With summer in full swing and many states easing restrictions around the novel coronavirus, US travelers are eager to get out of their homes and hit the road — safely.

For those of us wondering if it is safe to travel right now, the answer depends on many variables, namely, how you plan to do so, where you want to go, the rates of infection in your chosen destination, and your anticipated behavior once you arrive. 

To help determine the risks associated with each mode of travel, Insider Reviews reached out to experts including infectious disease and ER doctors, cleaning specialists, travel industry professionals, and representatives from major rental carshotelsAirbnb, and transportation organizations, to reveal both the risks and best practices associated with various forms of travel and lodging during an ongoing pandemic.

Of course, without a vaccine, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee any place other than your home is safe. But with a few tweaks, it is possible to lower risks associated with travel. Just remember, the pandemic is an evolving situation and it’s crucial to follow guidelines set forth by organizations such as the CDC and WHO, and practice safety measures, no matter where you go, including wearing a mask, washing your hands, and maintaining social distancing.

If you do want to take a safe vacation during COVID, whether in summer or later this year, we’ve compiled several ideas based on expert insight that suggests travel this year will stick close to home, with travelers choosing safer travel alternatives to traditional choices. Think regional road trips over far-flung flights, lodging that prioritizes hotels with stringent COVID policies, and private home rentals instead of crowded resorts. Both Airbnb and Vrbo have already seen an uptick in bookings compared to this same time period last year. 

From beaches and mountains to lakes and islands, as well as private vacation home rentals, remote hotels, and how to prepare for a road trip, we’ve compiled the following list of close to home vacation ideas during coronavirus. Travel looks different right now, but it’s still ready and willing to welcome you as safely as possible.

Here are 6 ways to take a safe vacation during COVID: 

Book a socially distant hotel stay

We already know that most major hotel chains have announced wide-reaching new cleaning policies made in combination with health experts. These policies focus on social distancing and contact-free transactions such as virtual check-in and out, digital keys, limited dining, and more.

However, the experts we interviewed still feel that the answer to the question ‘Are hotels safe during coronavirus’ is highly subjective and depends on whether an individual also takes proper protective measures like wearing a mask, distancing, and disinfecting.

best santa fe hotels four seasons rancho encantado

If you swear by staying in hotels, make sure the property has announced rigorous new cleaning measures, and look for signs they are implementing such procedures, from check-in to common spaces like the elevator or pool, and of course, in your room. Also consider more remote properties with plenty of wide-open spaces and outdoor-friendly amenities.

To help facilitate a socially distant hotel stay, consider the following destinations and hotels, which all detail new COVID policies and are well-suited for a domestic getaway. Think wide stretches of beaches, remote mountain retreats, idyllic island escapes, and other places that embrace the great outdoors.

Book a private vacation home rental to limit interactions with others

After breaking down the risks of both hotels and vacation rentals such as Vrbo or Airbnb, the doctors and experts we spoke with agreed private vacation homes are likely safer than hotels because they come with fewer person-to-person interactions.

“While there is no question hotels are working diligently to keep their hotels clean and sanitized, Airbnb has a huge advantage given that the renter is generally the only one occupying the property,” said Dr. Neil Brown, K Health’s chief diagnosis officer. “With Airbnb’s new Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, the company provides a better option than public hotel spaces … Double-check to see if the host is participating in the program,” he said.

Airbnb

As such, we detailed how to identify if an Airbnb participates in the new program, broke down the platform’s COVID cancelation policies and Airbnb Plus program, and discussed the key differences between Airbnb and other vacation home rental sites such as Vrbo and HomeAway. 

If you’re ready to hit the road, we’ve included some of the best places in the US to rent a vacation home:

Plan a socially distant road trip during COVID

Remember when planning a road trip simply meant queueing up a great playlist and stocking up on snacks? 

These days, they’re one of the safer-seeming ways to travel while limiting exposure, especially compared to planes, trains, and other mass transit. And should you feel any discomfort, or worse, become sick, know that you can hop back in the car and drive home.

road trip

Camp somewhere remote

If you want to get away and embrace nature, but feel uncomfortable checking into a hotel or private lodging, there are plenty of other outdoor options from camping to glamping that make it easy to avoid crowds. 

Book a home on wheels or pack your gear into the car and pitch a tent. These ideas all afford a charming level of rustic charm where you can control just how much, or little, you encounter the rest of the world.

Consider safer alternatives to traditional travel

Ultimately, if you plan to head out this summer, consider adapting your vacation plans in ways that provide safer alternatives that can help can reduce your risk of virus exposure while away from home.

To come up with a list of safer approaches to air travel, ground transportation, lodging, activities, and more, we culled the advice from our interviews with experts — including medical, sanitization, and travel industry professionals. 

travel during the coronavirus

Do note, however, that many public health and medical professionals (including some of those we talked to) still advise limiting nonessential travel in the pandemic, as it poses inherent risks.

Work with a travel agent

While many travelers previously booked travel independently, some are returning to travel agents. These seasoned professionals have spent years in the business and are well-equipped to help clients identify viable locations with vetted, flexible policies. They may also have better insights into new practices at specific hotels to help determine how clean and safe they will be, and whether facilities and amenities may be impacted. 

Their advice is to plan now, travel later (most of their clients are looking to travel between March and May of 2021), book refundable options, be aware of cleaning policies, try to travel domestically or close to home, opt for socially distant places, take advantage of deals, and assess your own comfort level with risk before booking.

Source: Business Insider

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