Itching to go? Safe travel possible with planning, due diligence

Art Weber

        I’m ready and you probably are, too.
        Winter is loosening its grip, signs of spring are intensifying, we’re learning how to better protect ourselves and others from COVID, and more and more of us are getting vaccinated.
        If you’re like me, you’re itching to hit the road, to travel. But you want to do it as safely as possible – to places that know how to protect their customers from COVID.
        “The intent – the sentiment – to travel is at an all-time high,” says Melinda Huntley, executive director of the Ohio Travel Council.
        “If you’re uncertain about your destination, do some research,” she says. “Every business will tell you what their COVID protocols are. All Ohio businesses have standards to meet, most of them exceed those standards and are actually operating under wider safety protocols.
        “Most Ohio destinations go above and beyond because it’s good business to protect customers,” she said.
        The reality is that many people haven’t stopped traveling but it’s more focused.
        “Demand for outdoor recreation is through the roof,” says Huntley.
        Among the reasons it’s so big is that social distancing is easier outdoors – on trails, walking a beach, fishing a stream, photographing wildlife. That’s why places like Hocking Hills haven’t been hit as hard as others by the COVID quarantines and guidelines.
        “We’ve been busy virtually the entire time,” says Zac Loomis who, with his wife Lauren, owns the Inn at Cedar Falls. The Inn, with its cabins, cottages, and gourmet dining, sets the standard for quality in the Hills. His comment came last August, and they had already responded to COVID guidelines by implementing a comprehensive program to keep their overnight accommodations and restaurant safe.
        While nothing is a guarantee, with due diligence, it is possible to enjoy a vacation with a high degree of certainty that you’ll remain COVID free.
        A lot of it is common sense, even with outdoor recreation. Social distancing is more difficult in some situations than others. The Magee Marsh Bird Trail, for example, features a wonderful boardwalk that is a challenge to social distancing. Check to be sure it’s open before visiting.
        At Hocking Hills, for example, in-and-out trails like the gorge trail at Conkles Hollow SNP and Ash Cave in the state park have been modified by park crews. They’ve added return trails so walkers can complete the trail in a loop, reducing contact with other walkers.
        You may want to start your travel outreach slowly. Start with day trips; there are so many great places to visit within a few hours’ drive.  If you’re reluctant to enter restaurants, arrange for carryout along the way. Call ahead and make sure you understand how your destinations are assuring visitor safety. If you do enter a restaurant that is spacing tables and masking employees, make sure that you don’t have to wait in a crowded area for tables and that condiments and menus are sanitized between diners.
        One of the best precautions of all is to travel during the week when there’s likely to be fewer visitors, making your visit both safer and more rewarding.
        “With attractions operating at reduced capacities your visit will be a more intimate experience than when it’s fully open,” Huntley says.


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association