Ahh, summertime. A time when kids are out of school and families plan vacations to spend uninterrupted time together. By summer 2020, most families have spent nearly three months straight together. While many vacations have been canceled, other families are looking for a change of scenery while maintaining social distancing.
“We’ve all had to rethink what a vacation means,” said Dr. Alison Curfman, pediatric emergency physician and medical director of Mercy vKids. “I, too, had to cancel our trips for the summer but hope to still get away from home. It is possible to do safely, if you take precautions.”
Air travel is still a concern for many, while some families have and will continue to fly. Masking and sanitizing are the two biggest factors if your family plans to fly.
Dr. Curfman decided road trips are the choice for her family. “You have more control over your environment when traveling together in a car,” she said.
Here are Dr. Curfman’s tips for a safe road trip:
- Wear masks whenever you stop to go inside or might be around large gatherings outside.
- For restroom stops, Dr. Curfman tries to find larger family restrooms to monitor handwashing afterward. If that isn’t an option, try to have an adult with each child to ensure good handwashing. It’s still a good idea to use hand sanitizer when back in the car.
- Avoid stopping where there may be large groups of people around. Consider a park or open-air rest stop for the kids to stretch their legs and run around without being inside. (See also our earlier article about playgrounds). Find a picnic table and bring your own food, to limit exposure at restaurants.
Lodging is the next question when it comes to vacations. Is it safe to stay in a hotel or rented space? Again, Dr. Curfman said we all must weigh the risks we’re willing to take. Here are some things to consider when it comes to lodging:
- Staying with family members. If you plan to stay with family members, ask if they have also been social distancing.
- Staying in a hotel. Hotel rooms are more likely to be turned over to new guests each night. This frequent turnover doesn’t allow as much time between families to let particles in the air dissipate.
- Staying in a rental house/apartment. As with a hotel, it’s important to know if the owners are spacing out guests. The longer they allow between families, the safer it will be.
Regardless where you stay, Dr. Curfman suggests taking disinfectant wipes to high-touched areas – doorknobs, light switches, sink and toilet handles, etc. “I would also decline cleaning service during your stay, to limit the exposure risk with added people in and out.”
“It’s important for families to think about how they can relax and unwind together, even if it looks a bit different this year,” Dr. Curfman said.