While travel is largely on hold with the pandemic looming on, some travelers are getting creative to get a change of scenery, including planning short weekend getaways or road trips closer to home. Whether you’re considering a quick socially distanced trip or are looking forward to travel’s return in the future, staying at a hotel may be on your mind. In fact, according to a recent survey of travelers, among those with travel booked in the next 6 months, 40% plan on staying in a hotel.
If you’re considering a hotel stay during COVID-19, here are 7 tips for the cautious traveler.
Research your destination.
With quickly changing restrictions, local spikes and quarantine policies varying by state, it’s important to stay current on the status of your destination. Travel may be allowed when you book only to be restricted when the time comes. Our Travel Restrictions map shows you up-to-date restrictions, current COVID-19 numbers by destination and lets you set destinations alerts so you’ll be informed should restrictions change. While our Travel Restrictions map is a great resource, it’s always a good idea to also check with the applicable governmental authorities based on your destination.
But even with the most careful planning, you might still have to rethink your travel plans at the last minute so booking travel with flexible change and cancellation policies is key. You can see properties that may be waiving their change or cancellation fees right in your search results, or filter by Free Cancellation to see only results that offer that option. You can also refer to our guide to hotels with flexible change policies for more information.
Know the hotel’s safety and sanitation policies.
If you’re going anywhere outside your front door, safety and sanitation will certainly be top of mind. And this will be emphasized even further when considering a hotel stay. We’ve tagged properties that have enacted additional safety measures right in your search results. You can also refer to our guide on hotels offering increased health and safety measures.
Wear a mask and social distance whenever possible.
With states in different phases of reopening and having different requirements on wearing masks, it’s important to understand and adhere to local regulations. While different states have different regulations regarding masks (you can check the requirements for individual states here), it can’t hurt to err on the side of caution, especially as a traveler. Cloth masks give you the flexibility to wash and reuse (which can help save money too!)
Social distancing is also key. Many hotels have implemented social distancing requirements indicated with signs in common areas. Avoid crowded elevators whenever possible, either by waiting for the next one or taking the stairs. Not in the best shape of your life? No judgement here. Request a room on a lower floor where you’d be comfortable walking up and down a few flights to avoid the elevator.
Request a room that’s been empty for a few days.
Even though hotels are being meticulous about safety and sanitation, it can’t hurt to put a few extra days between your stay and the last guest. With less people traveling, hotels (especially larger properties) are not likely to be at capacity, so requesting a room that’s been unoccupied should be a simple request.
DIY cleaning offers peace of mind.
Even with increased sanitation and a buffer of time between you and the last guest, give yourself peace of mind by BYO cleaning products and doing a quick wipe down of high-touch surfaces. Don’t forget light switches, phones and remote controls (even in non-COVID-19 times, this can be smart). If you’re flying, you can transfer liquid cleaning products to 3oz bottles or pack disinfecting wipes, which, according to TSA, are good to go in your carry-on.
Skip the hotel common spaces whenever possible.
Instead of indoor hotel restaurants, order room service or dine outside, if possible. If you’re using the pool, choose outdoor over indoor and wipe down chairs before use. Similarly, it may be smart to skip the hotel gym. If you’re looking for an excuse not to use those sneakers, we got you. Plus, if you’ve opted to take the stairs over the elevator, you’re likely getting increased steps in. Or you could get a run in outside.
Just say no to housekeeping (but still tip!).
While everyone loves a freshly made-up hotel bed, it may be wise to put your Do Not Disturb sign to use as much as possible. Consider it one less person you’ll be in contact with during your stay. While hotel staff will likely be required to wear a mask and gloves while in your space, it can’t hurt to be extra cautious. But, if you do forgo the service, tipping is still appreciated. Housekeeping will have to clean when you’re gone, and it’s a challenging time to be in the service industry.
Methodology: Data based on a survey of 9,500 American adults conducted May 28, 2020.