14 Aug Getting comfortable staying at hotels during COVID-19
We’re traveling again with these safety precautions
We’re back traveling again. We recently converted several airline trips into driving vacations. Someday we’ll feel comfortable again with flying the friendly skies.
This article shares our experiences during several recent vacations that involved overnight accommodations. We’re not infectious disease specialists but we follow the advice of health experts and soak up as much public information as possible. Some of you may think our precautions are overkill; others might think we aren’t going far enough with safety. But at WRT, we like to share experiences that might help you craft your own strategies for travel and adventure.
We choose chains with clearly stated online COVID-19 responses. If a hotel isn’t communicating its new procedures on its website, that’s a tip for us that the business is out of touch with current travelers and their concerns. There are plenty of options. So far, we’ve chosen Hilton and Marriott properties. We made an exception at a small motel in Brevard, NC, which had excellent protocols.
Select a hub hotel. We pick one place, centrally located to our vacation destinations, and use that as our hub hotel. In other words, we avoid moving around a lot with multiple check-ins. We’re using this strategy again during an upcoming vacation to the Black Hills. In the past, we may have moved hotels 2-3 times; instead, we’ll set out each day from our hub to explore the Black Hills region. This strategy involves a little more driving but less packing, unpacking and contact with people.
Try keyless entry. Big chains offer this. We check-in online the day before arriving and select our exact room using the hotel’s floor plan. That way we can pick the top floor, away from the elevators and ice machine, increasing our chances of a good night’s sleep. And with the hotel’s app, we don’t even need a room key or card – our phone now opens the door.
Take the stairs or ride the elevator alone. It’s the most confining public space in a hotel. Most elevator riders understand the benefits of riding alone. For the few indignant ones, I’ve learned to ignore their selfishness.
Skip housekeeping. We normally like a daily room cleaning, especially a fresh towel service. But we’ve changed our standard. During a recent three-day stay, we skipped daily housekeeping, delivered our daily soiled towels to a centrally located hamper in the hotel and picked up a new set, while never coming in contact with anyone.
Finding good meals. We really miss dining out during a vacation. Now, we search online for highly rated restaurants that provide takeout and are close enough to our hotel so we can return while the food is still warm. And we typically eat in our room. While good eats is our top priority, it’s a bonus if the restaurant also provides takeout brews. We’ve eaten some excellent meals this way, without lowering our standards too far. We have dined at a few restaurants with spacious outdoor seating, if they’re following appropriate guidelines. In addition, we’ve also learned to pack meal items from home such as plates and utensils.
Stock a cooler. We pack sandwiches and snacks for lunches that last us several days on the road. For our comfort level, it reduces our contact with others during the day.
Pack a disinfectant kit. It’s a new world for travelers. We take supplies such as rubber gloves, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and of course, masks. We also added wine, which cleanses our palates.
Bring along some comfort items. It might not actually contribute to safety, but bring something that makes you feel more comfortable. For us, it’s our pillows from home.
Speak up! If you experience hotel staff being noncompliant with their stated policy, tell them about it. We’ve done that with other aspects of travel, like the open-air boat trip that stated all staff and guests must wear masks. As soon as we boarded, several people removed their mask and the boat captain didn’t say anything, so I asked in front of the group if their policy had changed. Individuals put their masks back on without anyone making a scene. We booked this trip because it required masks, otherwise we wouldn’t have chosen this concessionaire.
Bring a retractable tape measure. How else are you going to accurately measure six feet? Just kidding, of course. We’re trying to maintain our sense of humor during these unusual times.
We’re serious about enjoying travel while staying safe. And we’ve chosen a balance that feels right for us.