Blazing Trails This Summer with the Family
How to Be Prepared and Safe on the Family Vacation
by Julie Lavender
The word summer brings to mind visions of memory-making vacations. This summer especially holds the promise of returned trips and travels, after limited adventures last summer.
Though many travel restrictions are lifted for the summer, potential vacationers and visitors will benefit greatly from advanced, organized preparations and adhering to great caution.
Start planning now to make this summer’s travels the best possible family adventure ever!
Before making any plans, check an updated status on the Center for Disease Control’s website, www.cdc.gov. A color-coded, global map on the site shows travel recommendations by destination, with colors reflecting risk assessment levels for COVID-19.
In general, medical professionals and the CDC are strongly urging domestic travel only for families, but precautions for out-of-the-country travel are listed, also.
As of the April 2, 2021 posting, the CDC lists these updates and recommendations:
- Fully vaccinated people (those who’ve had their second of two doses or single dose required vaccinations, following a two-week waiting period) can resume domestic travel and do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
- Fully vaccinated people do not need to get tested before leaving the United States (unless required by the destination) or self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.
Fully vaccinated people can:
- Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
- Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
- Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.
- Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
- Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.
For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:
- Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing
- Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease
- Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households
- Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings
- Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Follow guidance issued by individual employers
- Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations
With that information in mind, research areas of interest for summer plans first. You’ll most likely want to plan an excursion that will entail lots of outdoor activities to make social distancing easier. Your safest bet may include plans for adventure at beaches, lakes, mountains, campgrounds, and national parks. Because children are currently too young for vaccinations, those destinations enable safe distancing from crowds and affords opportunity for great adventure, too.
Keep in mind that journeying to and from the intended destination brings the greatest risk of exposure to possible illness and/or improper safety protocols. Considering those factors, are you willing to fly to your destination? Are you willing to drive a long-distance with lots of bathroom and food stops?
Once you’ve narrowed down the options, begin with an online search to get additional info. But, be sure to make follow-up phone calls, too. Some websites are not completely updated with safety measures or precautions, and you’ll want to speak personally with someone who can answer all of your questions.
For lodging info, make calls to ask questions about cleaning procedures within hotel rooms or cabins or campsite bathrooms, for example. Some hotels have opted to reopen swimming pools, and some have not. Those that have may still require masks and some have maximum capacity allowances. You’ll need to know all these answers, so that you won’t have disappointed kids who thought they’d be swimming every night at the hotel accommodations, if that turns out not to be a viable component of your stay.
Also check with the local Chamber of Commerce for the area you intend to visit to get information on closures. You might pick an area with an amusement park, only to find out they’ve not fully reopened, have limited capacity, or don’t follow the distancing procedures you’d feel comfortable adhering to.
Check on restaurant restrictions in the area too for openings, altered closing times, and dining-in options.
Once you’ve decided on your destination of choice and made all the reservations, begin packing accordingly for the trip. Experts actually recommend packing for an additional fourteen days, just in case one of the family members contracts the COVID virus and quarantine measures are necessary. Experts also advise taking out travel insurance, when possible, in case someone becomes sick before the vacation, requiring the cancelation of the trip completely.
Also, in case illness arises on the trip, have back-up plans for planned activities. For example, you may plan to attend a museum that you’ve researched for opening schedules, but on that day, someone might feel a little puny. Perhaps not under the weather enough to stay cooped up in the hotel, but unfit to be around others in close proximity. A back up plan would include a quiet picnic on a blanket near the lake to watch the ducks and geese. In other words, plan ahead and include back-up plans, but be flexible, too.
Regardless of the endpoint of your travels and the means by which you’ll get there, you’ll need to pack plenty of hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to feel comfortable using the available facilities along the way. Take plenty of masks too for the journey. And, plan enough snacks and picnic meals to allow limited stops to quiet rumbling tummies.
Here’s a suggested packing list, though the list is certainly not exhaustive and may need much personalizing for individual needs of your family. Include these items: masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, first aid kit, thermometer, disposable gloves, vaccine card if applicable, pens, contactless credit card, portable phone charger, selfie stick for photo ops instead of handing a cell phone to a stranger, snacks and other food, refillable water bottles for each person, and medications for an additional fourteen days, just in case.
Once you arrive, continue to practice reasonable social distancing and safety protocols. Wear masks, wash hands frequently, wipe down areas of concern, and be mindful of overcrowded locations.
Most importantly, HAVE FUN and make incredible family memories. Go prepared for as many contingencies as you can think of, but also focus on a time of spiritual renewal with God amidst a backdrop of His beautiful creations. Give thanks for the gift of family and create an abundance of memories with the ones you love.
Julie Lavender, author of 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories (Revell), loves making memories with her family on trips and travels. As the wife of a former Navy Entomologist, Julie enjoyed seeing more of God’s beautiful world with her husband David and their four kids during his twenty-year military career.
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