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How to Plan a Family Trip During the Pandemic

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Family trips are a staple in America, especially around the holidays. But the pandemic has changed our lives in a major way. If you and your family need to travel to take care of a family member or other critical issues, make sure you do it safely.

Things aren’t what they used to be, but there are plenty of ways to take a trip and keep your family and others safe until this is all over. 

family travelling safely during covid, wearing masks and distancing

1 – Get Tested Before Leaving and Upon Arriving 

Have everyone get tested a week before traveling and make sure everyone stays quarantined at home until they get their results. Even if the test is negative, consider avoiding contact with others unless it’s absolutely necessary to reduce the risk of exposure. It might seem excessive, but a lot of test results can produce false negatives during the incubation period, which can occur anywhere within a two-week period. It’s why it doesn’t hurt to get tested upon arrival at the desired destination either.

2 – Do Some Research Before Heading Out

Whether you’re planning on driving through a city or a state, there might be checkpoints and travel restrictions in place that could put a damper on your trip. Take into consideration that some states may: 

  • Have stay-at-home orders that will prevent you from entering the state.
  • May require proof of a negative test result issued 24 to 48 hours before departing your state. 
  • May require travelers to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon arrival. 
  • May require a negative test to come back when you return.

In some cases, the destination may be open to travelers but a particular tourist hotspot like a national park or a theme parks might be closed due to an unexpected increase in outbreaks. Stay up to date with the current policies by visiting the state’s official website. 

3 – Traveling with kids? Then Get them Used to Practicing Standard Safety Precautions 

Educate kids on the importance of following standard safety precautions while traveling. Start out by reminding them to wash their hands regularly with soap and water for at least 30 seconds. If you don’t have access to a public restroom, then use an alcohol gel that kills at least 70% of germs. You can also carry a bottle of water and wash their hands by the side of the road before hopping back into the car. If you’re traveling by plane, consider using sanitizing wipes and spray alcohol to clean your seating area when you board.

Besides teaching kids the rules around the best handwashing practices, children should learn to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth as this can increase the risk of infection if their hands have come into contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. 

Unfortunately, slip ups will happen, so it’s always a good idea to help them out by using sanitizing wipes to clean frequently touched areas like light switches, doorknobs and tables, especially if stopping at a restaurant or staying at a hotel. 

Need to eat at a rest stop or fast food restaurant? Then consider bringing your own utensils and spraying the table with alcohol before touching anything. If possible, try to avoid eating out and packing some sandwiches, cereal bars, snacks, and a couple of drinks in a cooler and eat in the car or at a public park and as far away from others as possible.

Aside from touching things, children are social butterflies who tend to run up to people, especially other kids. It’s important to remind them to practice social distancing, regardless. Like adults, children also need to keep a minimum of 1 meter away from other people that aren’t part of their immediate circle.

When you and the kids are out in a public space, everyone must wear a mask properly. This means that the mask should cover the nose and mouth completely. 

4 – Pack a first aid Corona kit with all the basic necessities 

First aid kits are a must-have during any family trip, especially if you have kids. Make sure to pack items that can help you prevent or reduce the risk of contagion such as:

  • Lysol Wipes to disinfect surfaces and other items
  • A thermometer to make sure no one has developed a fever
  • Hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol. 70% is preferred
  • Band-Aids
  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Vitamin D supplements – It’s been suggested that it can be therapeutic during the pandemic.
  • Gloves
  • Extra masks
  • Water bottles
  • Ziploc Slider Storage Bags
  • Repurpose Food Scrap Bags
  • Stainless-steel Utensils

5 – Pick the Safest Accommodations to Stay In

Do some research into which hotels and Airbnbs have the best safety protocols before booking a stay. Check and see if they require staff members to wear masks and if they’re following social distancing protocols. Do they have alcohol gel dispensers at the front counter and throughout the hotel? Do they check temperatures before checking guests in? See if they offer contactless pay and choose this method of payment when possible. 

Minimize the amount of people coming and going into your room by not using maid service. Instead, clean and disinfect high contact surfaces like phones, tables, sink knobs and door knobs yourself, and follow safety protocols established by the CDC to reduce the risk of infection.

Of course, another accommodation that limits the risk of human contact is traveling in an RV. In order to make your trip safer, consider bringing a portable refrigerator or cooler to store food in and keep beverages cool. Bring plenty of snacks, water, and a first aid kit to reduce the amount of times you need to make a pit stop along the way.

And if staying with family is an option, get tested a week before arriving and once after arriving to ensure no one in the family has anything that could potentially harm those with weaker immune systems.

6 – Avoid Risks When Flying

Eat and use the restroom before boarding the plane. This will minimize the need to take off masks or interact with the flight attendants. And it’s also important to wear masks at all time, especially while waiting in line at the check-in and boarding gate lines because there’s always someone who’s wearing their masks on their chin which can increase the risk to others if they’re infected. Once you find your seats, disinfect the area before sitting down. Spray alcohol on the tray tables, seat backs, arm rests, and seat belts and wipe them down with antiseptic wipes and alcohol.

*Important resources and sources used:
-Updated Oct. 21, 2020:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html

-Airbnb safety protocols:
https://www.airbnb.com/resources/hosting-homes/a/introducing-airbnbs-covid-19-safety-practices-274

-Unicef recommendations:
https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/cleaning-and-hygiene-tips-help-keep-coronavirus-covid-19-out-your-home
https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/staying-safe-outside-during-covid-19

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