12 Tips for Traveling Post COVID Lockdown
Subtitle: Behind the Scenes of Planning Our Road Trip to Joshua Tree National Park
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A few years ago, we took a trip to Palm Springs and passed by Joshua Tree National Park on the way to Palm Springs. On the way out of Palm Springs, we passed it again and we noted we should visit the park in the future (Aaron loves national and state parks so it’s always a draw for us.)
Since we live in Tucson, driving to the Palm Springs area takes only about 5-6 hours. I’m sure many of us feel a little uneasy traveling by plane, and we, among many others, want to do a roadtrip first and ease our way into further destinations over time. I’m still trying to coax Aaron into going to Greece late summer, early fall, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Since we planned our first trip post COVID (and by “post COVID” I really mean post stay at home order) there were a lot of new elements we had to consider and I figured it would be super helpful to share this insight with all of you.
Book your trip now. Since lots of people aren’t traveling or booking yet, so prices are still relatively low. It’s best to take advantage of those prices now, and in that same breath you need to read the stay at home orders (if it’s still in place to some degree) and also understand what that city and state is dealing with now and also what they may be dealing with when your trip comes.
Check cancellation policies. When we were looking at hotels, we noticed they are usually really great with cancellations during this uncertain period. However a lot of vacation rentals (think VBRO) or Airbnbs are not in the same place. When it comes to Joshua Tree Park, Airbnb was the best option because there are a lot of super cute homes 10 minutes from the west entrance of Joshua Tree, so depending on where you’re going, a hotel, vacation rental, or Airbnb may be the best option. We were very meticulous and wanted to be sure to book something with flexible cancelation privacy just in case something comes up. Not to mention COVID isn’t going anywhere (cases are up substantially in Arizona) so in the event we get it in a few weeks, I want the flexibility to cancel the trip. We also wanted to find something where we could take some photos and something remote near the park.
Insider tip: A lot of hotels are going to “sell out” quickly, and this is because they’re not able to book 100%. Even if it says it is sold out, it might only be 50%, and for the foreseeable future, there will be a capacity limit.
Call resorts regarding amenities and services. Some resorts have a lot of amenities (spa, golf, dining, etc) and in a normal world you can usually use the utilities at other resorts with a reservation. With COVID, a lot of resorts are keeping their amenities locked down to only their own guests so they can control the flow of people.
Bring snacks. Whether it’s a long trip, or a road trip, always plan to have snacks. With a lot of hours affected, restaurants may be closed (limited hours) and you don’t want to put yourself in a pinch.
Avoid all public water foundations. To be honest, even before COVID, public water fountains were gross. I always hesitated but in my past corporate job, everyone said to save $20-$30 by refilling a reusable water bottle so I did it. Not anymore. Probably never again.
Make sure to read all the airport & airline guidelines. If you’re flying from Tucson to Boston (as an example) you need to check the airport rules of your connection + Tucson + Boston.
Get a mask that is comfortable. If you need to wear a mask during an entire 5 hour flight, make sure the mask you have is something breathable and not going to be super uncomfortable and tight. One of my original masks made my ears hurt so bad, so I could not get on a plane for 5 hours with that mask.
Have a sanitation plan. Whether you’re flying, renting a car, or staying in an Airbnb, you want to make sure to wipe down the surfaces
Our kit includes:
2 wash clothes
1 travel size disinfectant spray
1 pack of disinfecting wipes
Expect new normals. In a restaurant, bartenders and waiters are going to be wearing masks for the foreseeable future. You as a guest in a restaurant may not need to have a mask on, but keep in mind that everyone else will.
Be respectful and conscientious. If you’re planning to stay in a restaurant for hours, make sure to order lots and tip generously. Otherwise, keep the perspective that
Bring a pair of gloves just in case. The CDC recommends using gloves for a few reasons - one to clean things coming inside. If you or your travel partner gets sick, you want to have gloves on to protect yourself.
Try to minimize the amount of cash you use. Cash is very dirty, and has been touched by a lot of people so you want to minimize that piece. Handling cash has always been a dirty piece of transactions, and while using a credit card still means you have to put your card in the slot, it’s still less dirty than exchanging cash amongst hands (which we know is one major way COVID spreads.)