Playing It Safe: Planning Family Travel in the Times of Covid


a woman on an empty plane sitting by the windowThe term “family fun” during Covid definitely feels like an oxymoron and, honestly, can be overwhelming considering all the differing opinions, precautions, and inherent risks. Eager to use those travel vouchers or capitalize on low rates for overnight stays? While lengthy travel may not be in the cards for your family, there are plenty of ways to plan safely amidst these times.


Before we get into this, please know that this is not an advertisement to travel or a blatant disregard for the seriousness of the pandemic. Regardless of where you are with comfort level or what this or any articles says, please make sure you’re referring to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for the latest updates related to COVID-19. The safest travel during these times is not traveling at all, but if you must, here’s some guidance that helped us feel more comfortable in our decision-making.


Do Your Research


Beach, mountains, open fields, or big skies? Like the beginnings of any travel plans, you need to make the important decision of location, but with an asterisk. While you’re researching potential locations, make a list of state requirements. For example, does the state or city/regional area approve of inter-state travel? Do they have any mandates surrounding quarantining whether you are arriving there or when you are returning home? Are you required to provide proof of test or, even more recently, vaccination? What about masks?


All of these questions can be daunting to think about but will help you navigate the benefits of traveling to your chosen destination as well as weighing the pros against the accommodations your family is willing to make. These factors may help you narrow down your choices.


a bottle of hand sanitizer next to a disposable mask on a black background


Getting There


Once you’ve decided where your family will be staying, the next decision is plotting out how you will get there. Driving offers the lowest risk. Make intentional “pit stops,” trying to reduce the number of times you need to get out of the car and interact with others. Even better, travel with your own potty and pre-made snacks so that you can make private stops at public rest areas, limiting exposure for you and your kiddos. Couple that with areas that have ubiquitous food options so you can power up for long stretches.


If you must travel by air, we’ve had luck scheduling early morning non-stop flights. Freshly sanitized planes and being the first travelers of the day give more comfort to having to fly to your destination. Maintain proper social distance and, if necessary (and allowed), see if you can still utilize the middle seat as a spacer between you and others around you. We also practiced using our masks at home to prep our kindergartner and toddler for air travel, where masks are often required for all travelers two and up. Plan for minimal bathroom breaks by putting your toddler in an overnight diaper or pull up and limit water until you’ve deplaned.


Where To Stay & What to Do 


Deciding whether to stay at a hotel or rental can both have their benefits. While many hotels are running at very low capacity, having a private rental ensures that you’re the only family coming in and out of the space. Either way, I recommend bringing or purchasing a series of products to make your own cleaning or sanitation kit to give the room or rental a quick spray down prior to “moving in.” I usually bring bleach wipes, disinfectant spray, gloves, and convenient toilet liners (if that’s an issue for you). 



In addition, we will make sure we’ve identified a big box store prior to travel where we can stock up on groceries or at least snacks and breakfast foods. Another bonus is if your hotel does curbside pick up or delivery directly to your room to prevent exposure from guest to guest. For rentals, the greatest advantage is utilizing your kitchen feature to limit the number of restaurant runs you need. This is where portable high chairs and other equipment also come in handy for in-room or rental meals.



While at your destination, of course, you want to have fun. That is the main purpose of your trip. A quick review of local attractions and their changes in precautions will give you a sense of expectations. How many people do they allow in the space at a given time? Do they sell out every day now that they reduced capacity? Do we need a reservation or to make an appointment? If so, can that be done in-person or only online?


turquoise water lapping on the shoreline as the sun rises in the distance


All of this prior planning will allow your family to have fun yet prepare you for what to expect. The very best piece of advice is to stick with as many outdoor options (weather permitting) as you can. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that those March 2020 walks came in handy. So jump on a bike, walk the beach, or up your hiking skills for a new adventure and recharge.


What about your family? Have you traveled during these times? If so, what are your tips for safe travel?