At this time of year, you might typically be anticipating your summer vacation and making final bookings.
Given the new normal of COVID-19 health and safety concerns, you may be rethinking plans to fly across the country or to an international destination. But you may still feel comfortable planning a time-honored summer vacation: the great American road trip.
You don't have to go far to have a great drive-to vacation. Nearly three in four people recently surveyed said their first trip will be by car, and half of those trips will be within 200 miles from home. But whether you're sticking to roads close to home or fueling up the car for a longer drive, you will want to take steps to help make the road ahead smoother.
Here are some tips to keep you and your family and friends safe while you still enjoy some summer fun:
Safe Bet: Vacation Home Rentals
Renting a house in the summer is a perennially popular vacation choice in beach and mountain towns across the United States. For this summer, settling into a week or longer rental offers peace of mind if you have concerns about hotels with high-contact public areas as well as plenty of room to spread out and relax.
To ensure you feel comfortable in your vacation home, check the cleaning practices of the rental company. Airbnb, for example, is introducing a "Host Cleaning Protocol" to address COVID-19 prevention, including establishing a 24-hour period between bookings as advised by the CDC. Eventually, the site will feature a “badge" designating hosts that are using these advanced cleaning protocols.
Expect to find similar practices for VRBO, HomeAway and similar services. However, since these are only recommendations, it's also a good idea to bring your own sanitizing supplies and use them on high-touch surfaces.
Please note: Many vacation rental booking policies defer to individual owners to set their cancellation policies, so be sure to read the fine print in advance.
Hotels Raise Standards, Relax Cancellation Policies
If you're choosing a hotel for your summer vacation, you will likely have to navigate public spaces, such as the lobby, pool area and restaurant. However, major hotel chains are adopting new safety and cleaning practices, such as those implemented by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and offering more liberal cancellation and rebooking policies.
To maximize social distancing, look for hotels that feature reduced or non-touch check-in and check-out. IHG Hotels & Resorts, for example, has adopted its "Clean Promise," which includes touchless transactions, sanitized key cards and paperless checkout. These are all things you can expect, or request, at properties big and small. You can also ask for a room that hasn't been recently occupied.
Although the CDC has not warned against pool use, adhere to social distancing on the pool deck and throughout the property, and ask to have lounge chairs wiped down. Use a pen to push elevator buttons, consider taking food to go or eating outdoors when possible and exercise outdoors instead of using indoor hotel facilities.
New Car Clean?
All of the big car rental companies have implemented cleaning procedures that follow CDC guidelines posted on their websites, including multi-step cleaning procedures that range from wiping down key fobs at Enterprise to disinfecting driver's seats at Hertz. You can also request a car that hasn't been driven in the last 24-hours.
Note that rental policies have been relaxed so that you can cancel pre-paid reservations made directly through the car companies. For third-party rentals, such as Expedia, contact the source of your booking not the car company.
Before You Get There
Before you leave for your summer road trip, check reservation policies for national and state parks, beaches, theme and water parks, museums and other attractions that may be limiting visitors (or hours) to enforce social distancing rules and allow time for extra cleaning.
Bring any gear you may need, since not all shops are operating. And, of course, check in with the CDC recommendations for travel, too.
New Rules of the Road
Finally, familiarize yourself with state rules about social distancing and pack face masks so you can safely interact with people on the road. Not all rest stops are currently open in all states, so bring food and beverages with you, and check ahead to plan for bathroom breaks and refueling.
Limit stops while you're on the road and keep a six-foot distance at rest stops when you get out of the car. It's also a good idea to bring sanitizing wipes and/or disinfecting sprays to use in public restrooms.
Most importantly, stay safe, have fun and don't forget the sunscreen!
All content provided in this blog is supplied by Melissa Klurman and is for informational purposes only. Barclays takes no position as to the views, and makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.
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