Traveling in the pandemic; safe travel precautions

Traveling in pandemic times; tips for safe travel…

Last week I wrote a travel feature about a proposed winter trip to Yellowstone National Park, utilizing pandemic travel precautions. Our plan is to drive and spend six or seven nights in Wyoming and Montana motels we have frequented before. Both the article about the wondrous winter in Yellowstone, as well as needed pandemic precautions, brought a number of positive reactions and questions as to safe travel.

Hence, I decided to review both Center for Disease Control travel recommendations and consult with three medical doctors who are members of the several National Ski and Bike Patrols I am a member of. Here are the highlights of what both CDC and the doctors recommend.

Bighorn Sheep, Gardiner, MT, just outside Yellowstone’s North Entrance.

The CDC offers extensive advice: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html, offering considerable detail including:

  • Get your flu shot before you travel.
  • Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.
  • Know when to delay your travel. Do not travel if you or your travel companions are sick.
  • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public settings.
  • Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not from your travel group.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Also suggested are the following recommendations:

  • For 14 days before you travel, take everyday precautions like wearing masks, social distancing, and washing your hands. Avoid the following activities that can put you at higher risk for COVID-19:
  • Going to a large social gathering like a wedding, funeral, or party.
  • Attending a mass gathering like a sporting event, concert, or parade, or crowds like in restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters.
  • Pack food and water in case restaurants and stores are closed, or if drive-through, take-out, and outdoor-dining options aren’t available.
  • If you are considering cleaning your travel lodgings, see CDC’s guidance on how to clean and disinfect.
  • Consider getting tested with a viral test 1-3 days before you travel. Keep a copy of your test results with you during travel; you may be asked for them.
  • Do not travel if you test positive; immediately isolate yourself, and follow public health recommendations.
  • Check and follow State and county regulations.

I also did a web search for the hotels we’re considering and was reassured by the detail offered by Antlers Motel in Jackson, WY and our other choices:

Bison crossing the Lamar River, in Yellowstone’s northeastern portion.
  • A shield between guests and staff in main contact areas 
  • Contactless check-out is available 
  • Property confirms they are implementing guest safety measures 
  • Temperature checks are available to guests 
  • Social distancing measures are in place 
  • Property follows sanitization practices of SafeStay (AHLA – USA) 
  • Guests are provided with free hand sanitizer 
  • Commonly-touched surfaces are cleaned with disinfectant 
  • No elevators (we typically pick one or two story motels, to avoid elevator rides with people we don’t know).

All three doctors backed the CDC recommendations, and reaffirmed the suggestion to avoid crowded areas like indoor restaurants. Noting the appearance of several new Covid mutations, all three emphasized the need for the utmost in pandemic precautions for months into the future.

Our “must take” travel items, including, from top right (below our snowshoes), bottled water, good binoculars, trail mix (walnuts and dried cranberries), PPE including an N95 mask, latex gloves, multiple face masks that can be doubled up, antiseptic wipes, rubbing alcohol for disinfectant, two sizes of hand sanitizer, milk and oatmeal, and small cooler.

We expect we will be vaccinated before our trip, hence we should be fairly safe from airborne virus, though we will continue to practice mask protocols and strict social distancing for months down the road.  We will arrange almost-staff-less check-in and checkout for the several motels, take plenty of alcohol wipes for door knobs, sinks and common surfaces. As to meals, we shall pack our own breakfasts and lunches, and do takeout for evening meals. I expect that many restaurants in Wyoming and Montana will be open for indoor dining – but we’re going to steer clear until the pandemic is way less prevalent, even with vaccinations.

In September, 2020, we spent two weeks on the road, arranging inexpensive weeks through Interval International. One week was at a lovely new slope-slide hotel in Breckenridge, Colorado, the other was slope-side at Snowbird Ski Resort, Utah. Both hotels publicized that they exercised the highest of pandemic protocols and practiced the utmost in social-distancing (as they encouraged their patrons to do). The hotel in Breckenridge definitely did so, and guests practiced precautions as well. The Lodge in Utah, not nearly as well, hence, we departed Utah five days early. That week in Colorado, we felt about as safe in that hotel as we did had we stayed at home.

Hope I’ve offered you some insight, and we wouldn’t do such a national parks trip unless we’re vaccinated by then. If vaccinations are delayed, we will likely delay our trip. For more on the proposed Yellowstone trip, see my Record blog for last week’s feature.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com; follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Happy travels in your world!

This entry was posted in Mountain West (Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado), Northern California, Pacific Northwest USA (Oregon, Washington, Idaho), Sacramento/Capitol region, Sierra Nevada, Southeast US, Southwest USA (Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas), Stockton/San Joaquin County, Teardrop and tiny travel trailers and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

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