I’ve been thinking about when and how I’ll feel comfortable traveling in this post-Covid (post-lockdown) world. I don’t think the pandemic is going away any time soon. We shouldn’t expect a miracle cure, or a quick vaccine. This means that while social distancing measures will ease, the virus will still be out there, lurking. Infected people will be carrying the virus, many without symptoms themselves. It’s not a clear situation for travel after the lockdown lifts.
I’ve been advocating staying home for months. So does this mean we should stay in our homes for the next year or two or longer (until an effective treatment or vaccine is developed)? I don’t think that’s realistic. In countries with good public health systems, we can expect to see aggressive testing and contact tracing. And rational policies like mandatory mask wearing. These policies will allow businesses to operate but with various safety restrictions like distancing between customers. And as people start to break out of lockdown, many will look to travel.
More than 40% of Americans are expecting to start locally, taking a road trip somewhere nearby. That mirrors my thinking. I understand the risks of disease spread from more populous areas to more rural areas. People visiting gas stations and shops in small towns could unwittingly start another outbreak somewhere remote. Taking that into account, I’m considering destinations that are within a few hours of my home. If I do go somewhere remote I’ll bring along all my groceries so I don’t expose folks in the local stores.
As for lodging, I don’t like the idea of hotels where there are lots of people indoors with me. But there are other good options:
- Rent an RV
- Go camping
- Home exchange
- Airbnb or other vacation rental
I’ve started to put out feelers for local home exchanges. I’m hoping to find swap partners who have been observing the same level of precautions as my household. I would also make sure we each leave out all the necessary cleaning supplies so that we can disinfect upon arrival.
The alternative is Airbnb for lodging. Airbnb is rolling out enhanced cleaning procedures, and with self-check in combined with the option to reserve a place that has been empty for 24 hours prior to our arrival, I think this is pretty safe. Of course I would still do my own disinfecting upon arrival.
After taking these precautions, my trips will likely be focused on spending time outdoors. The research on virus spread suggests this is much safer than indoor activities. Enjoying nature, wandering the streets of a city, or just exploring a new neighborhood. I’m not sure when I will feel comfortable eating inside a restaurant. But maybe this summer I could enjoy restaurant patio dining or outdoor wine tasting. Most likely my trips will have a focus on takeout and cooking in.
I don’t actually need to travel. And so I think it’s my responsibility to be cautious. I don’t want to be a vector for spread of Covid-19. But at some point it would be nice to get out. I will continue to assess the safety and disease progression in my region as I consider summer plans.