Sylvan Lake with a crowd on the beach

Safer Travels During COVID-19

Like many people, we changed our travel plans due to coronavirus pandemic. As time passed, we realized that we are in this for the long haul. So, we started thinking about safer travels during COVID-19.

Hazelrodt Picnic Area in Custer County, South Dakota

In summer 2020, we cancelled our original travel plans, and we took two road trips. While nothing is 100% safe, consider these tips for safer travels during COVID-19.

  1. Drive. While the airlines are working hard to keep passengers safe, we just weren’t comfortable yet hoping on an airplane. A road trip, on the other hand, felt like a safer option. Also, it gave us plenty of flexibility to change our plans if someone unexpectedly fell ill. For a more peaceful road trip, check out The Secret to Surviving a Road Trip.
  2. Stay in a vacation home. A single-family home not only provides you with more space but also an entrance from the outside. Platforms such as VRBO, Tripadvisor, and airbnb provide lots of options.
  3. Prepare your meals. Staying in a vacation rental with a kitchen means you can prepare your meals. We cooked our food on both trips, so we didn’t have to worry about figuring out the restaurant situation in an unknown location.
  4. Invest in a good cooler. Most of us don’t want to spend our vacations in the kitchen. So, I made double batches of meals before we left and froze them to take with us on the trip. A Yeti or similar cooler allows you to keep food frozen longer. This strategy worked like a charm!
  5. Choose outdoor activities. Social distancing is easier outdoors. Plus, it is nice to be away from crowds on vacation anyway. So, chose outdoor activities like hiking, paddle boarding, etc. to enjoy the destination but stay away from people.
  6. Arrive early. Even the great outdoors can feel crowded. Just think about Delicate Arch in Arches or Clingman’s Dome in Great Smoky Mountains. But, if you hit the trail early in the morning, you won’t see as many people or have to fight for a parking place. Also, many indoor attractions are less crowded when they first open. On our recent trip to the Black Hills, we had the Crazy Horse Memorial almost to ourselves!
  7. BYOHS. Bring your own handwashing supplies. One thing that we noticed traveling during COVID-19 is that some restrooms were closed. That meant that sometimes we had to care of business without a sink to wash up. So, we brought along our own handwashing station with water container and soap. BYOHS also worked great for washing up before picnics!
  8. Get off the beaten path. Even in the most popular national parks, there are still ways to get away from the crowds. You may have to forgo some headliner attractions and visit some lesser-known sights. However, that isn’t a bad thing. You may stumble upon something extraordinary that you would have missed otherwise.
  9. Look for hotels taking extra precautions. One of our road trips required an overnight stay. So, I was able to find a hotel with contact-less check-in and other health and safety measures. I felt comfortable in this Hilton Garden Inn.

There are still plenty of things to see and do during COVID19. Sure, you might have to get extra creative. But, it is worth all of the extra effort to feel somewhat normal. Who knows, you might even discover new adventures not too far from home!

The Crazy Horse Memorial museum was empty when it first opened.

Fortunately, we made it home COVID free!

A random beach on the North Shore of Lake Superior

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Badlands Loop Road, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

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