After months of staying home, many families are eager to put travel plans back on the calendar. Some are creating travel pods, small groups of friends or family members with whom to share an adventure.
If such an idea sounds intriguing, here are five tips to consider:
1. Choose your pod wisely
There are so many factors to consider when planning a group trip in the era of COVID-19. Do all potential travelers share a similar attitude toward safety and risk tolerance? Will each member quarantine before departing on your trip together? Is pretrip testing an option? Will family members be committed to wearing masks as advised by the CDC? Does any member of the group have an underlying condition that might put them more at risk?
Parents you know from the sidelines of the soccer field might show different colors in a setting away from your hometown. Consider hosting a Zoom session to discuss specifics before making final plans.
2. Where to stay
Family groups often choose to share a beach house, condo or cabins. Camping, glamping and RV travel also provide good options for shared fun paired with plenty of space for all. Ask about contactless check-in to avoid unnecessary encounters.
Consider accommodations with access to a kitchen. You’ll have the option to stock up early and eliminate the exposure multiple grocery store stops and dining establishments might pose.
Sharing accommodations or campsites often means divvying up expenses, space assignments, cleaning and cooking. Be sure to have a clearly defined plan before your trip gets underway to avoid misunderstandings about how time and resources will be allocated.
3. What to do
Plan lots of outdoor activities. Hiking, biking, rafting and fishing all provide plenty of fresh air and the chance to appreciate wide open spaces. Traveling as a pod also means you can more easily organize a private float, tour or ride into the wilderness without sharing the adventure with others outside your bubble.
4. Style matters
Not everyone’s parenting style is in sync. And, months of managing work, school and life commitments from the kitchen table has frayed more than a few edges. Before departure, consider discussing issues ranging from bedtime and use of technology to strategies for handling mealtime, mask-wearing and household rules with the other parents. Then share expectations with your family before the fun begins.
If your children typically make their beds, minimize TV time and eat what they are served, it can be awkward if their travel pals are watching cartoons while waiting for a parent to create a custom waffle and squeeze special orange juice.
5. Plan B
While your pod members may have the best of intentions for quarantining or sticking to your well-crafted plan for safe travel, it’s good to have a backup plan. Discuss how things might play out should someone in your group be unable to meet quarantine commitments.
Even though the kids may be craving social time with their peers, a sudden change in their environment might result in unexpected behaviors. And don’t forget to check for updates in your intended destination. If you are headed toward a new hot spot, it’s probably best to opt for Plan B.
Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (www.LOHayes.com ) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via FamilyTravel.com.
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