14 Sep Itching to Get Away? Travel in the Time of COVID
We’re well into our sixth month of COVID restrictions. We’ve mismanaged our response to the pandemic, so we can’t travel to countries in the European Union. But it’s fall, the best time of year to travel, and many of us are itching to get away. Surprisingly, there are quite a few countries that would be delighted to take our tourist dollars, including the Maldives, Jamaica, Mexico, the Caribbean, Serbia, Croatia, Turkey, Ecuador and Brazil. Dependencies may include a temperature check, COVID test and the ability to show a place of residence during our stay.
Travel closer to home: What does a COVID vacation look like?
I traveled to Washington state’s Whidbey Island a month or so ago. I flew into Seattle’s SeaTac airport, rented a car and drove up to the island—about a two-hour trip.
Some observations: Forget about social distancing on the airplane
There were no COVID concessions on my flight–it was packed. It may be that we can expect that—the airline industry has been hit hard by COVID. With fewer flights to popular destinations, I suspect these flights will be full. Be comforted by the fact that air is circulated and filtered on airplanes, so most viruses don’t spread easily on flights. Reduce the risk by frequently washing your hands, using hand sanitizer, wiping down your tray table, wearing a mask, opening up the vent above you and freezing to death for the duration of the flight.
Be aware that your flight may be canceled and cost more. A colleague flew from Oakland to eastern Washington, and his expensive connecting flights were canceled in both directions. This translates to a lot of extra time hanging out in airports—and increasing your risk of exposure. He’s in the high-risk group with health issues, so this trip was terrifying for him.
To be aware of:
- If you need to rent a car. In some areas this could pose a problem because people are renting cars and taking road trips instead of flying.
- For a road trip: Pack a cooler with water and food. Fewer stops are safer.
- While we’re used to a high level of COVID awareness in the Bay Area, this is not the case in many parts of the country. Iowa and South Dakota have no mask requirement. In 17 states, there is some mask requirement, which means that the level of COVID safety will vary by city and county.
Everyone knows the drill by now
For my little adventure, everyone, everywhere, was masked and social distancing—at the car rental counter, cafes and shops. The TSA team wear masks, face shields and gloves. As I drove up to Whidbey, I noticed that the rest areas were closed. For those traveling with kids on longer road trips, this could pose a problem. Kids require frequent snack and bio breaks.
If you’re planning a road trip: Some tips from the experts
Do some research and be flexible. Even if you’re doing a business trip that will require renting a car at the airport, there’s a very good chance you’ll encounter closures and frustration.
- Research travel advisories.
- Don’t leave home without hand sanitizers and disinfecting wet wipes, disposable gloves, sealable disposable plastic bags and tissues. You’re allowed to carry a 12-oz bottle of hand sanitizer on the plane with you.
- Expect to be wearing a mask in all indoor public places, so bring a stash.
- Stop and buy water and snacks—it will limit the number of times you need to stop for refreshments.
- Drivers may want to wear disposable gloves while pumping gas. Pay with a credit card rather than cash, eliminating a face/face interaction.
Bathroom access these days can be challenging
Limit fluids. Many public restrooms are closed. Starbucks or other fast-food establishments may prevent noncustomers or even customers from using their bathrooms.
Restaurants in some states have resumed dine-in service, but there will be limitations on the number of people permitted in a given space. Eating in outside patios or decks is safer. Consider purchasing your own food and eating outdoors. This will all become more difficult as the weather gets cooler.
If staying in a hotel, call ahead to confirm your reservation.
- Consider renting a home rather than staying in a hotel—you’ll have a kitchen to cook your own meals.
- Guidelines from the American Hotel & Lodging Association include stringent cleaning procedures for everything from elevator buttons to exercise equipment.
- Recommended guidelines include wiping down high-touch areas–doorknobs, TV remote control, etc.
- For stays of more than one night, forgo housekeeping services so that you can control sanitization and limit the number of people who come in and out of your room.
Trying not to touch handles, doorknobs, elevator buttons, escalator railings, etc. is challenging. Keep hand sanitizer in your bag and use frequently.
Before leaving on your trip: Create or update your Living Trust
COVID has created an urgency on many levels, including creating a Living Trust
As the COVID crisis drags on, more clients are scheduling appointments to create or update their Living Trusts. Our Trust package includes a Power of Attorney and an Advance Healthcare Directive. It also includes a Pour Over Will, and for those families with children under 18, this means that they can name a Guardian rather than having the court appoint one for them.
Creating a Trust helps provide peace of mind during these uncertain times. Best of all, we guide you through it and we prepare the legal documents. At California Document Preparers, for most of our services, we charge one flat fee. We’re helpful, compassionate and affordable.
We service the entire East Bay and North Bay areas
Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.