What's It REALLY Like Traveling in the Time of COVID?

Like many of you, I've had my fair share of plans get canceled because of COVID. At the beginning of the year, our oldest son relocated to Boise, ID after graduating from college in December. He invited his father and me to visit and see his new home, and if you are a parent of a young adult child, you jump on any chance you can to visit your child when they request your presence. Airplane tickets were purchased back in January before COVID was even a thought. Though once COVID swept the nation, we had reservations about continuing our plans. As states started to reopen, {Idaho being one of them}, we decided to continue on with our plans to travel. I know that people will have opinions on every side about how they feel about travel in the time of COVID, but I wanted to share our experience of what it's really like and then you can make the most informed decision for you and your family if you want to consider continuing or canceling your summer travel plans. 

So what is it really like to travel in the time of COVID? I'm sharing our experience.

what is it like to travel during coronavirus

 What is it Really Like to Travel in the Time of COVID?

What's It REALLY Like Traveling in the Time of COVID?
If you've been staying at home, getting groceries delivered, and only venturing out on the occasional masked walk, you might think that everyone is doing the same. They are not.
In the past few weeks, the roads have started to gradually get busier and the freeways are starting to take on a more "normal" rush hour traffic pattern. Mask restrictions vary by state and by store location. With more people complying to wear masks, I'm noticing more people relaxing social distancing when they are in public. 
People seem to be itching to get out of their four walls and that means summer travel plans, though modified, will still be happening. 
So what will travel during the time of COVID look like? I've got a few thoughts from our recent trip.
What's It REALLY Like Traveling in the Time of COVID?

Traveling at the Airport During COVID

traveling in the time of a global pandemic
Several years ago, I traveled to Zambia during the Ebola outbreak. Upon arrival at the airport, I had my temperature taken by a man in a white lab coat before I was able to walk inside the terminal. I half expected a temperature check or scan at the airport, but wasn't met with either.
Face masks were required at our local airport but only strongly suggested at the airport we flew into. We were dropped off curbside with only carry on luggage, so we headed straight to TSA for security screening. We had our boarding pass on our phones and placed them upside down on the scanner. I handed the gloved TSA agent my driver's license and he asked me to remove my mask so he could see my face. 
what is the airport like during a global pandemic
We were traveling midday and there was no one in line through security. There were lines on the floor so we could social distance from the passenger in front of us through security {it always bottlenecks}, and we wore masks through the screening machine. 
As more safety measures are put in place {perhaps temperature screenings?} and travel starts to fully resume, I'd expect you might need more time through security, however, we were first in line and surprised at how dead it felt in the airport.

As travel is changing, this may also be a good reason to consider getting TSA precheck as travel starts to increase. 

air travel in the time of a global pandemic
Once inside the terminal, only stores that sold food were open. The magazine shop was open because it has snacks available, but other trinket shops and sit down restaurants were all closed. 
Food was available for contactless pick up if you ordered from their online menus. The loudspeaker announcements encouraged you to pick up food and drinks for travel, especially on flights shorter than 300 miles, because there would be no food and beverage service. All other flights would have limited food and beverage service.
And by limited, I mean, a small water bottle and a mini snack pack.
I was surprised that once we got to our gate, at how busy it was. There were elderly people in wheelchairs and newborns in car seats. I noticed business travelers and families. I know that the number of flights has been cut drastically, so I can only guess that the number of people in one space was because other terminals had been closed to maximize their space. Unfortunately, this did make it hard to find a seat in the gate that was socially distanced from others, not impossible, just more difficult.
Most airlines are now asking that you wear a face mask for the entirety of your flight. They are also making sure that you are socially distanced on the airplane. If you are traveling with your family, you will sit with your family. If you are traveling alone, you will likely sit alone.
social distancing on airplanes

Tips for Traveling at the Airport During COVID

  • Find a breathable face mask or make your own
  • Bring your own hand sanitizer and wash your hands often
  • Bring sanitizing wipes and wipe any surface you might touch
  • Don't forget to sanitize and wipe your phone often, especially if you are using it for your boarding pass.
  • Check the airport website for any announcements and the most up to date information on their current policy for travel
  • Bring your own snacks and water bottles since food is limited
air travel summer travel

Staying at a Hotel During COVID

If you are making summer plans for travel, I'd suggest booking a single-family home through HomeAway or TurnKey. However, sometimes a hotel is the only option, and from what we experienced, they were doing their best to keep guests safe.

What's It REALLY Like Traveling in the Time of COVID?

Some of the measures in place at the hotel were as follows:

  • masks are worn by employees at check-in counter
  • carry out options only for the continental breakfast
  • limits on people in public spaces {only two people in the elevator unless you were a family}
  • cleaning spray and wipes available at the front desk to use at your leisure
  • limited housekeeping
What's It REALLY Like Traveling in the Time of COVID?

Is it Safe to Travel Again?

This isn't something I think any of us will have a clear answer anytime soon. If you spend any amount of time on social media, you'll hear conflicting opinions on just about everything from mask-wearing to how essential your trip to the grocery store is, you will have to make the decision on your own based on your health and comfort level.

What's It REALLY Like Traveling in the Time of COVID?

Most international travel is off the table for the remainder of the year at least, but domestically, it feels like an option. State-mandated travel restrictions vary greatly and there are some states that are still requiring travelers into their state to self-quarantine for two weeks. 

Research the area before you travel. Find out what is open in their state and what travel restrictions are in place if you are traveling there. 

Do your best to follow social distancing practices when you can and plan on wearing a mask in public often.

And if at all possible, book a private home to limit your exposure.

Read more: The Beginners Guide to Booking a HomeAway Rental

Things You Should Consider Before you Travel

Do NOT travel if you are sick! Don't do it. If you feel like you have a fever, or might have a fever, or maybe one day two weeks from now, you might get a fever, don't travel. Stay home. Just stay home.

Consider the activities you have planned and if you can participate in them while still maintaining social distancing.

Many museums, landmarks, and public attractions are closed, so keep that in mind as you plan your trip. 
I can't make the decision to travel for you, I just wanted to share our experience. Please make the best decision for you and your family keeping these guidelines in mind. 

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