Vacations aren’t canceled but they’ll look very different this summer. A long weekend at the Jersey Shore will require lots of advance planning. Restaurants are open for outdoor dining; there are restrictions on when and how you can shop; local amusement and water parks are open with limited capacity and new safety rules, and so if you want to safely summer vacation this year, you’ll have to pack plenty of hand sanitizer.
BEFORE YOU GO
Mega destinations like Disney and Universal plan to reopen, but the prospect of traveling that far seems frightening to many, especially with COVID-19 cases growing in Florida. If you do opt to hit the road, make sure you check the state’s guidelines first. Florida is among the list of high-risk states that will require a 14-day self-quarantine for you and your whole family when you return to NJ. Additionally, some states, including Maine, Vermont and Florida, have self-quarantine restrictions that may require you to socially distance for two weeks upon entering. So if you’re planning a short stay, you might want to consider other options.
The CDC recommends you don’t travel if you’re sick, have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, or if a member of your party is sick.
New Jersey rest stops are requiring face masks, and while you’ll need to make some pit stops for bathroom breaks, be aware that you may not be able to eat inside. If you’re using public restrooms, make sure everyone washes their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. The CDC also recommends you avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, follow social distancing rules and wear a face mask. If possible, pick up food at drive-throughs or curbside.
WHERE TO STAY
RVs are a popular travel alternative. While you’ll have to interact on a limited-basis with people at RV parks, you’ll also be more in control of your space. RV rental companies are adhering to stringent CDC guidelines for cleaning between rentals.
“The nice thing about RVing is that you can use your RV as your personal base camp for your outdoor adventures,” says Jeff Crider, a campground expert for Go RVing. “Social distancing is easier when you visit some of the lesser known national and state parks or stay in a campground. You choose where you want to go and who travels with you. You can be quite self-contained with your own kitchen filled with your favorite foods and snacks along with your own bed and bath. You’ll bring all your own bedding and towels, and can include your favorite pillow!”
To rent an RV, you’ll need to make sure it fits your family, you have proper insurance and get a lesson on how to use its features. Some rental companies will even deliver the RV directly to a campsite or RV park for you. For more info on renting, visit gorving.com.
HOTELS and RESORTS
Most major resorts in the tri-state area are open. Pocono water park resorts Kalahari, Camelback Mountain Resort and Great Wolf Lodge are open. All are operating under the advice of the CDC that states proper operation, maintenance and disinfection of pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds should inactivate the COVID-19 virus. Spa resorts like Crystal Springs in Hamburg and Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY are also open, but some spa services and steam rooms remain closed. Set on 1,200 acres, Mohonk has 85 miles of hiking trails for all ability levels so it’s easy to be socially distant while enjoying the outdoors. Crystal Springs is one of the state’s premier golf destinations so you can bring your clubs and then hit the pool. Each destination has requirements about wearing masks, temperature checks and social distancing in public areas. Call ahead to check each resort’s policies for common areas, room cleanings and more.
Airbnb, VRBO or local realtors can also hook you up with private rentals so you can stay in a house with your group. You can pick the beach, woods or lake and bring your own food. You’ll also have control over who comes into your space during the duration of your stay. Many of these private rentals have required 24-hour vacancy between clients and have deep cleaning rules in place, and some are only renting for longer stays, like a week or two, to minimize the number of guests in spaces. Others may only be available to local guests, so make sure to check listings before booking.
Whether you’re all about roughing it in tents or prefer more of a glamping cabin experience, the privacy afforded by having your own space surrounded by nature holds a lot of appeal. Many campsites also have spots for RVs, if you’ve chosen to travel that way. “[Families] feel more comfortable staying in cabins and RVs compared to hotels, and campgrounds have plenty of space for social distancing,” says Trent Hershenson, vice president of marketing for Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resorts. “With concerns about flying, road trips will be more popular.”
Parks like Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts (with locations in DE, NY and PA) have amenities like pools and sports and hikes, all revamped to comply with social distancing requirements. You might like Dingmans Campground in Dingmans Ferry, along the Delaware Water Gap, for a quieter experience. Hershenson recommends booking your campsite reservations ASAP, or planning a mid-week stay.
Wherever you travel this summer, expect the unexpected. Rules are changing every day, and every state and town has its own guidelines. You might get there and find that an amusement park or mini-golf course you were planning to visit has reached full capacity and won’t let you in. Manage expectations for yourself and the kids, and be patient with staff who are also adjusting to a steady stream of changes.