Stay Flexible During End-of-summer Travel

AAA offers tips and resources amid surging cases of the COVID-19 Delta Variant

BOISE – As the summer draws to a close, many Americans are considering one last vacation before school and colder weather keep them closer to home.  But as COVID-19 cases surge, with many attributed to the more-contagious delta variant, AAA advises travelers to be ready to adapt to rapidly-changing conditions before and even during their trip.

“As we grapple with the unknown in this latest phase of the pandemic, people are generally going to fall into one of two categories – those who may be more reluctant to travel, and those who are anxious to hit the road before health and safety restrictions limit their ability to do so,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “Those who make the very personal decision to travel need to do their homework before they go.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised that fully vaccinated people can travel domestically with little risk.  However, some destinations and travel providers may require proof of vaccination before traveling, including those who are returning to the United States from an international location.

“Mask requirements vary from place to place, so it’s important to have one for every person in your party, especially if you’re traveling by plane, where face coverings are still mandatory,” Conde said.  “Fortunately, the air on a plane circulates regularly, and according to the CDC, most viruses and germs don’t spread easily.”

The National Park Service has also issued policy updates requiring visitors to wear a mask in all indoor areas, and in crowded outdoor spots, such as narrow trails, if distancing isn’t possible.

Throughout the summer, many Americans have opted for the comfort and convenience of traveling by car, which affords an additional layer of protection, as well as the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions.  For the latest information on health and safety precautions at your end destination and the places you’ll visit along the way, travelers should consult AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and TripTik.AAA.com.

Travel activity has been strong throughout the summer, with several popular destinations and theme parks re-opening to the public.  But visitors should double-check a day or two before visiting in case hours of operation, capacity limits or other circumstances have changed.

During the pandemic, hotels have significantly expanded their cleaning protocols to protect the health and wellbeing of their guests.  But how can the public know that these programs have been properly implemented?

AAA recently enhanced its Diamond inspections process by testing surfaces in hotel rooms for the presence of adenosine triphosphate, an energy-carrying molecule found in living things like mold and bacteria.  Only hotels that meet AAA Inspected Clean standards will be assigned a Diamond designation based on the level of amenities and services that they provide.

“As an added precaution, take along disinfectant wipes to clean high-touch surfaces such as light switches, television remotes, and doorknobs,” Conde said.  “You should also plan for a very different hotel experience.  If you’re staying for more than one day, housekeeping staff at some hotels will only clean the room or replace the linens upon request.  And your dining options may be somewhat limited, such as pre-packaged items instead of a traditional hot breakfast.”

Traveling with children

Families with children who are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine face additional questions about whether to travel.  Road trips can provide a safer option, with fewer opportunities to transmit the virus.  If you choose to fly, everyone over the age of 2 will be required to wear a mask on the plane and in airports.  Masks are also required on trains and buses.

“If you want to get a camping trip in before the end of summer, please make sure you are aware of any fire activity in the area, and be prepared to evacuate quickly,” Conde said.  “You should also make sure that the air quality is healthy enough to be in the area you’re planning to visit.”