Updated: Sep 4
Not the year we hoped for; yet, here we are. Schools, stores, work, travel - everything is new. And when it comes to changes in travel, no one knows more about these pains than those of us in the industry. Weddings and honeymoons have been cancelled, rescheduled, and reworked; family vacations called off; spring break trips 86’d; anniversary, birthday trips… cancelled. National park closures, tour companies gone dark, restaurant closings. beaches shut down…. Shew!
A now, with holiday travel around the corner, the looming question is: "Should we be traveling? Is it possible to travel safely? Will my destination of choice be “open?”
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that everyone has a different tolerance for traveling right now and wherever you are at is ok. There are a lot of questions and I’m going to try and give you some answers.
Safe and Boring are NOT the Same.
You don’t have to feel pressured to travel; but, you still have plenty of options for getting a change of scenery SAFELY if you're itching to go. It’s easy to think that safe means boring and you may ask yourself, "why travel if it’s going to be a waste?” Well, it doesn’t have to be lame.
Do you feel like you can’t possibly come up with something fun to do under current mandates around the country? Deep breath, there is a TON to do—it might take some outside the box thinking or you can get the help of a creative travel planner like, well… like US!
Let's take a look at different options and lay out the pros and cons.
MAJOR HOTEL BRANDS
Even with the growth in vacation rental platforms, most people book their trip lodging at a major hotel brand.
All of these brands have implemented massive cleaning and sanitation requirements- major surfaces, like the check-in desk, front doors, and elevator buttons are being sanitized multiple times a day, maybe even multiple times an hour. They have the crews and access to sanitizing products to get the job done really well! They've also put up Plexi partitions at check-in like most stores. As for those included continental breakfasts, some have moved to pre-bagged breakfasts that you grab and take to go!
With all the sanitizing and precautions, you are still going to come into contact with more people from all over the country/world. And, elevators? Well, being in a small space like that probably isn't ideal if you are trying to avoid "the COVID."
If you are trying to book with points or earn points for status, you can still safely stay at a major hotel. Consider requesting a ground floor room so you can avoid the elevator!
VACATION RENTAL (i.e. AirBNB)
Sites like AirBNB have grown exponentially in popularity and offer unique experiences as well as some economical choices for travelers. We are huge fans of the variety of stay types that can be found on these kinds of sites. Let's look at the pros/cons of vacation rentals in our current world:
If you're wanting to avoid lots of crowds, people, foot traffic... this is for you! Sure, you can find condos in high rise complexes and even hotels through these sites; but, you can also find whole houses, beach cottages, cabins, the works. The benefit of the latter property types is you are the only one there during your stay. Your germs are the only ones coming in and going out! It's like you can social distance with a change of scenery- win!
I always love the "Entire House" filter when searching for properties and have found amazing places, like the house pictured above. We stayed in this amazing house, just a couple blocks from the beach in Ocean Springs, MS at the beginning of the summer and it was perfect!
The booking platforms are requiring their properties to follow strict sanitizing guidelines and I've found the property owners are taking this seriously. Once they've sanitized, no one is going in or out until you get there!
Let's be honest, it would be easy for a "bad egg" host to not sanitize properly - although that hasn't been my experience either pre- or post -COVID. You aren't going to have the amenities of breakfast, 24/7 coffee, or more shampoo on demand; but, from a COVID standpoint, it doesn't get much more secure than a stand alone property rental.
A vacation rental is going to be a close to your home environment as you can get on vacation. It's like a change of scenery for your social distancing. Be sure to choose an "entire home" rental for the least amount of risk.
You might not have considered a motel for your vacation; but, I am personally a huge fan and have stayed at a ton of motels this year. They have so much charm and super affordable- two things that I like a lot. Motels are sort of a hybrid of the major hotel chain and the independent vacation rentals. (I want to be sure and highlight a couple of my favorites this year as well: The Dollar Inn Hot Springs was an absolute delight in Hot Springs, SD - a town that captured my heart. The Great Lakes Inn in Spirit Lake, IA was another motel favorite this year for a night at the lake!)
Let's jump in to our pros and cons...
Did I mention that motels are primarily known for being really affordable? As the pros relate to COVID, motels have a dedicated entrance to each room, so you don't have to worry about elevators, hallways, and the like. Just good 'ol fresh air. Motels are also going to be regulated more like hotels and have more accountability for their cleaning and sanitizing.
Not a lot of "COVID-cons" as long as the owners are sanitizing consistently. Your only interactions are primarily going to be at check in and potentially check out. In general, the furnishings are going to be a little more aged and the rooms won't be as well appointed; but, a motel with quality ratings on popular booking sites like Hotels.com is a great choice. Some of my favorite stays have been at character-a-plenty motels.
No bells and whistles, but a great choice for budget conscious travelers that enjoy some quirky experiences and what to be COVID-conscious.
That pretty well outlines that and I hope it gives you some comfort and some ideas about how to stay safely in your travels. When planing trips, we always ask about lodging preferences and make sure everyone feels comfortable - whether that means it's just a place to get a night's sleep or it's a gorgeous centerpiece of your trip. Not sure how to find a motel or a vacation rental that is right for you? We would love to help - remember us for your next trip!