Invest in You: Ready. Set. Grow.

If you miss travel, road trips could be your key to safer summer getaways

kate_sept2004

Travel is making a comeback, but like most everything else, expect to see some changes.

Maybe you have vacation days to spend. You want to go somewhere — and you also want to stay safe. So you're unlikely to fly and you may want to avoid hotel stays.

That means you could be looking at a day trip, like more than three-quarters of Americans who expect to take one this year, according to a survey from the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Those who said they'd take an overnight trip were more likely to stay with family or friends (43%) than in a hotel (39%).

People are also looking to rent or buy RVs, with a private bathroom one of the top draws. 

Even a short trip can be good for you. Most survey respondents said it's a boon to their mental health, according to the survey, and that it reduces stress.

Here are some tips for safer summer travel.

More from Invest in You:
Not a saver? Learn these skills and end your year with a nice stash
'I wasted so much money...' Millennials want Gen Z to learn from their mistakes
If you need cash, try these less-obvious sources

Pandemic first-aid kit

You need seven things, according to Jeff Weinstein, a paramedic and medical operations supervisor for Global Rescue, which provides medical and crisis response service to travelers. 

It's likely you already have three: masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

Carry isopropyl alcohol wipes and use them to wipe down your phone. Major smartphone manufacturers say they won't harm devices.

Bring some laundry detergent to wash reusable masks on overnight trips.

Fever is one Covid-19 symptom, so bring a travel thermometer to monitor your temperature.

Also consider a digital pulse oximeter, which measures your oxygen levels noninvasively. Any reading below 94% is concerning, says Weinstein. Prices range, and some are less than $30.

Advance planning

Danielle Desir, 29, always packs snacks and disposable wipes, and researches her destination in advance to find out about restrictions.
Source: Danielle Desir

Danielle Desir, 29, who lives in Bridgeport, Connecticut, doesn't go anywhere without masks, hand sanitizer and hand wipes.

"We pack our own water and snacks," said Desir, who has a podcast about affordable travel and personal finance. "We're not always sure what's going to be available at the destination and we don't want to be turned away."

In fact, be prepared for upsets: Desir and her boyfriend went hiking and found that the tower at the mountain peak was closed. "The website didn't mention it," she said.

It's important to stay informed about the reopening stages of the place you're visiting.

"Make sure you go to the area's tourism board for updates and to see what things are going to be open," Desir said. For instance, some restaurants may only offer takeout. Others may require reservations.  

Flight risk

Recent changes in Transportation Security Administration screenings seek to reduce contact between passengers and TSA personnel. Sneeze guards, touchless kiosks and other airline initiatives are an attempt to protect travelers and crew.

VIDEO1:4501:45
Take these 5 steps to protect yourself against identity fraud

According to news reports, though, officials have dropped the ball in tracking potentially infected air passengers. An investigation into a March international flight suggests that in fact one passenger infected as many as 15 other people.

American Airlines said it would resume full-capacity flights, and the CDC has expressed dismay at the decision. 

Clean that car

Perhaps even more dangerous than sitting on a plane, says Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, is sitting in a rental car or taxi.

If you rent, make sure to wipe down and sanitize surfaces. Open the windows and doors, and give the car time to air out — five to 10 minutes should do it, Richards says. Your own vehicle is safe, he adds.

The active life

Match up a destination with your favorite activities, Desir says.

Once you've zeroed in on a winery or brewery, or best places to hike or kayak, check the distance.

"I limit day trips to 2½ hours away so we can spend more time exploring than traveling," she said. 

SIGN UP: Money 101 is an 8-week learning course to financial freedom, delivered weekly to your inbox.

CHECK OUT:  23-year-old CEO: How I made a dorm room side hustle into a business bringing in $1 million via Grow with Acorns+CNBC.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.