Travel plans may have been disrupted last year, but soon we'll be "on the road again," as Willie Nelson so famously sings. In fact, as vaccines continue to roll out and offer an added layer of protection for our health, many people, including industry experts, are starting to feel free to move about the country. Jan Jones, a hospitality and tourism professor at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, recently stated, "For the first time in a long time, I'm feeling optimistic about travel again."
As you begin to get comfortable with the idea of traveling and start making plans of your own, we'd like to offer a few tips that have your health and safety as the number one priority.
Let's begin with a few essentials that should be top of mind no matter what's going on in the world. This includes: researching your destination ahead of time to ensure you're staying in a safe area; being aware of your surroundings as you're touring new places; making copies of important documents and leaving them at home in a safe place; and keeping your friends and family updated with your itinerary. These are all good things to do.
Considering there's a "new normal" in many areas of our lives, including travel, we'd like to suggest a few additional safety guidelines:
1. Continue with Current Protocols
Always follow the guidelines and advice set forth by organizations such as the CDC and WHO, and practice safety measures no matter where you go. This includes wearing a mask, washing your hands, and maintaining social distance from anyone who doesn't live in your household. There's still a long way to go before we can travel safely without masks, even if you've been vaccinated.
2. Consider Driving
Many medical professionals consider driving a safe option for transportation, even in rented cars. The only caveat is not riding with passengers from outside of your household. If you have plans to road trip with your bestie, try to self-quarantine for two weeks before your trip and ensure everyone feels well before you roll out.
3. Protect Yourself with Private Stays
Infectious disease experts are saying that staying in a residential environment poses a much lower risk for virus transmission. So, as you're researching places to stay, keep in mind that booking a private rental through a company like Airbnb or VRBO could be a safer option. Your contact with other people will be minimal compared with hotel environments.
Bonus: If you're a resident of Resort Lifestyle Communities, be sure to check out our Travel Program. It's one of our most popular features and allows you to travel to any of our locations. You get to stay in a beautiful, well-appointed guest suite for up to five nights and enjoy familiar, chef-prepared meals free of charge. Plus, cleaning guidelines and safety protocols are consistent across all of our communities. This gives you the same peace of mind you've come to love in your home community.
4. Look to Nature
More people are choosing to travel to remote destinations located in beautiful, natural environments. These locations offer a sense of tranquility and peace of mind, in addition to plenty of opportunities for safely distanced activities in the great outdoors. Need some inspiration? Find a cozy cabin in the woods, reserve a lake house or a beach home where you can enjoy beautiful sunsets and walks along the shore, or head to the mountains for fresh air and energizing hikes among the natural splendor.
5. Be Open to Touchless Technology
The pandemic has fueled the growth of high-tech, touchless technologies in new ways. This includes touchlesspayment options in hotels as well as digital check-in and checkout. Touchless screening at airports is also expanding. The TSA is now testing biometric scanners at a few airports in the Washington, D.C. area to speed up the screening process and limit the opportunities for virus transmission. And, if you're planning to drive, you may find gas stations offering voice-command at the pump, which eliminates the need to insert your credit card and punch in your zip code to unlock the pump.
Some of this might sound like science fiction, but these advancements are real and offer incredible ways to keep us safe. With this in mind, be open to trying these new gadgets. If you find yourself needing help, ask someone. New technology is new for everyone, so lots of people will have questions!
6. Bring Your Health Documents
As more people take to traveling again, you may be required to have documents on hand that prove you're COVID-free. Proof of a negative test or vaccination may become necessary for flying. A growing number of airlines and airports are partnering with destinations to develop travel corridors, where people flying between select destinations can show proof of a negative test to avoid quarantine mandates.
For instance, Delta has a COVID-19 testing program between Atlanta and Rome that enables Americans who test negative for COVID-19 quarantine-free entry into Italy. As time goes on, these travel corridors may become less about testing and more about proving vaccination. So, keep track of your documents as you get tested or vaccinated and bring them on your trip, wherever that lovely place may be.
One final tip: If you're traveling domestically, restrictions and quarantine rules vary from state-to-state, so be sure to check this comprehensive guide from AARP before you go.
Enjoy the Journey
While there's no guarantee of complete safety, we believe the travel tips we've outlined will help reduce your risk. Our greatest wish is for you to stay healthy, feel confident, and enjoy being on the road again… goin' places that you've never been!
Want to learn more about the fabulous Travel Program at Resort Lifestyle Communities? We'd love to hear from you. Find a community near you, and call us anytime.