And we personally do not feel good about flying during this time.
With an RV, we have our bathroom with us. We have our beds with us. We have our kitchen with us. We’re very self contained. Of course, it isn’t completely void of risk. Still, RV travel felt like the best way to severely minimize that risk.
Strictly Quarantine Before, During, and After
One of the most important factors doesn’t really have anything to do with the travel itself. Instead, it has to do with how we conduct ourselves before, during, and after any travel.
We don’t see other people. We don’t have a quarantine pod. We don’t have any family in the area, and the family we visited had all strictly quarantined beforehand, as well. We’ve had 5 instances in the last 10 months when we’ve seen friends, and 3 of those were outdoors, masked, and largely distanced. All were separated from each other for well over 2 weeks. We almost always do grocery delivery. We feel very confident that we would not serve as modes of transmission when traveling other places.
Last week, one of our kiddos had the opportunity to return to school. He only goes 2 days per week for a couple hours each time, and is part of a small group. They leave the floor-to-ceiling windows open (benefits of being in California in January!). Still, this will (and should) impact travel as we will want to consider quarantine times.
Use Our Own Facilities
Since we have bathroom and kitchen facilities, we make it a point to only use our own. We don’t use other ones when they’re more convenient, or just because we want to avoid dumping as frequently. We exclusively use our own facilities.
Cook Most Meals & Use Curbside Pickup
We prepare probably 80-90% of our meals when traveling in an RV with kids. It’s better for our wallets and health, and is safer during pandemic travel. We never eat at a restaurant, either inside or outside (we occasionally do curbside pickup). For groceries, we also do curbside pickup. It’s so great that that’s an option so many places now!
One really convenient option if we’re not staying at a campground is to boondock in a Walmart parking lot when available, then pick up curbside groceries in the morning before leaving. So efficient!
Stay Outside & In Quieter Areas
While traveling, we don’t go inside places. As I mentioned, we use curbside pickup for groceries and takeout. We don’t visit museums or any indoor attractions. We only visit outdoor places, and try to stick to ones that will have more space (e.g., we’d choose a solitary hike over a crowded botanical garden any day).
We also avoid areas that are going to be crowded, even if they are outside. For instance, we haven’t walked around cities at all because of the higher likelihood of a lot of people being around. We don’t go to playgrounds. We try to maintain as much distance from others as possible whenever possible. We also try to consider time of day – for instance, early morning tends to be less crowded (and Google Maps even shares crowd timing information).
This should be a given, but we always wear masks when anywhere outside that has other people present. We try to stay on wider and less crowded trails, but there have been a few times when we’ve needed to pass closer than 6 feet away from others while hiking. Knowing what we know now about modes of transmission, we feel those brief seconds of passing others while outside present low enough risk for us to feel comfortable.
That low risk is largely due to wearing masks, and we try to be extremely diligent about wearing ours. All our kids (except the baby) are very comfortable wearing theirs and we haven’t had any issues with compliance. (I really love these masks for both adults and kids – they’re so soft. These are also really comfortable. More about the extra protective mask we wear on rare occasions when one adult needs to go inside below.)
Wash and Sanitize Often
This is another thing that should be very obvious, but we wash hands often. We sanitize often on hikes, and certainly before eating. We sanitize after climbing on rocks. Of course, it’s not a perfect system but we try to be really diligent about the basic precautions.
Pay Online/Over the Phone When Possible, or Use a Contactless Credit Card
This is true for everything from restaurants to campgrounds. Even if there isn’t a way to pay online, if you call places, they will often take payment over the phone. If we absolutely must go in to pay somewhere, many places have contactless payments with a credit card or phone. If we do need to hand over a credit card, we always sanitize it and our hands after.
Contactless Gas Fill Ups with Food Handlers Gloves
This was something we always did before there was any need for pandemic travel tips, anyway, but we always only pay at the pump when filling up gas.
We also use one-time use food handlers gloves any time we fill gas, then dispose of them and also use hand sanitizer.
Overall, campgrounds have felt extremely safe to us. They almost always have either self check-in or outdoor check in, and we haven’t needed to get close to anyone at all. That said, we’ve been even more separated by dry camping a good bit. It saves money and keeps us even further from others.
P100 Mask On Rare Occasions One Adult Must Go Inside
There have been a few rare occasions when one adult has needed to go inside a building. Some examples – when we had an RV issue and needed to have something fixed at a repair shop, or when we needed a children’s medicine and had to run into a store.
On these occasions, we always only send one adult (usually Dan, who also wears glasses) into the store without any kids. That adult always wears this big protective mask with these p100 filters, which always gets some funny looks and often comments. Still, it blocks incoming and outgoing particles to a very small degree and we’ve been super grateful for it.
Follow All Local Guidelines
Finally, we always look up and follow all local guidelines. If a state doesn’t allow out-of-state visitors without a quarantine, we don’t visit. If state parks are closed to non-locals, we follow that. We don’t try to fudge rules and try to respect local regulations as closely as possible.
So those are the pandemic travel tips that have helped us feel comfortable. Like I said, I’m sure it won’t be enough for some and will be way too much for others. But it’s been good for us, and we feel very willing to give up some of the conveniences from loosening precautions in order to be able to still travel during this time.
I’d love to hear – have you done any travel during the pandemic? If so, what did it look like and what precautions did you take? And if not, what would help you feel comfortable doing so again?
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I really appreciate your candor in sharing your precautions. Ours look very similar with a few exceptions :
– We haven’t traveled out of state (I HATE not seeing my parents, but can’t quite work out the drive thing and don’t want to fly), but we’ve done getaways in cabins within 3 hours of our home.
– We make our own food or do takeout on those trips (although I go inside, masked, while the kids primarily wait outside in the locked car) and focus on outdoor activities like hikes, etc.
– I allow playgrounds, but only if there are very few people and they’re all wearing masks and we sanitize before and after playing. By very few, I mean like 1 or 2 other families, but we usually just go before 10 a.m. and have the place to ourselves.
I loved hearing about what you do and how cautious you’ve also been. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for sharing this level of detail! I imagine some of these have changed, even slightly to be a little more open – do you have any updates on what your protocols are lately? Our family has not traveled much in the past year and a half but are looking forward to doing some more as the summer winds down and into the fall. We’re inspired by your blog and so appreciative for all the things you share! Thank you!
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