The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising against non-essential travel, as the pandemic continues to spread. If you’re still planning a trip in the next several months, it’s important to follow the CDC’s safe travel guidelines on the road and at your destination, including maintaining distance from people not in your household. These vacation ideas will allow you to do just that.
Rent a mountain cabin
With their mix of comfy isolation and soothing woodsy views, cabins are a popular pandemic travel option. “People are craving cozy cabins,” says travel expert Melanie Fish with VRBO, which reports a 25 percent increase in rentals over last year. Areas near lakes and rivers are particularly popular, VRBO has found, including towns such as Emory, Texas (close to Lake Fork and Lake Tawakoni) and Slade, Kentucky (near the Red River Gorge). To protect guests from COVID infections, VRBO and companies such as Getaway — which rents tiny cabins — have developed strict cleaning and disinfecting guidelines, and Airbnb has instituted mandatory safety measures for hosts and guests (including a mask requirement for anyone in common areas or shared spaces).
Before renting a cabin online, read the reviews and consider rentals managed by a property management company, which is more likely to provide assistance if something goes wrong, suggests Lauren Cardinale, a travel adviser with Travel Design Co. in New Orleans. Also confirm that online pics of the cabin are current. Cardinale mentions a couple who recently booked a home that looked nothing like the online photos: “They said it looked like an animal cemetery — there were mounted animals in every room, which were not in the pictures or the description. And they were not OK with it.”
Hit the beach
Cheaper prices are a big incentive for taking an off-season beach trip. “You'll probably save about 30-40 percent off of summer pricing,” says Cardinale, who booked a Gulf Coast beach house that included two free nights during Thanksgiving week. But because of COVID, Cardinale expects higher-than-usual demand for off-season beach properties. And be prepared to cook your own meals: Even in normal years, many restaurants and businesses shut down for the off-season, and the pandemic could increase the number of closures.
Wondering where to go? A November VRBO report ranked the Outer Banks, North Carolina, as a top five location among clients. With more than 10,000 vacation rentals compared to about 2,000 hotel rooms, the Outer Banks offers plentiful opportunities for beach house isolation. On the West Coast, Dana Storr, a California-based travel designer for Luxami Travel (an affiliate of TravelStore), says her clients are most interested in Hawaii: Visitors can now avoid the state's 14-day quarantine by presenting a negative COVID test and completing a health questionnaire.