In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be sitting in solitude or with your family, dreaming of the first vacation you are going to take once the world re-opens. It is easy to realize what you took for granted in life when all you have is time to think.
Maybe your bucket list trip has changed from sailing around the world to simply taking a road trip to a neighboring state. If you plan to take that much-needed road trip, use this time to plan and prepare.
With nothing else to do, take care of any maintenance issues in your car, fill up the gas tank since prices are low right now, and keep your insurance cards in your car or wallet. You never know when you may need it. There is something to be said about taking a road trip to take in the local beauty, even if it is just a day trip.
But you may have bigger plans in mind than a spontaneous day trip. Here are a few things to consider while planning your first trip after the coronavirus pandemic:
When To Take a Vacation
With so much uncertainty surrounding the timing of re-opening the country, your best bet is to not plan any summer vacations this year. The safest thing to do is hold off until the fall, which then presents another problem with schools hopefully being back in session. If you have school-aged children, a vacation this year just may not be in the cards for you.
Keep in mind that this is a global pandemic, so any travel plans will have to meet U.S. guidelines as well as that of the country of your destination. Many countries currently have social distancing restrictions that are extremely strict with no known end date.
Planning a trip now may take your mind off of the current state of affairs, so look into the future a bit when setting your dates. Planning your trip destination should be done at least six months in advance of your trip.
While some states and countries are re-opening, you may want to purchase travel insurance in case your plans get derailed by the virus.
In the meantime, take some day trips in the car. Plan a picnic on the parkway or at a local park that is not closed. Do some sight-seeing drive-by style. Right now, it is about the best you can do.
Purchase Travel Insurance
Travel insurance can be costly, but in events like the COVID-19 pandemic, it is well worth the cost. By purchasing travel insurance, you are protecting yourself against unexpected cancellations, trip changes due to emergencies, or even lost luggage.
Many people do not purchase insurance, because they feel it is a waste of money. However, all things currently considered, travel insurance has never been more appropriate. When in doubt, take the safe way out.
Budget For Your Vacation
If you have lost your income due to COVID-19, traveling on a budget may never have been more important for you and your family. Alternatively, you might need a little financial boost. Since you are planning your trip for several months down the road, start your budget and planning now.
Figure out what attractions you want to see, compare airfare and hotel accommodations, check out prices for pet boarding, travel insurance, and meals and then budget realistically.
Once you determine your budget based on what you can actually afford, you may want to tweak your itinerary. You may not be able to see all of your bucket list attractions this year, but that just gives you a great reason to travel back to that destination in the future.
Be sure to check with your hotel to see if they are offering any travel discounts. When planning ahead for venues, look for package deals like two-for-one offers, sales at restaurants, and discounted pricing for activities. Look for savings wherever you can.
Check Closures Beforehand
Even if you are able to travel in the coming months, keep in mind that many businesses may remain closed. This is important to consider when planning your budget. For instance, if you are planning to visit an area hit hard with restaurant closures, you may have to find another way to eat. In that case, you will likely want to find a hotel with a kitchenette where you can prepare meals.
While many beaches in the U.S. are reopening in time for summer, many are staying closed. Be sure to check with your favorite beach to make sure you will have access to fun in the sand before you arrive.
Check with your airline to find out if there are any special considerations and regulations such as wearing a mask during the flight or only having a number of seats filled on the plane. These new kinds of regulations could impact your plans.
Travel has changed and will likely feel the impacts of this pandemic for years to come. It used to be fun to plan a trip and enjoy your new surroundings, but now the biggest concern is health and safety.
Take A Trip To Rebuild And Refocus
For your first trip after the pandemic, consider staying in the U.S. to help rebuild the economy. Take in the sights at state parks and monuments, check out nearby amusement parks, and frequent restaurants and bars.
You can still fly to your destination if you choose to travel within the country. But if you are leery of air travel or public transportation due to potential health risks, drive your car on a road trip so that you will have a little ease of mind.
If you are concerned about possible exposure to the virus, choose a quiet destination off the beaten path. Pick a city that you have not seen or visit a town that you love to visit frequently to help put some life back into it.
Tips For Traveling With Kids
Traveling with children is not for the faint of heart and if you are already stressed from the pandemic, taking your children on a vacation may be just what it takes to send you over the edge.
Traveling with kids does not have to be full of stress if you plan and prepare. Make sure you are preparing your children for the trip and building up the excitement with them. Let them know what they can expect beforehand.
If you are traveling by car, pack appropriate toys, movies, songs, and snacks to keep them occupied. Make a picnic meal to avoid eating fast food while traveling.
Since we are talking about taking a trip while staying in the U.S. to help build the economy, here are some destination ideas to consider:
- Consider Sanibel Island in Florida. This is a beautiful destination for a romantic getaway or for the entire family. The island is rich with nightlife, resorts, hotels, and beach cottages. There are nearby shelling beaches for seashell enthusiasts and is home to a wildlife refuge.
- How about heading north to Nantucket? This upscale island may be a little pricey, but it is rich in stunning beauty, cobblestone streets, and gorgeous beaches.
- For you mountain lovers, take a journey through the mountains of North Carolina and visit the over 250 waterfalls along the way. From the Pisgah National Forest to the Nantahala National Forest, there are dozens of hiking trails that lead to stunning cascades.
- If you are an angler, you may want to head to Salmon, Idaho, and partake in some of the best fishing in the United States. Located on the Salmon River, this remote town is smack dab in the center of nature’s beauty. The trout game here is strong and attracts fishermen from all over.
- How about an amusement park experience? Head to Buena Park, California to Knott’s Berry Farm. With over 4-million visitors a year, this park first opened in 1920. It boasts both roller coaster rides and water rides. This one is sure to be a trip that your family will remember for years.
- Travel to see family and friends that you haven’t been able to see in months. Spend time relaxing and learning to re-acclimate to your own city by helping to boost the businesses that survived the pandemic.
Regardless of where you choose to go, relax and decompress from the pressures that life has put on your shoulders in the wake of COVID-19. This will pass — potentially like a kidney stone — but it will pass. Until then, we are all in this together.
Robyn Flint writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org. She is a licensed realtor, published author, and entrepreneur. Robyn is the mother of three and grandmother of three.