If you have to travel during the pandemic, read these tips from Twiniversity founder Natalie Diaz to help you plan a more stress-free adventure by giving you food for thought about your trip.
While traveling during the pandemic is frowned upon for good reason, we know that MANY of our friends and family are getting out town for one reason or another and it would be silly of us to pretend that everyone is just staying put like most states recommend their residents do.
While the CDC discourages travel, they do recognize that some people may need to travel during the pandemic and they have strongly urged the public to use caution when traveling.
If you are one of the families that have to travel either for your sanity, for work, or to attend a memorial service for a friend or family who has passed from COVID-19 (as we have), we figured we’d give you a few tips and some food for thought to make your travel experience a little less stressful and lot more safe.
Air Travel During the Pandemic
Air travel isn’t what it was a few months ago. While we know airlines are really making great efforts when it comes to safety, the other airline passengers are the variables here. We’ve seen plenty of viral videos about people not willing to wear their masks during the flight or taking it off as soon as you literally take off. If you are taking a flight, seat selection is key. Some airlines are booking only the window and aisle seats to allow for more social distancing, however not every airline is abiding by those rules.
Call your airline beforehand (it’s worth the hold time) to ask about any special accommodations you need to take with your children, especially if they are under the age of 1. Don’t forget to ask what precautions they are taking to sanitize the plane after each flight and how often the flight attendants are tested if this is something that’s on your mind. A lot of times, the questions in our head can become a big source of anxiety, so just ask, get your answer, and make your decision based on that.
Is the COVID pandemic starting to get you down? Read this to remind yourself to find the humor and perk up a bit! If I Don’t Laugh, I’ll Cry: One Mom’s COVID Story
Car Travel During the Pandemic:
If you are taking a family road trip, awesome! Our country has great spots from coast to coast that may have not been visited by your crew unless you were forced to take a road trip. Be sure to research US National Parks. Also, the country’s greatest roadside attractions should be on your car travel must-visit destinations. The logistics around road travel can be a tiny bit more stressful right now, and for good reason.
Need a good podcast for the road? Check out our Twiniversity podcasts here!
To-do’s before you hit the road
Check if your insurance is up to date and you have a recently printed copy of it, if it’s all done electronically.
Check if your driver’s license is up to date. States aren’t too forgiving if you are driving with an expired license because the DMV was closed in your state.
Know what roadside assistance program you’re a part of and have the proper documentation for that just in case. While you’re looking at your roadside assistance program info, they might be able to provide some outstanding tips on travel during the pandemic.
Plan out your rest stops. Create “Rest Stop Rules” with your family. Are you using the buddy system? Can you plan the route to make sure your rest stop has a family restroom if you need one? Can you find a rest stop that has a bathroom that you enter from outside as opposed to waiting on line inside a building where other people are grabbing magazines and coffee? You actually should be able to plan your ride to the mile. Have a few backup plans for unexpected detours too though (check ahead to see if there’s construction on your route). Remember Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. So have a backup for your backup.
Is mom guilt starting to pile up during the COVID pandemic? Read one twin mom’s humorous, relatable account of how she is facing mom guilt here with The Corona-Coaster Lockdown with Tiger King, Gin and Toddler Twins
Supplies for Travel During the Pandemic
Traveling with kids has always made you feel like more of a pack mule than a tourist, and now we’ve complicated things even more. Add masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, and cleaning wipes to the ever-growing list you’re creating before you get out of town.
Speaking as a bit of a germaphobe (I’ve been one since my twins came home from the NICU 15 years ago), my germ anxiety is a bit on the high side, as you might imagine. I’ve always traveled with cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer, but now we recommend enough to supply a tiny village for travel during the pandemic.
A pack of wipes PER PERSON. A hand sanitizer PER PERSON. Five pairs of gloves PER PERSON. Hand sanitizer refills and bonus garbage bags to get rid of your old supplies so you don’t leave our litter everywhere. These supplies should be at the top of your list, right next to “underwear”. You should also consider taking a thermometer and more meds than you think you’ll need. Fever reducers, decongestants, allergy meds, cough drops (or lollipops). They don’t take up much room and if you need them, it would stink to be in a city you aren’t familiar with and need to get to a drug store.
Stay up to date with new travel tips from the Twiniversity MoM squad by subscribing to our emails today!
Hotels for Travel During the Pandemic
Do you know how the hotel rooms are cleaned each day? Can you check-in online so you can have as little contact with the staff as possible? What’s the cancellation policy? If breakfast is included in the rate, will you eat it? How is it prepared? How do you pick it up? Can you get a bunch for the road if you are just making an overnight stop on a road trip? Do you feel comfortable eating an apple from the buffet? If you don’t, how are you going to clean it? What about the elevators? How many people per elevator from different parties?
Yes, it’s a lot of questions, and I’m sure you’ve thought about most of these. We just want to make sure you’re asking yourself the right questions to see what you can do contactless vs in-person. Calling the hotel directly is the way to go. While most hotel chains have an 800 number you can reach out too, I STRONGLY suggest you reach out to the front desk of your particular hotel and ask them directly instead of relying on the corporate policy on their website. PLUS, you can get the actual name of a person who will be there when you check-in and if you have further questions, you know who to ask. Finally, think about checking in during off-hours. This will limit the number of people in the lobby and create a less stressful environment.
How will sleeping work away from home with your toddlers? See what our Twiniversity families suggest for toddler sleep while traveling here.
Visiting Family for Travel During the Pandemic
Have you considered setting guide rules for family when you visit? We just did an entire video on Creating a Quarantine Bubble for our Membership Learner Library and it talks about how it’s ok to set guidelines for what you feel is safe for them to do and not do. If you are staying with friends and family, consider sending supplies you’ll need ahead of time; diapers, formula, wipes, water bottles, groceries, outdoor toys, mostly anything is deliverable these days and you should consider it. Less stuff for the car or your luggage equals less stress.
Getting the twins ready for “unusual” travel during the pandemic
Ok, let me first say that we aren’t sure how long this whole mask-wearing, social distancing, hand sanitizing portion of our life will be, and honestly, this may just be it for the next 20 years. Yeah, that would stink, but you know what… your kids may not know travel any other way.
Someday we might be speaking to the twins and say things like, “Back in my day, we used to do this thing called shaking hands.” It might all seem so antiquated, BUT on the other hand, maybe we only have to deal with this for a few more weeks (that’s not looking too likely, by the way). Either way, you need to sell this experience to the twins. If you have to go away, you have to make the best of it for their sake. You need to let them know that you are going to keep them safe.
If they are under the age of 4 and you didn’t travel much before, they are going to think this whole thing is just normal, so sell it like that. It is what it is, as I’ve said a thousand times to my twins in their life. You and your kids should always feel safe. If your Spidey-senses act up, reassess the situation, and maybe even consider going home.
If they are 5 or older, you can tell them that this isn’t typical and here are the rules. Set boundaries about who they can talk to when they need to wear their mask, what you are going to do on the way there, and what’s going to happen once they are there.
Try to keep with their bedtimes and morning routines if you can. It will bring you all at least some measure of comfort. Going outside of your home zone might already be uncomfortable enough. Try to bring some normalcy if you can with their schedules.
Planning for Emergencies With Travel During the Pandemic
OK, now I’m sorry, but I’m going to lay it out here. Since Twiniversity was founded, our goal has been to help you prepare for every scenario, from your twins not sleeping to having marital problems. So we are going to discuss a difficult situation here as well! Let’s talk about emergencies during pandemic travel.
Not sure how to get through this pandemic with your sanity intact? Check this out to remind you that you’re stronger than you realize. Why I Know You’re Gonna Be Ok.
First, do you know if your medical insurance will cover COVID related illnesses outside your coverage area? Is your health insurance up to date? If you are traveling solo with the twins and you get sick, what will you do if you need to go to the ER? What will you do if ONE twin needs to go to the ER for COVID-related (or non-COVID) issues? If you have to leave your kids with family, do they have the proper documentation that will give them permission to care for your children?
What are the specific regulations in your state and the state that you are traveling to when it comes to quarantining upon arrival? Did you know that some states require you to stay put for 14 days upon arrival? Will that put a damper on your plans if your kids wanted to visit a theme park or attraction in that area and you need to have two weeks quarantine?
Do you know the local hospital situation? Is it in an area where ICUs are already filled to the rim? If you are traveling to a hot spot, and need treatment for anything from a 104 fever to an ear infection or UTI, where will you go? Who will be with the twins? Is there a children’s hospital nearby? Is there a chain pharmacy that you like near your destination in case prescriptions are needed?
Logistically you need to plan for everything. Will something happen? I hope not, but being prepared is key in any situation. We have to take calculated risks sometimes, right? Just be calculated and do the best you can to stay safe and keep your twins safe.
Sincerely, I wish you safe travels if you have to take them. If you aren’t sure this is a good time, start making plans for the future. The world will settle down and this will be just a blip for us, I hope. Previous generations have been through MUCH tougher times, and while I know you need a break from the monotony, try to do it safely and thoughtfully. You got this. We all got this.
Natalie Diaz, CLC, CPST is the Pied Piper of twin families around the globe. As founder of Twiniversity — the world’s leading resource and support network for multiple birth families — Nat’s become a global influencer for this small niche community. Natalie is the world’s #1 twin parenting and twin gear expert, serving as a twin consultant for top brands and worldwide recognized foundations. Natalie is a Certified Lactation Counselor and a Child Passenger Safety Technician.