The pandemic probably changed your plans for summer vacation.
If you’re like us, the plan was to fly to your destination and stay in hotels and Airbnb’s where you would make a home-base to enjoy sites and culture and food.
Now flying is dangerous, restaurants are a no-go, and the Hotels and Airbnb’s might still be a little sketchy unless you trust housekeeping to clean them to hospital standards.
So the usual plan is out.
The big question for this year: Is there a safe way to vaca…tion?
Happily you can have a vacation unless you think vacation has to involve lots of contact with strange people and sit-down restaurants.
The way that covid is transmitted is through the air. It is a respiratory virus which means that it has to get in your lungs for you to get infected.
The best way to avoid breathing it in is to stay away from people who are breathing it out. That’s what the whole social distance thing is all about.
To be clear: HAND WASHING IS VERY IMPORTANT because an unwashed touching to an infected surface and then touched to your face can transfer covid to where it will be inhaled and infect you. It is also tremendously important to disinfect surfaces that you might be touching.
And while it is true that the main face masks is to reduce the range of the wearer’s coughs, sneezes and breath, they also do filter some of what you breath in so it is good to wear a face mask when ever you might be getting within 10 feet of a person outside of your group.
If you’re a responsible person, you’ve been doing all this at home since Now, just take that show on the road.
It might not be what you’re used to, but isn’t that kind of the point of a vacation.
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Remember the road trip?
Until I was 25 this was my preferred way to vacate – all I needed was a road, a car, a little money and someone fun to go with.
A road trip is a great option during the summer of covid, but it is going to require lots more planning and preparation.
Who is going on this vacation – you are going to want a Covid free little cohort to travel with.
Where are you going – it is going to be important to plan your route – including the places you’re going to stop to minimize contact with other people and places that are risky.
What are you going to take – this summer it will be a bad idea to go in and buy slim-jims whenever you stop for gas. A crowded convenience store/gas station with un-masked people you don’t know that might have been in there hours before – well it’s not worth the risk for the bag of chips.
And of course the bathroom – how are you going to accomplish this?
Number one that’s easy especially if you’re a guy, but number two that could require facilities, and roadside facilities in rest areas and gas stations don’t have the best reputation for cleanliness. See section on Bathrooms & Public Restrooms below.
Buying Gas – pay with a card – so you don’t have to go in or have an unnecessary face to face.
Hotels, VRBO and Airbnb
If your road trip extends longer than one day you’re going to have to sleep somewhere.
As I write this some hotels, VRBO and Airbnb’s that are reopening.
Of course you could sleep in the car but that creates some real comfort issues.
There is camping which I explain below, the other option is hotels, VRBO and Airbnb, and with some planning you can stay safely at these establishments.
If your going to plan to stay at one of these establishments here are some considerations:
Where is it located: You want to stay somewhere with a low concentration of covid infection, a small town in Montana is obviously safer than LA.
But when your planning a road trip in southern California you probably want to know that Orange County is much more dangerous than San Diego County, and they are only a few miles apart.
What is the check-in process: If you have to go to the front desk and give them your credit card or can it all be done online. We have stayed at Air B&B that we never saw anyone.
How Was it Cleaned: Before you make the reservation, ask how it is to be cleaned and what extra precautions are taken because of covid. This is the part where you are going to have trust the housekeeper, but you should ask because if they know you’re concerned that is a good reminder for them.
Bring Your Own Cleaning Supplies: Some disinfecting wipes, alcohol, and paper towels to clean and disinfect doorknobs surfaces.
If you are an experienced camper and you just haven’t been in a few years this might be the time to dust off the old gear and get out there again.
Remember this summer’s safe vacations are going to be about staying away from infected people and for planning purposes you should assume that everyone is infected.
But camping is great getting away from people – the great outdoors roughing it like the frontiersman, but with much fancier gear.
But just like the road trip you are going to have to plan everything in advance – this summer you don’t have the option of running into the nearest little town and grab the things you forgot.
All the food, snacks, water, beverages – adult and otherwise, and don’t forget sunscreen, bug-spray, and enough fuel for your stove, and firewood.
And for this summer – especially this summer – hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and it might be a good idea to bring your own TP.
For me the packing is part of the fun – We make separate coolers for drinks and food, we can easily pack enough for four or five days.
What to eat – we make different kinds of burritos and freeze them in aluminum foil. Then when it’s eating time you can heat them on the fire or BBQ or even on a gas stove.
Coffee – Another important consideration for caffeine/coffee addicts is how to pack it or make it or whatever you gotta do.
I have a couple big thermos bottles that will usually last me the first two days, and then I have those stainless steel water bottles that I fill for the days after that.
You can also buy instant coffee or pre-made coffee in bottles – expensive but good for car camping.
You can get your caffeine from other sources – Brenna likes energy drinks, there’s caffeinated soda, and I have even heard of an ancient Chinese secret beverage called tea.
Water – you need it to live, so whether it’s bottled water or some big tank thingy that you fill at your house before you go.
Think of it this way, you have been practicing for this.
Getting everything you need for a week on one trip to the store so you can stay home and be socially distant, now you’re just doing the same thing but for a camping trip.
All the “experts are saying that the great outdoors is the safest place if you have to leave home. So whether it’s day hikes or backpacking or car camping.
If you have a secret camping spot that only you know, and you can be there undisturbed by other campers that is awesome.
If you are going to a park with established campgrounds the main thing is to keep your distance and stay clean.
Be sure to see the bathroom section below.
This may be the least risky 2020 vacation option.
Because you basically take your people – who you’re confident are corona free, and get in a rolling self contained house, that you can keep clean just like your house that’s not on wheels.
You can be safe at home but on the road.
You stock your RV with enough so you only have to stop for gas.
It has a bathroom and a shower inside, and the rest of your time will be outside where you will maintain your distance.
If you own an RV, this is a great time for you, deep clean it to stock it up and hit the road. You already know how to do everything you need to do.
If you don’t own an RV this is still an option. Go to RVshare.com and you can rent everything from a pop-up trailer to one of those giant bus looking things.
One caution, if you don’t have any RV experience, it is a good idea to do some research. These rolling houses have plumbing, hot water, grey water heaters and air conditioners that you should know how to use before you hit the road.
Bathrooms & Public Restrooms
Extended trips away from your house a big risk factor is going to bathroom facilities.
Campgrounds and Rest Areas – as long as they are uncrowded – are going to be pretty safe if you pay attention.
I know that out-houses and those breezy rest stops are kind of gross sometimes, but for covid they are not too bad because they are so well ventilated. So the air is exchanged quickly and any covid is dispersed.
Wear your mask. Take a disinfectant wipe and wipe off anything that you will touch, and wash or use hand sanitizer as soon as you’re done.
One Hole Convenience Bathrooms – not a good idea you would be better finding a bush on the side of the road.
If you absolutely have no other option: wear your mask, turn the fan on and wait a minute before you go in to clear the air, wipe down everything just like in the out house. get out as quickly as you can and use hand sanitizer.
Large Public Restrooms – Like at Costco or Sams Club – Large well ventilated 8 to 12 toilets.
These are relatively safe because the air is exchanged quickly. You might want to wipe the seat before you sit – if that is what you’re doing. But as long as it is not crowded, wear your mask, do your business wash your hands and get out.
In the Woods – You should be far enough away from people that you don’t really have to worry too much about covid.
The only problem you might encounter is how to sit. I have always had trouble with the squat.
Hang on to a branch or you can make a toilet out of a 5 gallon bucket, or buy one.
Last but not least, the easiest and probably safest summer vacation option is the Stay-cation
For real, you know your house is clean so it is just a question of doing what you want while vacating.
The trick here is to turn off the stuff that’s not vacation. No work, turn off the computer, don’t do work, don’t think about work.
With the people you’re with – the ones with whom you would’ve gone elsewhere with – do the things that you would do on vacation, but don’t leave the house.
Try some new food.
Learn a new hobby – like cooking.
Do that vacation shopping virtually.
Have you seen all the quirky cool stuff on Etsy.com – you could get your souvenirs there.
The summer movies are all on streaming – make the pop-corn and hot dogs.
Read an actual book – you can still get them from Amazon – this is one of my favorite things to do on vacation no matter where I go – find some page-turner mystery novel and just sit and read.
Safety first is 2020’s summer vacation theme.
Disneyland, Europe or anywhere that you have to fly are out. And he food tourism – dining in – that I love is probably not happening ’til next year either.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t relax and have some vacation fun.
2020 is going to be a summer vacation that sticks in all our memories, so make it a good one, you still have options.