And on the 3,789th day of quarantine, all the mommies and all the daddies in all the land booked a vacation. Amiright? If you have the travel bug or really want to visit friends or family in other places, we hear you. COVID-19 has canceled travel plans throughout the world and for almost all families. With some places starting to open back up, we’re finding that families are looking to travel again, and soon. Whether it’s a vacation you need after days upon days at home or some good old fashioned, much-needed extended family time, we’ve done the leg work for you and curated a list of helpful coronavirus travel tips and tricks for safely getting around during and after COVID with babies and/or little ones.
20 ways to minimize coronavirus exposure risk and travel as safely as possible with babies or little ones in the age of COVID-19:
1. Pay attention to the numbers when traveling during and after COVID.
You definitely want to look at cases in your own area and cases in and around your potential destination when choosing to travel during and after coronavirus. This will give you a sense of how widespread the cases are where you live and where you’re going so you can assess the overall risk. Keep in mind, however, that testing ability has been pretty low throughout the US; so the numbers don’t necessarily reflect the real number of positive cases in any given area. Nonetheless, it will give you an idea. Here’s the World Health Organization’s global COVID dashboard.
2. Think about who you are going to see or visit.
Although we totally miss grandma and grandpa, if they are high risk, you may want to hold off on that trip. Or if you have a loved one who has a chronic illness, cancer, autoimmune disease, etc. These underlying conditions may increase a person’s risk of contracting Coronavirus and it probably isn’t a great idea to travel to see any family members at a higher risk. For now, stick to FaceTime.
3. Research travel restrictions and country or state regulations when traveling during and after COVID.
It would be awful to travel somewhere and not be able to do anything! Or be stuck in a mandatory quarantine. The best thing to do is research your destination. Some states are requiring folks who travel by air to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival (hint…Hawaii). Some countries aren’t allowing foreign travel in or out. Other states are not welcoming folks from certain places. So, do your research when planning any travel during or after COVID so you can avoid an unfortunate situation. A good place to start is the CDC travel website.
4. Look at closures and accommodations.
Yay! Your destination is welcoming visitors. Phew! The next thing to research is what will be available and open in that state, city or county. Maybe restaurants are still closed. Maybe state parks aren’t open yet. You’ll want to figure out what you can and can’t do. Especially with little ones in tow.
5. Determine the best way to travel during or after COVID.
For some, air travel might be less risky. For others, a road trip may be the best option. Whatever you’re most comfortable with, make sure to do some research about specific rules and regulations. Some airlines require masks. Some pit stops along your route might be closed. If you choose to travel during or after COVID by air, your airline should have detailed information about their COVID response and requirements on their website. But here’s a great list that has lots of information about many popular airlines. PRO TIP: Know your refund policies on anything you book: airfare, hotels, Airbnb’s, etc. That way, if things change and you can’t travel, you know what to expect when it comes to refunds or credits. The great news is that most companies are being pretty flexible these days. Take a look at this list of refund policies from Airfare Watchdog.
6. If traveling by airplane, book strategically!
Decided to fly to your destination? We recommend booking a non-stop flight to minimize your interaction with others. Better yet, find a non-stop red eye flight. Red eyes aren’t as popular so there will likely be far less people on the flight and in the airports. Another bonus about red eyes? Your baby or little one will probably sleep through it! Woohoo!
7. Prepare your crew when traveling during and after COVID.
No matter what age your kiddos are (OK, maybe the baby won’t get it) you can definitely prepare them and talk to them about being safe during your trip. Teach them to sing happy birthday or the ABCs when they wash their hands. Explain to them that it’s best to distance themselves from others right now. If you prepare them in the weeks leading up to your trip, they’ll be more inclined to listen to your instructions and follow safe rules. They may even remind you to follow the rules too!
8. Since we already mentioned handwashing…
The CDC states that this is one of the most basic and most important ways to prevent the spread of COVID. Practicing good hygiene while at home and especially while traveling is a must-do.
9. Hand sanitizer is also a must-do and must have during coronavirus travel!
When you can’t wash your hands with soap and warm water, hand sanitizer is the next best thing. We recommend purchasing one of the mini bottles (TSA approved, if you’re flying) for each traveler (except the baby of course). Think about getting a silicone, clip carrier for easy access. You can buy them on Amazon and in most stores. That way, you don’t have to put it in bags or backpacks and dig around for it (risking contaminating everything else) when you need it!
10. Clothes with pockets are an easy way to enforce the rules.
Kids (especially toddlers) want to touch and feel everything. And it is hard (and annoying) to keep telling them not to touch something for the one millionth time. A great coronavirus travel solution is to dress them in clothes with pockets. A hoodie with pockets is a great option. That way you can say, “hands in pockets” quickly and easily and they will immediately know what to do. An unnamed toddler we know quite well (the three year old son of yours’ truly) actually loves putting his hands in his pockets because he feels like a “growned up”!
11. Pack food and snacks and reusable water bottles.
This is a go to travel trick regardless of COVID but it’s even more important these days. If you have all the food and snacks you need for your trip, you don’t have to exchange money, stop at stores or cafes in the airport, go inside the gas station, etc. It’s a much safer (and much more cost effective) way to eat while traveling right now. Check out our favorite travel snacks for babies and toddlers.
12. On that note, stay healthy!
Viruses are much less likely to impact someone who is eating healthy, getting consistent physical activity, consuming lots of nutritious foods, and staying hydrated. So make sure you and your little ones are taking care of the basics. Eat well and drink plenty of water…especially before coronavirus travel.
13. Pack a thermometer.
It’s a good idea to travel with a thermometer all the time, especially when traveling with babies and kids. But it would be a great idea to have one these days. They can be hard to come by in local stores and if anyone in your family is starting to feel sick on your trip, you’ll want to monitor their temperature.
14. Wear your baby during coronavirus travel.
Again, this is another travel tip we recommend all the time, not just during coronavirus travel. But it has some great benefits specific to traveling during COVID. When you wear baby in a front pack or wrap, they are super close to you and not interacting with others. They also aren’t able to touch or grab things as easily. Also, you won’t have to worry about what the car seat or stroller touched while on the go! Your baby gear won’t be contaminated in public. Sounds pretty smart if we don’t say so ourselves! (PS: babies love to be close to mom or dad while traveling so they will probably be even more calm and relaxed, which makes for an easier trip overall.)
15. Assign one person to be the “public” person.
While out and about on your trip, assign one person to be the person that is public facing. That way only one person is interacting with others. This person should be the one checking in, paying for things, or getting gas. You should also buy this person a dessert once you’ve made it to your destination as a big thank you!
16. Pack disinfecting wipes and use them frequently.
We know disinfecting wipes are hard to find right now, but you’ll definitely want to make sure you have some handy for coronavirus travel. Put some in the car. Put some in the carry on. Put some in your luggage. They are super handy to have so you can quickly sanitize an area that was used or accessed by someone before you. Here’s a great option that would be easy to pack!Remember that you should never use disinfectant wipes (in the place of baby wipes) on your little one’s bum!!
17. When you get to your destination, sanitize everything that traveled with you.
This means you wipe down all of your baggage, luggage, etc. Wipe down the baby gear that you brought with you and used in public. Wipe down the diaper bag. Remove all clothes and wash immediately! Don’t forget your devices! Studies report that your phone is one of the dirtiest items you come in contact with everyday…worse than a public toilet. EEK!
18. Mask wearing is the latest fashion trend.
And it definitely applies to travel fashion too! A few weeks before you plan to go (if you haven’t already done so) start getting your little ones used to wearing masks. That way, when you’re traveling, they’ll already be comfortable with how their mask feels and whining will hopefully be minimized. To increase mask compliance, we highly recommend finding a mask that your little one will love. Here’s Disney’s mask selection, which we know will be popular for many!
19. Baby and any little ones under 2 years old don’t need to wear masks during coronavirus travel!
The CDC doesn’t recommend masks for babies or toddlers under 2. Good to know! Not wearing masks also applies to those with breathing problems and those who cannot easily remove a mask on their own. To ensure your baby or small child is at the lowest risk of contracting coronavirus when traveling, follow all of our other tips.
20. Last but not least, you may want to lay low when you get home from your coronavirus travel experience.
Your coronavirus travel itch was scratched and now you’re back home. You may already be required to quarantine depending on your state, city or county requirements but if you aren’t required to because of government regulations, it may be a good idea to quarantine for a couple weeks anyways. No matter how safe you were while traveling, you could have potentially exposed yourself to COVID. A bit more than if you were staying home anyway. So to be safe and responsible, it’s a good idea to self-quarantine when you get home.
We hope this list of tips and tricks helps those of you who are thinking about coronavirus travel feel more at ease and a bit more prepared. And hey, if you aren’t ready to travel, no worries! Hawaii and Mexico and all the other destinations you’re dreaming about will be there when you’re ready.