10 Coronavirus Vacation Tips For Summer 2020
As we approach the 4th of July weekend, many Michigan residents will soon be hitting the road for vacations they’ve had to wait a bit longer for due to the months of complications from the COVID-19 pandemic. State park campgrounds recently reopened, and many attractions, restaurants, and shops are beginning to adapt to a new normal way of doing business. Our June trip to the Upper Peninsula opened our eyes to many things that look different this year, and we are now taking the opportunity to provide some traveling advice for those headed out to enjoy Michigan this summer. In recent weeks we’ve seen the motto shift from “stay home, stay safe” to “stay safe to stay open” – let’s all do our part to help things get closer to normal! These are our “10 Coronavirus Vacation Tips for Summer 2020:”
Bring your own hand sanitizer – One of the best ways to protect yourself against the spread of the virus is frequent hand washing and/or use of hand sanitizer. Some businesses and attractions will have hand sanitizer stations available, but it’s best to be prepared for those that don’t by bringing your own. Be sure to use sanitizer after contact with frequently touched surfaces like handrails.
Plan ahead and research hours of operation – Many popular attractions are operating on a limited schedule with reduced hours. Do your research ahead of time to avoid surprises. A few examples of businesses and attractions that have seen changes are Shepler’s and Star Line ferries to Mackinac Island, many Traverse City wineries requiring reservations and some imposing time limits, and reduced hours at any Michigan museums that have been able to reopen. Some restaurants and other businesses have been forced to permanently close as a result of the pandemic, so double check that your favorite mom-and-pop place is open before trying to visit. Almost all major festivals have been canceled for the year, be sure to check news outlets and social media for the latest information.
Don’t expect public restrooms to be open – Our trip delivered a mixed bag of options for bathrooms while traveling. Most roadside parks and rest areas are open, you will not have that kind of lucky in many city and county parks. We found the best course of action was to use bathrooms when we did find them (Walmart, Meijer, gas stations) rather than get into a bind later. This situation can get more complicated in the evening once businesses close up for the night. Those of you traveling with children will need to be especially mindful of this.
Don’t complain about wearing a mask when dining out – Michigan restaurants were hit very hard by this pandemic and are happy to be open again even if it means reduced hours, reduced seating capacity, and forcing customers to wear masks. These businesses are complying with local and state guidelines as well as the health department, and having to wear a mask while being seated is a small part we can all play to help ensure that they can stay safe and stay open.
Have a backup plan/adapt – One thing that this pandemic has brought is constant change. Rules and regulations have changed frequently, and to avoid headaches it is best to have a backup plan in case the place you want to visit isn’t open, or you aren’t able to get into a restaurant or on a boat when you want to. Be flexible, be patient, and be grateful for the things you are able to do and the attractions that are open. When we stopped in Sault Ste. Marie we found the Soo Locks visitor center observation deck closed, so we found new vantage points in the park to watch freighters from, then spent part of the day at Rotary Park instead.
Expect shopping experiences to be different – Be prepared to wear a mask when entering stores, and also be prepared for some stores strongly preferring credit/debit cards to cash. There may also be some shops that require waiting outside due to capacity concerns for social distancing. Remember that some of these small town shops have been hurt and could use the support. Much like restaurants, don’t complain about wearing masks or capacity restrictions as these businesses are only following state and local guidelines and mandates in an effort to keep their doors open.
Maintain social distancing at popular areas – If you’re headed to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Mackinac Island, Traverse City, Detroit, or other popular destinations, be sure to avoid crowds and maintain a six foot distance from others whenever possible.
Focus on outdoor experiences – We live in a state full of endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. If you want to maintain proper social distancing, consider checking out a new hiking trail, kayaking the Great Lakes or one of our inland rivers or lakes, or finding a new beach.
Worry about yourself and the circumstances you can control – A good portion of Michigan residents don’t agree with wearing masks or any other kind of restrictions on daily life. If you or a member of your family is at risk for the virus, be aware that other travelers may not be following the recommended guidelines. Protect yourself by wearing a mask, washing and sanitizing hands frequently, and maintaining social distancing.
Keep an eye out for deals and discounts – Businesses that were forced to shut down are aggressively looking to recoup the money they lost in the spring and early summer. Flexible travelers can find discounted room rates at hotels and great deals on museum and zoo admissions, dining specials, and more!
Bonus tip – many gas stations are operating on limited hours compared to previous years. Plan ahead, and fill your tank when you can.
Finally – if you don’t feel well, stay home. You’re far better off being close to home if you do need medical attention, and you’re helping prevent the potential spread of your symptoms to possibly hundreds or thousands of other travelers.