By Marie Dodds,
Traveling sure looks different this fall and winter because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to advise that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
For those who make the personal decision to travel, AAA has tips and advice to help you be a responsible traveler. Visit www.AAA.com/covid for the latest info.
A recent AAA survey finds that the great American road trip is the most popular way to travel. The survey finds that three out of 10 Americans are planning a vacation before the end of 2020, and 80 percent of those will go by car.
“Traveling during the coronavirus pandemic requires you to do your homework before heading out,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “Book your lodging and activities in advance, and plan your stops for food, gasoline and EV charging. Many national parks and attractions limit capacity so it’s best to make arrangements for these in advance.”
What to know before you go:
- Heed all official warnings and remain vigilant while traveling. Refer to the latest updates from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Department of State to help decrease the spread of COVID-19. Check the CDC’s Covid-19 data tracker, municipal and state health departments and local news for updates on coronavirus cases and continue to do so while on the road.
- Visit AAA.com/Covidmap for travel restrictions for each destination you plan to visit. AAA has developed an interactive TripTik map with COVID-19 travel restrictions. Just click on the destination you’d like to visit for the latest information.
- Book your lodging, camping and rental car in advance. Many providers are limiting the number of guests and/or allowing more time between guests, so availabilities are reduced.
- Prior to any stay, ask what precautions hotels, campgrounds and other lodging are taking to protect guests. Ask about social distancing protocols like capacity reductions in common spaces, if staff are required to wear masks at all times, and about changes to the check-in process. Many properties have reduced face-to-face interactions with guests.
- Check on the cleaning standards. Many hotels, campgrounds, parks and rental car companies offer enhanced cleaning policies. For extra confidence, look for Diamond hotels that display a AAA Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping badge.
- When you check into your room, wipe down commonly touched surfaces with disinfectant. Pay special attention to light switches, door knobs, faucets, refrigerator handles, and remote controls.
- Check with any museums, parks, attractions, etc. you want to visit and consider purchasing tickets in advance. Many will have reduced operating hours and limit the number of visitors at a time. Many require face masks.
- Bring snacks, beverages and non-perishable foods with you. Grocery stores and restaurants may have limited hours. Check to see if restaurants are open, and if they offer dine-in service, take-out and/or delivery. Pack picnic supplies and look for scenic stops where you can enjoy the outdoors while social distancing.
- Pack hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting products such as face masks, hand sanitizer, soap, wipes, sprays, paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, thermometer, gloves, etc. as these items may be difficult to purchase while you’re on the road.
- Pay with a credit card instead of cash and use a wipe or sanitizing spray to disinfect your credit card before putting it away.
- Take all necessary travel documentation, including health insurance cards.
- Consider working with a travel professional to help plan your trip. They can help you sort through all of the pandemic-related restrictions, help you get the biggest bang for your vacation dollars, and act as an advocate if plans change unexpectedly. Visit AAA.com/Travel to get started.
- Get your car road-trip ready. Breakdowns are always a hassle, and you don’t want to be stranded during the coronavirus pandemic. Find a trusted mechanic nearby at AAA.com/repair. Find advice on winter driving at AAA.com/winterprep.