Questions about changing your travel plans due to COVID-19? Find answers here.

If your heart is telling you to book a trip to some far-flung paradise while your brain is telling you not to leave the house, you’re not alone. This travel tug-‘o’-war is nagging at many of us, especially when scrolling through our own social media feeds presents us with throwback photos from past trips. While all travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions (travelers should check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips), here are some pointers on how to take those first tentative steps out the door once your community dubs it safe to do so.

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Hit the road

The open road spells freedom anytime, but especially during times like these when, little by little, the world is starting to open up again. Unlike air travel, interaction with other folks is lessened. Pumping gas requires minimal interaction and only a pair of disposable gloves, and between the drive through at fast food restaurants and takeout options at roadside diners and mom ‘n’ pop eateries, dining options are plentiful. Meanwhile, most motels and hotels lining interstates and major highways are accepting reservations, vacation rentals offer virtually zero (if any) person-to-person contact and RV vacations promise no contact at all. On a road trip, you are literally in the driver’s seat, which means the decision of how far from home you wish to stray is completely yours. Best of all? Traffic in and out of your home city is likely to be minimal—for now

Stay close to home

No matter which part of the country you live in, we’re willing to bet there are plenty of cool attractions in your region that you either haven’t gotten around to yet, or haven’t even discovered. Check your state’s tourism site to unearth a few interesting, drivable destinations that make for great quick getaways. Start small with a day trip to a nearby beach, trail or historic site, if that’s what you’re most comfortable with.

Get out into nature

You’ve been cooped up—perhaps with kids—since March and you are going stir crazy. We don’t blame you. While hanging out in a front or backyard (if you’re fortunate enough to even have one) or walking around the block is nice, we understand craving more. The great outdoors might just be the answer. State and local municipalities are already starting to loosen restrictions on parks. National Parks are likewise following suit. Check the NPS website for more information. Likewise, the U.S. boasts more than 88,000 miles of shoreline including many secluded beaches perfect for taking a walk or getting fresh air. Check state and county websites to see which ones are open and accessible to visitors.

Book a hotel with enhanced cleanliness standards

We get it, a clean hotel room is a must. Good news: The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) recently released a set of safety guidelines that were issued in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Guidelines and standards are meant to evolve based on recommendations from public health experts and authorities, and also comply with federal, state and local laws. Read the guidelines here and remember they are just guidelines. Call your hotel in advance to ask what safety standards they’ve put in place.

Use the “no change fees” filter to search flights

One of the few positive effects the coronavirus has had on travel is that many airlines have become much more flexible with their change and cancellation fees. Book your next trip now without the worry by filtering your flight search results by airlines offering these flexible options. Sites like Travelocity.com make it easy; just click the “No change fees” search filter and you’ll see prices for dozens of flights with flexible policies, all in one place.

Book hotels and rental cars with flexible cancellation policies

Travelocity.com is also a great source for finding hotels that offer free cancellation. Again, this option lets you book with ease and confidence, just in case things change or you change your mind. Limiting your hotel search results to properties with flexible policies is as easy as choosing the “Free cancellation” option under the “Payment type” filter. As for rental cars, Travelocity always lets you pay later, so you can cancel your car at any time.

Book a vacation rental

If you’ve never booked a vacation rental, your next adventure might be the time to try one out! Vacation rentals offer one-of-a-kind accommodations in unique locations. Imagine the serenity of having your very own lakefront cabin, gazing up at the stars from the comfort of an airstream trailer in the desert or hearing the waves lap up against the shore at an oceanfront cottage. The possibilities are endless!

Pack wisely

Prepare to leave that second swimsuit tucked away in a drawer as you make room in your luggage for a few COVID-era essentials. A lot of questions have arisen around the value of wearing protective coverings, general hygiene and disinfecting public spaces. To better understand how these issues might impact your packing decisions, visit the CDC website which offers answers to these questions and more.

Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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