Safe travels: How to plan a social distancing vacation

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When #TheRona rolled into town, plans of escaping to far-flung, dream destinations were immediately dashed. Heck, even travelling to a neighbouring province or state isn’t an option in some places. The good news is this unprecedented disruption is making us all see our backyards with fresh eyes, and chances are no matter where you’re based there’s a smattering of beautiful parks and natural attractions just a couple hours away that you’ve never made the effort to see before.

For those itching to explore, it’s possible to enjoy a great getaway and still practice the social distancing measures that are critical for keeping everyone protected and healthy. From picking accommodation to getting around, here’s everything you need to keep in mind for planning safe travels this summer.

Mount Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis, Alberta

Mount Engadine Lodge

Transportation

The best ways to get around these days are on two or four wheels. It seems like everyone’s got plans to take a road trip, whether it’s in their own vehicle or by renting a trailer or RV. In Canada you can book through Go RVing, RVezy and Canadream, and in the USA the options include Cruise America, RVshare and Outdoorsy. We’ve got so many great national parks across North America–you don’t have to drive far for adventure!

Travelling in your own rig versus by plane ensures minimal contact with other people (and way less airport germs, eww), and access to the most scenic spots. If you’re living your best #VanLife by travelling in a sprinter or trailer, you’ll also avoid having to spend time and money arranging accommodation, with the added perk of sleeping under the stars.

Enjoying the views on a road trip through Montana’s Glacier National Park

For a fun day trip, gear up and hit the surrounding trails on a bike, perhaps by cycling to a nearby town, tackling rugged terrain through a canyon or even e-biking through vineyards.

There’s never been a better time to start cycling, since scenic highways in some areas like Alberta’s Banff National Park are currently closed to vehicles which means a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bike through the Rockies free from the distraction of vehicles.

Cycling the Twin Tunnels trail in Mosier, OR

Where to eat

I’m all for supporting local; however, eating out these days comes with risks. That’s why it’s best to pack your own food whenever possible, which is another perk of taking a road trip. By loading up a cooler with meals and drinks you’ll avoid public areas, save money compared to restaurant prices, and there’s also the convenience factor of not having to track down a lunch spot when you get hangry after that long hike.

Plus, you’ll always have wine handy. So there’s that.

A backseat picnic with wine on the beach

Since it’s inevitable that you’ll have to head into a grocery store or cafe at some point, be sure to wear your mask mmmkay?

Accommodation

As mentioned, camping or travelling by RV is the best option for safe travels so you’re totally self-sufficient. Otherwise, look for accommodations that are built with social distancing in mind.

Single-family vacation homes are a great option since you’ll have the whole place to yourself, and in places like Seabrook, Washington there are strict cleaning policies in place. Houses are rented out for a minimum of one week to ensure less turnover, they use industrial fogging machines to sanitize each home, and there are 24 hours between each check-in.

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Sunset in Seabrook, Washington

Another option is to look for resorts with standalone cabins or villas where you enter your unit from the outside to avoid shared elevators, hallways and lobbies. Heck, even a yurt, glamping tent, treehouse or motel will do! The longer you stay the better, so try to stay put for at least a few nights in each place versus checking in to a new place each day.

For an extra layer of protection, bring a container of antibacterial wipes to swipe over surfaces like light switches, faucets and door knobs when checking in to your room.

Glamping at Mount Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis, Alberta

A glamping tent at Mount Engadine Lodge

Where to go

Getting outside while practicing safe social distancing is A-OK with health officials, so plan your trip around outdoor adventures. Tackle that hike you’ve had your sights set on, relax on a secluded beach, or go for a paddle down the river. If you’re out on the trails, look for loop hikes versus out-and-back routes, which minimizes the potential of crossing paths with anyone.

Black Prince Cirque is one of the best hikes in Kananskis

Kananaskis Country has many great day hikes without anyone around

And here’s a national park hack: if you go first thing in the morning or late in the day, not only will there be less people around but at some parks you also don’t have to pay the entrance fee since the gates aren’t staffed during off hours. Oh, and the light is way better for photography…winning!

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