The COVID era has changed many aspects of travel and, after a year of hibernation, your muscle memory of how to travel may have atrophied. So now more than ever, it’s important to prepare yourself for vacation. And note, while some people are ready to travel again, the time may not be right for everyone. These points will also help you determine whether you’re ready to embark on adventures again.
- Get vaccinated. If you’re eligible and can get vaccinated prior to your trip, that will increase your safety and the safety of those around you during your travel.
- Check in with your doctor. Even if you have been vaccinated, there may still be medical factors to consider. Do you need to refill prescriptions? Do you need to order more contact lenses? Touching base with your medical team prior to travel is good practice in general.
- Inform yourself about the health and safety protocols of your airline, car rental service, hotels, or other travel service providers. If it’s been a year since you’ve been to an airport or rented a car, be aware that many procedures have changed. Spend a few minutes on the websites of each of the services you’ll be using to make sure you’re familiar with their current practices.
- Inform yourself about the current health and safety protocols of Walt Disney World. Many procedures at Disney World have changed over the past year. Some hotels, restaurants, and attractions are temporarily (or permanently) shuttered. Ride boarding procedures may have changed. Hours may be different. Check with our blog and the Disney website for relevant information. One critical item not to miss … reservations are now required to enter the theme parks, so be sure to make yours in advance.
- Refresh your memory of Disney’s list of prohibited items. You don’t want to bring something that will get confiscated at the parks.
- Confirm all your travel arrangements. Airlines are notorious for tinkering with flight times and this goes double now as routes are added and subtracted and plane capacity is constantly changing.
- Stock up on masks, sanitizer, disposable wipes, etc. Disney’s rules are a moving target, but several company executives have stated that they expect masks to be required in the parks in some locations through at least 2021. Disney does sell things like masks and hand sanitizer in the parks and resorts, but after a year of practice, you likely now have a preferred fit and style of protective face mask. Be sure to bring extras in case they become soiled or wet during one of the inevitable Florida downpours.
- Work on your physical fitness. Some people have used their time during the pandemic to work out and get in the best shape of their lives. If that’s not you (it’s not me either), you may want to start ramping up your physical activity to prepare for the rigors of travel. Will you have to lift a heavy suitcase into an overhead compartment? Work on your upper body strength. Have your furthest recent walks been from your TV to your refrigerator? Remember that a typical Disney World guest walks at least seven miles each day, often much more. Now could be the time to start taking long evening strolls so that your body isn’t shocked by your vacation movement.
- Evaluate your wardrobe, especially your shoes. Have you gained, or lost, weight during the pandemic? If you haven’t worn shorts or swimsuits in many months, do they still fit? During a mid-COVID closet purge did you throw out your ratty cover-up and flip-flops? Do you need to replace them? As you evaluate your clothing, pay particular attention to making sure you have shoes that you can walk 7+ miles per day in without getting blisters.
- Inform your bank or credit card providers that you’ll be traveling. If it’s been a while since you’ve been out of your home state, you may want to place a call to your credit card company so that they know your cards have not been compromised when they’re used far from your usual locale.
- Shop for travel size toiletries. You can buy things like travel-sized toothpaste at Disney World, but they will certainly be less expensive at your local supermarket or discount store. If you’re making a grocery run anyway, you can save a few bucks by buying what you’ll need in advance.
- Shop for portable snacks. Would having a quick granola bar be a better way to stave off hunger pangs? Do you now feel less comfortable dining at indoor restaurants? Maybe skip having breakfast out and have a packet of oatmeal in your room before heading to the parks.
- Prep for your return home. If you turned down your heat or turned up your a/c prior to your trip, do you want to arrange for a neighbor to set it back to a comfortable temperature before you’re back? Do you need to call your kennel to confirm what time you’ll retrieve your dog? What else about your home needs to be reset or restarted for your return?
- Think about what food you’ll need in your house when your return. This could take several forms:
- Have the number of your favorite takeout place in your phone so that you can pick up an order on the way home from the airport.
- Put an easy-to-prepare meal in your freezer to eat on your first day back. A couple of frozen pizzas might even do the trick.
- Stock up on shelf-stable items you can eat/drink on your first day back.
- Arrange for a supermarket or grocery service to deliver your must-have items or prepared foods soon after your arrival home.
What else do you do to prepare for vacation travel? How has this changed over the past year? Let us know in the comments.
First published March 22, 2021. Updated September 26, 2021.